It was lucky number forty for John Gisby (Gis) who claimed the Over 70 Men’s Division over his counterparts at the 2024 National Surfing Championships today (Monday 8th January).
It is the first time the division has been contested at the National Championships, added after demand from the older generation of New Zealand surfers. Upon hearing of the addition, Gisby was one of the first to enter the event early in December.
Today’s action was played out in good 1.0m waves at St Clair Beach, Dunedin with clean conditions prevailing in the morning and light onshore winds in the afternoon. The Over 70s Division was one of seven senior divisions that were completed today.
Gisby made a slow start to the final with fellow Gisborne surfer Ben Hutchings at the age of 78, racing away with a 6.7 point ride to take an early lead. However, Gisby came back to end the final on 13.5 points to secure the title. Gisby’s good friend and travelling companion, Ross Moodie placed second in the final after a late 5.15 point ride that edged him past Hutchings who finished in third and Piha’s Clive Barron in fourth.
The performance of the four surfers in the final had spectators cheering from the esplanade at St Clair Beach, encouraging the guys to charge every set wave that came in. After the final, all four exited the water to a stand ovation from those that were present, a show of respect for their efforts.
Heading back into the remainder of the ‘senior’ divisions, Jai Wybrow was a standout for the second day in a row surfing through to the final of the Over 30 Men’s Division and going on to post an emphatic victory with a 15.85 point heat total. His finals performance was capped off with an 8.85 point ride for a series of critical forehand turns toward the end of the heat. Dunedin surfer Dane Robertson made a late charge of his own with an 8.25 point ride but was left in second place. Reuben Woods (Mnt) couldn’t back up his title in the Over 40 Men’s Division and had to settle for third ahead of double-finalist Matt Groube (Pau) in fourth.
Woods earlier won a hotly contested Over 40 Men’s Division edging out Taranaki’s Jarred Hancox in the final exchange of the heat. With the last two waves being ridden and the hooter sounded, it was Hancox that leap frogged into the lead with a 7.15 point ride. However, Woods final score came in at 6.8 points to go back into the lead and add a second national title to his name – 13.95 v 13.70. The two local surfers Craig Higgins and Luke Murphy finished in third and fourth place respectively.
Dunedin claimed a second title of the day with Lyndon Fairbairn winning the Over 50 Men’s Division. Fairbairn was joined in the final by two fellow South Coast Boardriders Club members in Lee Morris and Richard Ayson along with Matt Groube (Pau). He posted a 10.60 point total to win the final after Groube incurred an interference midway through the heat to drop from first to third. Ayson jumped to second while Morris finished in fourth place.
Raglan’s Geoff Hutchison won his fifth national title in the Over 60 Men’s Division. The final was another nailbiter with Hutchison getting a last minute six-point ride to jump from third to first and drop Barry McCullouch (Tai) back to second after leading for almost 25 minutes in search of his first national title. Jack Griffiths (Auck) finished in third place ahead of Neill Robb (Chch) in fourth.
Dunedin surfer Ang Reardon claimed the Over 40 Women’s Division with a 8.25 point heat total in the final. The final included three senior women. Raglan’s Kiri Binnersley won the Over 30 Women’s Division with Lucy Te Moananui (Kaik) finishing runner up.
The Volkswagen Highest Single Wave Score of the Day went to Jai Wybrow for the second day running after his 8.85 point ride in the final of the Over 30 Men’s Division.
The surf is forecast to decrease slightly for Tuesday with light winds and the event will be held at St Clair Beach on Day 3. The longboard, bodyboard and SUP will be completed on day 3 along with the start of the junior divisions.
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 email@example.com.
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