Olympic standard at Queenstown’s day on bay

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Olympic swimmer Moss Burmester surprised a crowd of thousands by turning out for Queenstown’s Splash ‘n’ Dash.

The 200m butterfly Commonwealth gold medallist destroyed the large field at the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival event.

“It was fun but cold – I can’t feel anything,” Burmester says.

“I entered this one because it had a swimming part, so that gives me an advantage. It was great.”

The race along Queenstown beach and through chilly waters to a buoy and back was one of the highlights of the More FM Day on the Bay.

The afternoon began with the hugely-popular Birdman contest, which saw eight teams of competitors dressed in wacky costumes plummet from a platform into the nine-degree waters of Lake Wakatipu.

Coast to Coast star Steve Gurney and teammate Jackie Clarke won the non-business team section, dressed as chickens. Gurney and Clarke ‘tarred’ and feathered each other, before Gurney climbed into a large egg model and being pushed off the platform by Clarke, who followed him in.

“I didn’t sleep last night because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get out of the egg when I hit the water,” Gurney says.

“So I took the hinge off this morning. It was amazing, huge fun, but colder than even I thought it would be.”

The Quiksilver team, which hit the water in an impressive helicopter model, were the overall winners.

Skippers Canyon Jet driver Kevin Malloy took the coveted jet boat driver race title, with a time of 59 seconds in his first year in the event.

Smooth Riders Mike Stewart, Mark Hill and Bas Smith were next on the water – winning the paddleboard race for the third year running.

“It was great” says Smith. “We had some stiff competition this year though from the girls’ team [Starboard Tiki Hine] who had Jeremy Stephenson racing for them – he’s one of the best paddle boarders in New Zealand.”

UK-born Josh Connell won the popular Undy 500 race, which saw about two dozen men strip down to their smalls for and take on an obstacle course.

Queenstown’s Zelia Horrell won the women’s Undy 500 while Dunedin’s Amber Chambers won the women’s Splash ‘n’ Dash.