61st National Championship Kicks Off at St Clair Beach with Action From Senior Legends

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No less than eight ex-national champions were in action on the opening day of the 2024 National Surfing Championships today (Sunday 7th January) as the senior divisions took center stage to open the event.

St Clair Beach, Dunedin laid on a nice day to kick the event off with small 1.0m waves that were bathed in afternoon sunshine and light onshore winds.

In a shift from normal proceedings, this year’s edition of the event has been split into blocks of divisions starting with today’s action and the elder statesman of the New Zealand surfing community.  The longboard, bodyboard, SUP and junior surfers will start on Tuesday and the event finishes with three days of action from the premier Open Men and Women who will take center stage to round out seven days of action.  National champions will be crowned daily across the event this week.

Today lined up several semifinal match ups including the Over 30 Men’s Division where Westport surfer Jai Wybrow dominated proceedings with a 16.5 point heat total in his opening round.  Wybrow is an ex national champion in the junior divisions and long regarded as one of the most naturally talented Kiwi surfers.  He will be joined by two local standouts in JC Susan and Dane Robertson in the semifinal plus Raglan’s Mike Banks.  Mount Maunganui surfers make up half of the second semifinal with the smooth Mike Kiwi joined by Reuben Woods and Pauanui surfer Matt Groube.

Groube contested three heats during the day including his Over 50 Men’s Division heat where he impressed with an 11.40 point heat total to advance to the semifinals alongside Richard Ayson (Dun).  Ayson was joined by fellow locals Lyndon Fairbairn and Lee Morriss advancing to the semifinals.

In the Over 40 Men’s Division, Taranaki surfer Jarred Hancox and Reuben Woods looked strong pushing through to the quarterfinals which will be contested early on Monday morning before.

The Kneeboard Division was the first to have their final contested today with 29-year-old Taranaki surfer Makino Skelton claiming the title, his first ever at the Nationals. Skelton posted a 9.40 point total in the final to best 2022 champion Sam Coyne who finished runner up alongside local Malcolm Diack, Regan Story and Jason Story.

The Volkswagen Highest Single Wave Score of the Day went to Jai Wybrow (Westport) for his 9.25 point ride in the Over 30 Men’s Division for a near perfect series of forehand turns on the way to a semifinal berth.

Seven titles will be determined on day two of the event across the senior divisions for males and females.

The surf is forecast to remain steady for the first half of the week before a reduction in size with winds increasing.  The primary event venue is St Clair Beach with the option of heading north or south depending on conditions.

Action takes place from 8am – 5pm daily with the venue confirmed at 7am each morning.  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

Set out below are previous champions of the major divisions contested for the past five years.

Open Men
2019 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2020 – Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha)
2021 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2022 – Daniel Farr (Tara)
2023 – Dune Kennings (Piha)

Open Women
2019 – Aimee Brown (G Barrier)
2020 – Ava Henderson (Chch)
2021 – Saffi Vette (Gis)
2022 – Paige Hareb (Tara)
2024 – Pia Rogers (WGM)

Under 18 Boys Division
2019 – Caleb Cutmore (Rag)
2020 – Jack Lee (Whakatane)
2021 – Finn Vette (Gis)
2022 – Rakiatea Tau (Chch)
2024 – Craig Macdonald (Auck)

Under 18 Girls Division
2019 – Saffi Vette (Gis)
2020 – Ava Henderson (Chch)
2021 – Ava Henderson (Chch)
2022 – Ava Henderson (Chch)
2023 – Tayla Green (Aus)

Longboard
2019 – Jamie Andrews (Tara)
2020 – Ambrose McNeill (Chch)
2021 – Daniel Procter (Gis)
2022 – Jack Tyro (Chch)
2024 – Oliver Janes (Auck)

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.

Imagery
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
Volkswagen
Sun Bum

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