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Sixtieth Edition of National Champs Opens with a Bang

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Auckland’s Piha Beach turned on clean conditions for the preliminary rounds of the National Championships on day one, held today, Sunday 8th January.  The event’s top seeds proceeded to take apart the line-up locking in big heat totals in the process.

The surf conditions remained 1.5m all day with variable morning winds turning sea breeze in the afternoon.

Top seed Caleb Cutmore opened proceedings for the day and his opponents never superseded his spectacular 15.70 point heat total.  The Raglan surfer dominated the low tide conditions on Piha Bar completing big forehand turns and aerial manoeuvres, his highest single wave being an 8.10 point ride.

Cutmore’s road to the second round was a lot smoother than second seed Daniel Farr (Tara) who won his heat despite a small heat total of 11.40 to kick off his title defence.  Farr did surf to a 7.40 point ride early in the heat but couldn’t find a strong second wave.

“I got underway today but yeah, sometimes the first round is nerve wracking, you just want to get it out of the way,” an almost relieved Farr said.

“It was good to rock up this morning and see such clean 2-3ft waves and no wind, it got the stoke going and I am happy to start rolling,” he added.

Farr was also impressed with the large field of surfers attracted to the event and the pending road ahead.  “There’s a bunch of good surfers that don’t always compete as well as the usuals in the draw.  You know the Nationals will always be hotly contested so you just have to focus on your own performance, day by day, heat by heat, wave by wave, simply break it down like that.”

Eight-time National Champion Billy Stairmand was another surfer to take a convincing win in his heat with a 14.50-point heat total.  In search of his ninth title, Stairmand will need to surf through a further three rounds to make the final.

Local surfers Zen Wallis, Dune Kennings, Elliot Paerata – Reid and Will Hardie all won their heats showing superior local knowledge as they made their way through the early round and visiting participants.

Others to show signs of form included Tom Butland (Tara) with a late heat progression, returning surfers Tim O’Conner (Mnt) and Sean Kettle (Tara) and Raglan’s Taylor Hutchison.

Late in the day the Under 18 Boys Division rounded out proceedings surfing through to the quarterfinals.

Navryn Malone (Rag) top scored to advance through to the final twelve surfers after posting the day-high 16.35 points out of a possible 20.  Bill Byers (Piha) also surfed to an impressive13.55 points in his heat.  Taranaki groms Kalani Louis and Spencer Rowson won both of their match ups today with Rowson looking sharp on his backhand with a 7.0 point ride in his first heat and an 11.0 point heat total in his second heat.

Will Hardie (Piha), Taj Millar Dal Bosco (WGM) and Tao Mouldey (Mnt) all won their respective heats.

The Volkswagen x Skinnies Highest Heat Score Award went to Navryn Malone in the Under 18 Boys Division.

Day two will see the addition of the country’s top Kiwi females as well as another round of the Open Men’s Division and several rounds of the junior divisions for both male and females.

The surf is expected to decrease slightly for the second day of the event on Monday.  Variable winds are forecast before we look toward the middle of the week where tropical cyclone Hale advances toward the North Island.

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.  Action will take place from 8am – 5pm daily.

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.

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):

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

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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