Junior Surfers Take Centre Stage with Location Switch at National Champs

It was a full day of action for Aotearoa’s top young talent yesterday (Wednesday 10th January) as they ushered in a new event season at the 2024 National Surfing Championships being held at Dunedin this week.

With surfers moving up age groups and a break in events over the past few months, there were some intriguing match ups and big performances as they the next generation surfed their way into the quarter and semi-final rounds.

A howling northeast wind forced a venue change for day four of the event with a move south to Blackhead Beach.  A punchy 1.0m – 1.5m swell and offshore winds made for a challenging playground where committed surfing was rewarded with results.

Dunedin surfer Alexis Owen was a standout performer in the Under 18 Boys Division posting a 15.50 point heat total to advance to the quarterfinals.  Owen is recently back from the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships held in Brazil last month and has continued his good form on to this weeks’ event.  The young 15-year-old surfer is surfing in two divisions at the event and aiming for his fourth title.  On top of his performance in the Under 18 Boys Division, Owen was also one of the top scoring surfers for the Under 16 Boys Division.

Piha surfer Christian Fougere was another surfer to impress for the second day running when he won through to the quarterfinals alongside Joe Goodjohn (Mnt).  Others to win through included Jack Tyro (Chch) coming off the back of his Men’s Longboard Title on Tuesday, Tai Murphy (Ohope) and first-time competitor Taimana Marupo (Arataki) who impressively advanced through to the quarterfinals of both his junior divisions.

In the Under 16 Boys Division, 13-year-old Vitor Bauermann (Mnt) was the top scoring surfer with a 14.15 point heat total.  Bauermann was surfing up a division today and will contest the Under 14 Boys Division later in the week.

Jay Tingle (Pau) found the right waves blowing up on one lefthander on his forehand to post an 8.5 point ride and a 13.50 point heat total.  Luca Thompson was strong on his backhand in advancing through to the quarterfinals as were Zen Mouldey (Mnt) and Benji Lowen (Chch).

The girls rounded out the day of action across the full tide and it was Alani Morse that took on the random peaks with a calculated but punishing approach.

“It was about finding the right peaks and making sure you performed on them,” said Morse.  “I was trying to go for the international standard out there which is a minimum of two big turns and on my 9.5 point ride, I got the right wave and went for it,” added Morse, another rising young surfer recently back from representing New Zealand.

Morse finished with a 16.10 point heat total in her heat, one of the top scores of the day alongside Maya Mateja (Rag) who posted a 14.0 to win her match up.  The Groube sisters Chloe and Lola of Pauanui were the other two heat winners moving through to the semifinals.

Indi-Lee Ruddell was a standout across both girls’ divisions and in the Under 18 Girls she took her first win of the day.  The 14-year-old Whangarei surfer is fresh into the Under 16 Girls Division this year but holding her own in a division up with girls four years her senior.  A 10.80 point heat total saw her advance to the semifinals.

Sophia Brock (Mnt) surfed with some urgency to advance out of her quarterfinal match up as did Pia Rogers (WGM) and Chloe Groube (Pau), all three surfers winning their heats.

The Volkswagen Highest Single Wave Score of the Day went to Raglan’s Alani Morse with a 9.5 point ride for two big backhand turns in the Under 16 Girls Division.

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.

Further Information
For further information on the 2024 National Surfing Championships please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz.

High resolution action images of the surfing will be available to media free of charge upon request.

Social Media
Keep up with all the action by following @surfingnz on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Use the hashtag #2024Nats to follow the story.

Surfing New Zealand is proudly partnered by:
Sport NZ
Sun Bum


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Author: Ben Kennings