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National Surfing Championships return to Piha For 60th Celebration

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For immediate release 

6th January 2023

From: Surfing New Zealand 
Sport: Domestic Surfing
Event: 2023 New Zealand Surfing National Champs
Divisions: Open Men’s and Women’s, Juniors, Longboards, SUPS, Kneeboard, Bodyboard, Adaptive
Date: 8th – 14 January 
Location: Piha Beach, Auckland, New Zealand
Websites and Social: Surfing New Zealand #2023Nats 

National Surfing Championships return to Piha For 60th Celebration

The sixtieth edition of the New Zealand National Surfing Championships has attracted a record field of participants that will zone in on Auckland’s Piha Beach starting this weekend.

Over 440 entries have been received for the event which kicks off on Sunday and runs through until Saturday 15th January.  It is the fifteenth time the event has been held on the West Coast of Auckland.

The National Championships brings together the best surfers in New Zealand and will aid several top talents in their preparation for the World Surf League Regional Qualifying Series events kicking off in February.  

The event brings together the surfing community from all over the country to enjoy a fun week of sun and surfing at one of New Zealand’s most well-known surf beaches. Just an hour from Auckland CBD the black sand beach of Piha on the wild West Coast has a thriving surfing community and a talent pool stretching throughout all divisions including Elliot Paerata-Reid, Zen Wallis, Dune Kennings in the Open, and a number of up-and-coming juniors including Leia Millar, Kyra Wallis, Will Hardie and Bill Byers.

Taranaki’s Daniel Farr enters the event as defending champion thanks to his jaw dropping performance at Westport in 2022.

Benefiting from a year on the Qualifying Series and representing New Zealand at the World Surfing Games, Farr will be giving his opponents a run for their money as he hopes to defend his title.

On Farr’s build up to the 2023 Surfing Nationals, “I don’t think my approach to this Nationals will be any different to last. I go to every event with the goal of winning, so that will be my approach to these Nationals,” said Farr

“Obviously there can be some nerves and expectations to defend my first title, but I’ll be doing my normal mental preparation to clear my head and be ready for the event,” he added.

When the event was last held at Piha in 2021, it was won by Raglan’s Billy Stairmand surfing to his eighth National Title alongside Gisborne’s Saffi Vette who won her first title in the Open Women’s Division. Looking to claim his ninth National Title and coming off the back of another year on the WSL Challenger Series, Stairmand will be one to watch during the 2023 National Champs.

“It’s been an amazing time at home over the festive season with wifey and the animals, friends and family. Surfing, golfing and training. I’m actually really looking forward to the week in Piha for the 60th National Surfing Championships. I Haven’t been back there in a while and I always have an epic week there staying at the legend CPLS’s and catching up with friends and fellow competitors from around the country.

“I have a few goals this year and the Nationals is always the first one I want to tick off for the year. I’ve been training a lot and feeling fit and healthy and ready for a big year ahead. Can’t wait to put the rashie on for the first time in 2023”.

The premier women’s division takes on a new look with several top seeds out of action and the average age of the field sitting just below 18 years of age, five years less than the men’s division.

The young field ensures a new national champion will be crowned in the division and selection for the New Zealand Team set to compete at the Olympic qualifying event being held in El Salvador in May.

New Zealand representatives Brie Bennett (Rag) and Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara) will lead the way in the women’s division as will a number of junior representatives.  Local surfers Leia Millar and Gabi Paul will also have high hopes of a big result as they contest the division among others next week.

Taranaki Boardriders will defend the club title which they won for the first time in 2022 down at Westport. This will be hotly contested by several leading clubs from Raglan, Auckland, Mount Maunganui, Christchurch, Dunedin and the hometown heroes Keyhole Boardriders and Lion Rock Boardriders.

Also, up for grabs at the 60th Championships is the Peter Byers Overall Performance of the Event Award. Peter Byers started surfboard building in 1958 after being visited by Bing Copeland and Rick Stoner. The two California lifeguards taught him to shape boards and ride waves. Remembered as one of the pioneering board riders and the founding father of board making in New Zealand Peter passed away in 2012 at the age of 71.  That year and every New Zealand Surfing Nationals since, we have honoured the memory and pioneering work of Pete Byers with a beautiful surfboard shaped trophy shaped out of West Coast Kauri by local craftsman Clive Barron.

The Volkswagen x Skinnies Highest Heat Score awards will be handed out daily across the event.

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.

It is expected that finals of the event will commence from Friday with the main divisions concluding on Saturday 15th January.  Action will take place from 8am – 5pm daily.

The surf is forecast to be in the waist to head-high range for the beginning of the event with light variable winds and stronger westerly winds forecast for later on in the week. Locals at Piha suggest the sand banks have been nicely groomed over the summer so a week of great waves are on the cards.

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.

Daily schedules, live scores and results are available via www.liveheats.com/surfingnz.

Schedule of events (earliest possible day to commence divisions):

Sunday 8th January – Men’s and boys divisions
Monday 9th January – Above divisions plus women’s and girls divisions
Tuesday 10th January – Above divisions plus all male and female divisions
Wednesday 11th January – Above divisions plus longboard and SUP divisions
Thursday 12th January – Above divisions plus bodyboard
Friday 13th January – Above divisions plus kneeboard
Saturday 14th January – All divisions

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

Open Men
2017 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2018 – Ricardo Christie (Gis)
2019 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2020 – Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha)
2021 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2022- Daniel Farr (Tara)

Open Women
2017 – Ella Williams (WGM)
2018 – Raiha Ensor (Mnt)
2019 – Aimee Brown (G Barrier)
2020 – Ava Henderson (Chch)
2021 – Saffi Vette (Gis)
2022 – Paige Hareb (Tara)

Under 18 Boys Division
2017 – Jonas Tawharu (Mnt)
2018 – Conor McLennan (Chch)
2019 – Caleb Cutmore (Rag)
2020 – Jack Lee (Whakatane)
2021 – Finn Vette (Gis)
2022 – Rakiatea Tau (Chch)

Under 18 Girls Division
2017 – Saffi Vette (Gis)
2018 – Elin Tawharu (Mnt)
2019 – Saffi Vette (Gis)
2020 – Ava Henderson (Chch)
2021 – Ava Henderson (Chch)
2022 – Ava Henderson (Chch)

2017 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
2018 – Zen Wallis (Piha)
2019 – Jamie Andrews (Tara)
2020 – Ambrose McNeill (Chch)
2021 – Daniel Procter (Gis)
2022 – Jack Tyro (Chch)

The 2023 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 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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