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Girls Take Control of Scholastic Champs at Gisborne

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New Zealand’s next generation of female surfers took control of the Gisborne waves on day two of the National Scholastic Surfing Championships today (Tuesday 26th September), some already at the top of the pack.

The field included two Open Women National Champions in Pia Rogers (Coro) and Ava Henderson (Cant) as well as two national representatives at a junior level.  It was our two national champions that shone in the Under 18 Girls Division contested in 1.0m waves and offshore winds at Makorori Beach.

Rogers opened the round with an 11.20 point heat total for her usual aggressive approach to her heats.  She leads a solid Coromandel team this week that she suggests will challenge for a podium finish.

“Our team is going well.  Most of us are still in the event and we are aiming to do better than our fourth place finish last year” said Rogers.

“It was much cleaner this morning and it was good to have the girls heats early and get my first heat out of the way” she added.  “I kept it simple, got a quick start and built on that, so yeah, looking forward to the semifinals.”

Rogers is having a stellar year after winning the 2023 National Championships and going on to represent New Zealand at the ISA World Surfing Games held in El Salvador in May.  Today she advanced alongside Otago surfer Sari Ayson.

Canterbury surfer Ava Henderson followed Rogers with a strong performance posting a 10.90 point heat total.  Henderson, the 2020 National Champion, has competed off-and-on through 2023 but joined the Canterbury Team for this week taking on an athlete-coach role mentoring the younger surfers in the team.

“My heat was good, I didn’t feel like I showcased my best surfing but it is still early rounds.  Hopefully I will find my rhythm over the next few days,” said Henderson.

“Coaching is definitely challenging, I have never done it before.  It is very rewarding seeing my peers do well and making heats, super proud of everyone in our team.  I feel like we have all stepped up to work together as a team this week and can’t wait for the rest of the event” she added.

Henderson advanced alongside Skylar McFetridge (Tara) with the two surfers set to contest the semifinals on Thursday.

Auckland’s title defence continued with Leia Millar advancing in the Under 16 Girls Division and Poppy Arkle surfing to the highest heat score of the day – 14.0 out of 20 in the Under 14 Girls Division.  Late in the day they were also spurred on by Ruby Milne advancing out of the repechage rounds to keep their full team of surfers alive in the event, one of only two teams alongside the mighty Bay of Plenty.

The majority of teams had surfers contesting the repechage rounds today.  Hawkes Bay surfer Dale Cromhout stood out in the Under 16 Boys Division with a 12.25 point heat total to move through to the third round as did Wellington’s lone survivor – Sam Jones, Patrick Burbury (Hawkes Bay), Austin Fergus (Gis) and Tommy Lodge (Northland).

With the first participants being eliminated from the event, the team rankings started to take shape for the first time.  Bay of Plenty holds the number one ranking ahead of defending champions Auckland with Canterbury rounding out the top three.

We expect an increase in swell for day three with strong offshore winds.  The day will be filled with action from the Under 18 Boys and Girls and Under 16 Boys Divisions as we get down toward the quarterfinals.  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, 12000
2, Auckland, 11440
3, Canterbury, 10865
4, Coromandel, 10780
5, Northland, 10350
6, Otago, 10048
7, Gisborne, 10040
8, Waikato, 9990
9, Hawkes Bay, 9090
10, Taranaki, 8860
11, Wellington, 4765

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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