Hyundai National Champs Return to Taranaki
The 2007 Hyundai National Surfing Championships will be held in Taranaki, New Zealand in January and hosted by Oakura Boardriders. The event is set to take place from the 13th–20th January and will be the second event of the Corona Crown – New Zealand’s premier domestic competition. The event is regarded by many as the pinnacle domestic surfing event and as such attracts in excess of 300 entries from the length and breadth of the country.
The Taranaki coastline is a favourite for many New Zealand surfers. “It provides a good variation of surf breaks: reef, point and breakbreaks that can handle a wide variation of wind directions and provides good quality surf with offshore winds,” commented Oakura Boardriders representative Mark Braddock.
As such Taranaki provides a great event location with consistent swell allowing the huge eight-day event the best chance of getting quality waves. This will be the tenth time the event has been held in the region second only to Gisborne who have hosted the event eleven times.
Twenty national titles will go on the line come day one of the event and along with these go a number of records for the books. Notably, New Zealand’s number one surfer and defending event champion Maz Quinn (Gis) will look to join Wayne Parkes and Iain Buchanan by winning five national titles. Quinn has achieved more than most in the sport and this would be another fitting milestone.
“For sure, it is in the back of my mind,” said Quinn. “Winning a single title is amazing but to get five and be grouped with legends like Wayne and Iain would be even better”. Quinn has not secured a title in Taranaki but rates Stent Road as one of his favourite waves in New Zealand: “If we get to compete at Stent Road for part of the event then that would be awesome.”
Lisa Hurunui (Gis) is another of New Zealand’s top surfers who will be defending her title come January next year. Hurunui has recently stepped back from international competition after four years globe trotting around the world chasing World Qualifying Series points. Hurunui has won three titles (2000, 2001 and 2006) and many believe this total would be a lot higher had international commitments not prevented her from competing in the event in recent years.
Longboarder Michael Fitzharris (Gis) completely dominated this years Hyundai Pro Longboarding Tour and is the defending National Champion. Increased participation on the longboard tour this year points toward bigger numbers looking to knock him off his perch. However, Fitzharris will have different ideas as he heads toward his seventh title (fourth straight).
With the event being staged in mid January it is anticipated that many of New Zealand’s top juniors will return from Australia where they will be competing on the Australasian Pro Junior Series. This will boost the standard of surfing in the Men’s and Women’s divisions and could produce upsets from several of New Zealand’s top up and coming surfers.
Many of these top junior surfers come from the Taranaki region and as Mark Braddock points out, events like this are great for the local surfers: “For our juniors to have the exposure both as competitors and spectators to the level of surfing can only be a huge bonus for their development in the sport. It will provide them with the enthusiasm and determination to excel to the best of their abilities”.
As well as the premier Open Men’s, Open Women’s and Longboarding Divisions, there will be a further 17 divisions comprising of age groups from Under 14 to Over 50s and also Kneeboard and Bodyboard disciplines.