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Kennings and Rogers Claim Maiden Titles at Perfect Piha

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Piha’s Dune Kennings and Whangamata’s Pia Rogers have claimed their maiden titles at the f2023 National Surfing Championships completed at Piha Beach, Auckland today (Saturday 14th January).

In a spectacular display of surfing in perfect 1.5m waves, Kennings rode to a near perfect 19.25 point heat total to win the final.

16-year-old Rogers also put on a dominant display of surfing riding to a 15.65 point heat total to win her final.

Kennings becomes the first son of a previous title winner to join the illustrious list of New Zealand champions behind his father Lynden who won back-to-back titles in 1990 and 1991.  It was a feat that was not lost on him.

“It is a unique feeling in itself to follow my Dad.  He has been telling me all week to bring it home for everyone that supports me.  The emotions of this win are incredible,” said Kennings.

The Men’s final is believed to be the highest scoring in the 60 year history of the event with six excellent scoring rides, four of those above 9/10 points.

When Kennings returned to the beach, he had a swarm of supporters from his Keyhole Boardriders club waiting at the water’s edge.

“The whole time out in that heat I was looking back into a packed beach and I knew half of that crowd were supporting me and Elliot and to bring it home means so much to me.  I have been working so hard for a long time and I have finally done it,” he added.

“Stoked to put on a performance that I knew I was capable of, especially in the final.  I had to bring my best to this final against the best guys in New Zealand.  I knew I couldn’t hold back one bit”.

Kennings’ good mate and 2020 National Champion Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha) finished runner up in the final with a 18.20 point heat total vs Kennings 19.25.  Paerata – Reid started strongly with an 8.90 point ride and followed that up with a 9.30 to amass his heat total.

Eight time national champion Billy Stairmand (Rag) held the lead for part of the final with a 17.85 heat total until the patient Kennings found a late ride and completed three big turns to score a near-perfect 9.90.

17-year-old Kalani Louis (Tara) finished fourth in the final after a stellar run of performances over the seven days.

The Open Women’s Division was filled with New Zealand’s future of surfing and it was Rogers who took full advantage of gunning for a maiden title.  She went for broke on every wave, a strategy that looked like it could cost her the title when she fell at the end of several waves.

“I fell three times in the final on my end turns and wasn’t finishing my waves, but I was going for broke to get the big scores because I knew that is what you have to do to win a title,” said Rogers who is renowned for her love of surfing big waves.  Her commitment paid off with her last waves scoring 8.25 out of a possible 10 points to seal the victory.

“This is so cool, I am so stoked” added Rogers who felt a bit surprised despite placing fourth in the event in 2022.

“For me, there was no pressure in the Open Division so I was trying to surf my best and get on the best waves and yeah, the performance just came.”

Rogers acknowledged her opponents, many of whom are friends and teammates.  “We have been pushing each other all week in our performances and all the heats were back and forth in terms of results but it is good to take out the one that counted today.”

Rogers overcame Australian based Tayla Green who finished runner up in the final on 13.20 points after previously winning the Under 18 Girls Division.

Taranaki surfer Natasha Gouldsbury finished the final in third place ahead of 11-year-old Lola Groube (Pau) in fourth.

Green turned the tables on Rogers in the Under 18 Girls Division final finishing first ahead of Leia Millar (Piha) in second, Rogers coming in at third and Chloe Groube (Pau) finishing in fourth.

In the Under 18 Boys Division, a perfect 10-point ride sealed the title for Navryn Malone (Rag).  The final was another close one with Malone’s 17.70 besting Kalani Louis on 17.15.  Whakatane surfer Tai Murphy finished third on 15.10 and Tao Mouldey (Mnt) finished fourth on 13.35.

Dunedin’s Alexis Owen claimed the title in the Under 16 Boys Division with Alani Morse (Rag) claiming the girls division courtesy of an amazing 9.0 point ride to open her heat.

Piha youngster Kyra Wallis claimed the Under 14 Girls Division with Vitor Kokemper (Mnt) winning the boys division.

Senior titles went to Taranaki’s Jarred Hancox (Over 30s), Mount Maunganui’s Matt Scorringe (Over 35s), Taranaki’s Kane Rowson (40s), Auckland’s Andrew Robinson (Over 45s), Mount Maunganui’s Darren Kiwi (Over 50s) and Raglan’s Rick Lasch (Over 55s).

Oliver Janes (Auck) and Estella Hungerford (Chch) claimed the premier longboard divisions with Jack Tyro (Chch) defending his title in the Under 18 Boys Longboard Division alongside Amelie Wink (Chch) in the girls.

The 2023 National Surfing Championships commences the domestic NZ Surf Series, NZ Grom Series and NZ Longboard Series with fifteen events scheduled around the country this summer.

Over 440 entries have been received for the event.  It is the fifteenth time the event has been held on the West Coast of Auckland.  A total of 29 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 60s 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, Skinnies, Better Beer and Arepa.  The 2023 National Surfing Championships is proudly hosted by Keyhole Boardriders.

All results are available via www.liveheats.com/surfingnz.

Further Information
For further information on the 2023 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 #Nats2023 to follow the story.

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