National titles are usually reserved for the hardened competitor that has participated in numerous events and honed their competitive skills, yet today it was a first time participant that won the Under 18 Boys Division of the 2024 National Surfing Championship being held in Dunedin.
Widely regarded as a stylish free surfers, Arataki’s surfer Taimana Marupo entered this weeks event as his first ever, no club events, regional events or event experience ever. And he came away with the title.
Marupo was joined by Leia Millar who claimed the Under 18 Girls Division at the end of the penultimate day of the event.
Today’s action was played out at St Clair Beach with small waves of up to 1.0m with light winds yet again giving way to a late afternoon southerly.
Taimana Marupo finished with a 12.95 point heat total for todays win.
“I’m super stoked, it’s crazy, it doesn’t feel real,” exclaimed Marupo.
“I got that last wave and heard I got the lead and I was just waiting for those last minutes to go by and I was like, man, just hurry up” he added.
“Yeah of course I was thinking about winning when I was coming down here. My first heat I was real nervous but after that I felt more calm” said Marupo of his intentions and competitive inexperience.
Ohope surfer Tai Murphy finished second in the final with double finalist Alexis Owen in third place and Spencer Rowson (Tara) finishing in third place after incurring an interference.
Leia Millar (Piha) claimed the Under 18 Girls Division title eventually running away with the win on a 14.0 point heat total. Two excellently executed backhand waves in the second half of the final were enough to put a considerable gap between her and her opponents.
“At the start we were all kinda getting four point rides then I managed to get that one with a good section and I was really happy about that,” said Millar of her first 7.0 point ride which she backed up with a 7.1 point ride.
“Overall I am really happy to get the title this year and super stoked for it to be in the Under 18 Girls,” said Millar.
Millar’s good friend Pia Rogers (WGM) finished in second place in the final after leading the early stages while Sophia Brock (Mnt) finished in third ahead of Poppy Arkle (Piha) in fourth.
Australian based Benji Lowen clinched the Under 16 Boys Division title after tying with defending champion Alexis Owen (Dun). It was Lowen’s 7.70 point ride as the highest of the final that gave him the nod. His highest score came via a critical two turn combo tight in the pocket on his forehand that wowed the judges and ultimately edged him past Owen.
Owen had to settle for second place with Under 14 Boys Champion Sol Fritchley (Mnt) just behind him in third and Remy Sale (Mnt) in fourth.
Alani Morse defended her title in the Under 16 Girls Division. After a slow start to the final, Morse found her rhythm late with a 7.0 and 6.60 point rides.
Morse’s backhand came to the fore again with strong powerful turns as she pushed the boundaries for the girls.
Pauanui surfer Lola Groube finished in second place in the final with Maya Mateja (Rag) in third and the oldest of the Groube sisters Chloe, finishing in fourth place.
Sol Fritchley (Mnt) claimed the Under 14 Boys title in a battle of epic proportions with defending champion Vitor Bauermann (Mnt), Fritchley getting the nod 16.15 points to 15.90 points. Kentaro Mitchell (Ahipara) finished in third ahead of Zac Becroft (Piha) in fourth.
Dunedin surfer Zara Owen won the Under 14 Girls Division with a 17.5 point heat total. Pipiata Ritchie (Dun) finished in second place with Jade Phillips in third, Nami Marsden (Mnt) in fourth and Mikayla Secord (Dun) in fifth.
The Volkswagen Highest Single Wave Score of the Day went to Sol Fritchley for the second day in a row after posting not one, but two 9.75 point rides in his semifinal heats.
The penultimate day of the event saw the completion of all junior divisions – Under 14, 16 and 18s before the Open Men and Women take center stage on the final day of the event.
Action takes place from 8am – 5pm daily. Schedules, live scores and results are available via www.liveheats.com/surfingnz.
Over 350 entries have been received for the event which takes place from today (Sunday 7th January) and runs through until Saturday 13th January. It is the ninth time the event has been staged at Dunedin, dating back to 1978.
Raglan’s Point Boardriders are the defending club champions from the 2023 event. With the event being held in the South Island this year, the likes of hosts South Coast Boardriders will be eager to take the title and challenge perennial front runners including the defending champions, Bay Boardriders and New Plymouth Surfriders.
Also, up for grabs at the 61st Championships is the Peter Byers Overall Performance of the Event Award which was won by Taranaki surfer.
A total of 26 divisions are contested at the event including the premier Open Men and Women plus additional divisions comprising of age groups from Under 14 boys and girls through to Over 70s for males and females and Longboard, Stand Up Paddleboard, Bodyboard, Kneeboard and adaptive disciplines.
The event would not be possible without the support of the following partners: Sport NZ, Volkswagen and Sun Bum. The 2024 National Surfing Championships is proudly hosted by South Coast Boardriders and South Island Surfing Association.
Schedule of events:
Sunday 7th January – Senior Men and Women, Kneeboard
Monday 8th January – Senior Men and Women
Tuesday 9th January – Longboard, Bodyboard, SUP and Junior Boys and Girls
Wednesday 10th January – Junior Boys and Girls
Thursday 11th January – Open Men and Women, Junior Boys and Girls
Friday 12th January – Open Men and Women
Saturday 13th January – Open Men and Women
The 2024 National Surfing Championships commences both the domestic NZ Surf Series, NZ Grom Series and NZ Longboard Series with fifteen events scheduled around the country this summer.
For further information on the 2024 National Surfing Championships please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
High resolution action images of the surfing will be available to media free of charge upon request.
Keep up with all the action by following @surfingnz on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Use the hashtag #2024Nats to follow the story.
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Author: Ben Kennings