Twenty eight year old Daniel Kereopa of Raglan secured the top podium spot in the Open Men’s Division of the Hyundai National Championships this weekend. Not happy with one title, Kereopa also won his first open longboard title and senior men’s (over-28s) title. His verdict on winning the title in Taranaki, New Zealand was a simple: "I’m stoked!"
Kereopa (pictured left post-win) found the extra speed that was required in the junky half metre surf at Taranaki’s Arawhata Road near Opunake. After moving through the early rounds of the event in less than dominant form many said he would either get eliminated from the event or pull out an overdue perfect performance, which eventually came in the final when he posted 16.00 out of a possible 20.
Kereopa’s first wave scored 9.0 after he seamlessly strung several big turns together all the way to the inside and over the shallow rocks. Less than five minutes from the end of the final he backed up his first wave with a 7.0 point ride and the title was his. “I am just glad to get rid of that open title haunt, it’s a done deal, I just want to get back in the water and go surfing now that I have achieved it," he said.
Kereopa had won two titles during the day prior to the Open Men’s in average surf. The previous rounds may have helped Kereopa familiarise himself with the line up: "I wasn’t the fittest guy out there but I made sure I carefully selected my waves catching 2-3 waves in each heat and I pulled it off," he said.
Maz Quinn (pictured below) waited until the dying stages of the final until he made an attack on Kereopa’s lead but his final wave score of 6.40 was well short of the 8.26 he required to pull off his fifth national title. Despite early promise, New Zealander Quinn couldn't find the waves to defeat a determined Kereopa.
Raglan’s Leon Santorik placed third in the final - one place less than he achieved back in 2005 when he came agonisingly close to the open title. Local surfer and crowd favourite Motu Mataa placed fourth in the final, unable to find the good waves that he had throughout the event.
Sandy Bay enjoyed their second title in a row when Wini Paul stormed to victory scoring 13.0 points in the final. Paul had been in great form all week posting high heat scores and looking confident in her surfing. In today’s final she opened up early with an excellent 8.0 point ride that she completed on the rocks. “My legs were burning after that wave, I tried to milk it all the way and do as many big turns with spray as possible," she said.
From then it was a case of making sure she backed it up with a second wave which she did midway through the heat with a 5.0. Perhaps not one of the favourites to win the event, Paul knew her form was good prior to the event and felt that this could be the time. “I was definitely hoping I would win the title," she said. "I know I have been surfing good in Australia so yeah I am so stoked that I put it all together and won."
Paige Hareb (Tara) challenged time and time again but fell short posting 12.50 to place second. One of the form surfers of the event, Christchurch’s Daisy Thomas, scored the highest single wave score of the final, an 8.50 late in the heat but the lack of a back-up wave saw her placed third with Jessica Santorik placed fourth with a score of 9.60.
Only one heat prior to the Open Women, the Under 18 Boys Division was won by Paco Divers – one of Wini Paul’s best friends. Divers lead the final from the very first wave and by the time he scored 8.50 on his second wave it was all over. Tim O’Conner worked hard on his waves with a best ride of 7.00 but fell short requiring a further 6.51 point ride to win. Raglan’s Billy Stairmand placed third in the final ahead of Tairua’s Sean Peggs.
John Gisby (Gis) picked up his first of two titles at the event when he won the Hyundai Over 50s. It took Gisby more than half the twenty five minute final to find his feet but when he did everything started to happen first posting an excellent 8.00 point ride then a 6.75 to finish the heat. Piha’s David Storck placed second after two late waves slightly ahead of Chris Davies (Tara) and Barry MacColloch of Tairua in fourth.
Less than a heat after his first title Gisby was out again in the Hyundai Over 45s. In a low scoring affair Gisby posted a total of 10.15 for the win ahead of double finalist David Storck with John Lovell (Tara) in third and Gisborne’ Rod Welch in fourth.
Taranaki’s Jason Matthews took out two titles today with the first coming in the Hyundai Over 45s division. His win was initially shared with older brother Seth in a two way tie. Both scoring 15.25, it was Jason who had the highest single wave score of 8.75 compared with Seth’s 8.0 and as such was given the win.
Northland’s Billy Hale, who had to contend with three Waitara surfers decide that he would surf his own peak in the middle of the bay. While he surfed a few good waves it was not enough to finish higher than third slightly ahead of Dano Waiwiri.
After the over 40’s win Jason Matthews picked up his second title scoring 15.0 in the final of the Hyundai Over 35s which featured solely Taranaki surfers. Brother Seth was also in the final but this time had to settle for fourth behind Erin Saunders (Tara) in second and Chris Blain in third place.
The Hyundai Senior Women saw Anna Jolly take out another title after her first in the Hyundai Women Longboard yesterday. Monique Taylor (Wgtn) gave her a good run for her money scoring 12.75 in the final but she could not eclipse Jolly’s 15.25. Liz Hughes (Rag) placed third ahead of Gina Kennings (Rag) in fourth and Cherie Wallis (Piha) in fifth.
Daniel Kereopa (Rag) won his first of three titles in the Over 28s today. Kereopa scored 14.75 in his heat to win making light work of the marginal conditions. Chris Millett (Mur) followed close behind but was unable to generate the same speed and had to settle for second place. David Van Staden required a near perfect score to win the final and fell short on his last wave posting 6.90 right on the hooter. Whangamata’s Matt Johnston placed fourth.
The bodyboarders kicked off the finals day and Jarred Ferris of Gisborne was another surfer to pick up double titles, this time in the Vertigo Open Bodyboard and then the Vertigo Dropknee Bodyboard. New Zealand representative Andrew Low placed second in the open men’s with Steve Abraham (Piha) in third and Wanganui’s Ben McKinnon in fourth.
Steve Abraham came back in the Hot Buttered Under 18 bodyboard placing a close second behind Mount Maunganui’s Luke Elliot. Poppy Chapman of Wellington won the Ocean and Earth Women’s Bodyboard ahead of Serena Ball with Erica Cusack in third.
Hyundai Open Men Final
Daniel Kereopa (Rag), 1, Maz Quinn (Gis), 2, Leon Santorik (Rag), 3, Motu Mataa (Tara), 4
Hyundai Open Women Final
Wini Paul (Sandy Bay), 1, Paige Hareb (Tara), 2, Daisy Thomas (ChCh), 3, Jessica Santorik (Rag), 4
Hyundai Under 18 Men Final
Paco Divers (Whan), 1, Tim O’Conner (Mnt), 2, Billy Stairmand (Rag), 3, Sean Peggs (Tai), 4
Hyundai Open Longboard Final
Daniel Kereopa (Rag), 1, Jay Quinn (Gis), 2, Michael Fitzharris (Gis), 3, Jason Matthews (Waitara), 4
Hyundai Over 28 Final
Daniel Kereopa (Rag), 1, Chris Millett (Muriwai), 2, David Van Staden (Rag), 3, Matt Johnson (WGM), 4
Hyundai Over 35s Final
Jason Matthews (Tara), 1, Erin Saunders (Tara), 2, Chris Blain (Tara), 3, Seth Matthews (Tara), 4
Hyundai Over 40s Final
Jason Matthews (Tara), 1, Seth Matthews (Tara), 2, Billy Hale (Kait), 3, Dano Waiwiri (Waitara), 4
Hyundai Over 45s Final
John Gisby (Gis), 1, David Stork (Piha), 2, John Lovell (Tara), 3, Rod Welch (Gis), 4
Hyundai Over 50s Final
John Gisby (Gis), 1, Chris Davies (Oakura), 2, David Stork (Piha), 3, Barry MacColloch (Tai), 4
Hyundai Over 30 Women Final
Anna Jolly (Piha), 1, Monique Taylor (Wgtn), 2, Liz Hughes (Rag), 3, Gina Kennings (Rag), 4, Cherie Wallis (Piha), 5
NMD/Vertigo Open Bodyboard Final
Jarred Ferris (Gis), 1, Andrew Low (Auck), 2, Steve Abraham (Opotiki), 3, Ben McKinnon, 4
Ocean and Earth Women Bodyboard Final
Poppy Chapman(Wgtn) 1, Sarena Ball, 2, Erica Cussack, 3, Andrea Willets (Tara), 4, Melanie McElwee, 5
NMD/ Vertigo Dropknee Bodyboard Final
Jarred Ferris (Gis), 1, Sam Peters, 2, Shane Petersen, 3, Kyle Adams (Tara), 4
Hot Buttered Under 18 Bodyboard Final
Luke Elliot (Mnt), 1, Steve Abraham (Auck), 2, Harlem Kirton (Auck), 3, Max Clifford, 4