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Bay of Plenty Takes Commanding Lead as Boys Enjoy Peak of the Swell

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The Bay of Plenty has taken a commanding lead at the National Scholastic Surfing Championships being held at Gisborne as they put some distance between themselves and defending champions Auckland.

Day three of the event was held at Makorori Beach today (Wednesday 27th September) in solid 1.5m plus waves and light onshore winds.

It was the Under 18 and 16 Boys that were contested all day with the final six surfers confirmed for the Under 18s and the final ten surfers in the Under 16 Boys Division.

Bay of Plenty’s Tai Murphy has been a standout all event and today he amassed a 15.70 point heat total in a fiercely contested match up against New Zealand representative Spencer Rowson (Tara), Zeke Wyper (Coro) and Cooper Ashill (North).

Commenting on his brilliant performance today, “I don’t know, getting the right waves was the key really.  It feels familiar out there for some reason, I was loving it, it was fun, real fun” said a reserved Murphy.  “Hopefully I can keep the momentum going and make the final,” he added.

Murphy and ten of his team mates remain in the event, the most of any team.  Murphy puts that down to the support of everyone in his team and the ability for them all to work together.

Otago has remained within striking distance of the top teams, sitting in a comfortable fourth place position going into the final two days of the event.  Today they were led by a strong showing from the Owen brothers Alexis and Jake.  Jake, the older of the two was full of praise for his team and the performance of his younger brother, optimizing the team spirit of the event and family nature of surfing.

“I love surfing events with my brother. I love surfing with all my siblings, we are always surfing as a family and it is so cool.  It was awesome to see my younger brother and sister exceed expectations on the weekend at the Primary School Champs and Alexis is doing so well here, I am proud of him and the way he surfs and supports our Otago team,” said Jake who himself had a fine performance advancing to the semifinals of the Under 18 Boys Division.

“All the surfers left in the division are so good, it is going to be fun,” he said after posting an 11.0 point heat total including a 7.5 point ride for one wave.  “It was hilarious, I wasn’t looking at the wave but then I saw Tyler [Perry] going and thought I better take it, it was a good double up, I didn’t even know that I got a 7.5 because I got flogged paddling back out the back, but yeah, I am happy with that.”

Despite their current position of seventh on the team standings, Taranaki are set to pounce with seven of their twelve surfers remaining in the event.  Nate Florence led the boys out in the Under 18 Boys Division notching up a hard fought win to advance alongside Will Hardie (Auck) in their heat – 10.95 v 10.65 points.

“I have been finding the right waves and getting good scores which I am stoked about” said Florence.  “The bigger waves like today suit me much better than the shoulder to head high waves, so I am happy with today’s conditions.”

As the Taranaki Team head into the final two days, Florence believes they have the team and support to make things happen.  “We have a great team here this week, everyone is super supportive, all the parents are helping out and our team heads down onto the beach to support each over after every heat which pumps us all up.”

Late in the day the Under 16 Boys were contested through to the final ten surfers.  In a quirk of the event, the Waikato Team found themselves filling all three positions in one heat.  It was first time Scholastic Champs participant Jacob Haines that won out over Theo Morse, the two eliminating their team mate Ethan Kirk-Orman.

“Our last heat was intense with all Waikato surfers – me, Theo and Ethan.  It was a gnarly heat, I was stoked to come away with the win in that one,” commented Haines.

“This is my first time at this event, the event is amazing, so many people to talk to and meet plus we get to surf with a coach as well and Daniel Kereopa is our coach and he is so good for our team” added Haines.

Other surfers to impress in the Under 16 Boys Division included Bay of Plenty teammates Joe Goodjohn and Tava Santorik plus Otago’s Lewis Murphy.

We expect a decreasing swell for day four with offshore winds forecasted.  The day will be filled with action from all divisions apart from the Under 18 Boys and Girls.  The event will be held at Makorori Beach from 8am – 4pm.

Live scoring and full results can be seen on www.liveheats.com/surfingnz.  The final day of the event will be streamed live on the Whakaata Maori YouTube channel.

Team points
1, Bay of Plenty (Tauranga Moana), 11005

2, Auckland (Tamaki Makaurau), 10683

3, Otago (Otepoti), 9433

4, Coromandel (Te Tara o te Ika a Maui), 9480

5, Canterbury (Otautahi), 8963

6, Gisborne (Te Tairawhiti), 8361

7, Taranaki, 8315

8, Waikato, 7820

9, Northland (Te Tai Tokerau), 7521

10, Hawkes Bay (Ahuriri), 5852

11, Wellington (Te Upoko o te Ika), 2908

12, West Coast, 0

The National Scholastic Surfing Championships has been held since 1989.  The event, which has unearthed two generations of top Kiwi talent, takes place along the Gisborne coastline from 25-29 September.

The event comprises eight age group divisions for males and females across both shortboard and longboard disciplines.  Twelve regional teams from throughout the country contest the event with eleven teams in attendance in 2023 vying for both individual titles as well as the overall team title. Auckland is the defending champion at the event having won in Taranaki in 2022.

128 surfers are participating at the event in 2023 after having qualified to represent their 12-person teams via a series of regional events held during winter months.

The 2023 National Scholastic Surfing Championships is sanctioned by Surfing New Zealand, Secondary School Sport NZ.  The event is made possible with the support of Pub Charity.  The event is supported by the New Zealand Sports Collective, Whakaata Maori, Caltex, Bayleys, Apollo Projects, Pure Athletic and NZ Carbon Farming.

For more information on the National Scholastic Surfing Championships, please contact Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz. Follow @surfingnz across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for all the action from the event.


High resolution images from the event will be available to media upon request.

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