Longboarders Enjoy Rise in Swell at Hyundai National Surfing Champs
There was plenty of action this weekend in the Hyundai National Surfing Champs - the second event in the Corona Crown Series being held at Oakura, Taranaki, NZ between 13-20 January, 2007.
The longboard divisions of the Hyundai National Surfing Championships got to enjoy a gradual rise in the swell yesterday afternoon, completing the second day of competition in clean 1.0m swell. Young Ohope Beach surfer Dylan Barnfield exhibited some ultra smooth surfing, riding the nose as well as throwing his nine foot board around in critical turns to score 14.0 out of 20.
Barnfield is still eligible for the junior men’s divisions and has elected to also contest the junior men’s shortboard division. Barnfield placed first in the junior men’s division of the Hyundai Longboard Tour in 2006 and 7th in the open men’s division. His performance at yesterday's contest will be the perfect start to this year’s tour after moving through to the final eight surfers.
Barnfield wasn’t alone in the standout performance category yesterday with defending national and tour champion Michael Fitzharris (Gis) also surfing a brilliant heat. Fitzharris was locked in a tight battle with lesser known Trent Lillis of Auckland who placed a close second with a score of 15.25 behind Fitzharris’ 16.5.
Lillis lead for much of the heat until he lost his board after surfing without a leash attached to his foot and had to swim to the beach to retrieve his board ultimately being relegated to second place after Fitzharris rode his highest scoring ride with only seconds remaining in the twenty minute heat.
The last two quarterfinals were dominated by some of New Zealand’s more famous shortboard surfers. First Jay Quinn (Gis) put on a powerful performance scoring 15.10 with a series of big turns and a nose ride to ‘helicopter’ where he completed a full 360 degree turn.
While many believe that Quinn has entered the longboard for fun, few realise that he has actually enjoyed riding the longer board ever since he started surfing and makes sure he gets out on them when ever possible – predominantly on the smaller days. In the last heat of the day Daniel Kereopa (Rag) equalled the score of Fitzharris (16.5) when he won his heat over Mount Maunganui surfer Ant McColl who progressed in second place.
The Hyundai Women’s Longboard Division saw the second lot of finalists found yesterday after the Under 14 Boys division was surfed down to the last four surfers first thing in the morning. Sister act Jo and Sophia Moore of Muriwai placed first and second in their heat. Older sister Jo surfed to the highest single wave score of the event to date with a near perfect 9.0 point ride on one wave. Anna Jolly (Piha) and Hilary East (Auck) progressed through the second semifinal together and will meet the sister act once the finals begin later next week.
The performance levels stepped up a notch in the Quiksilver Under 16 Boys yesterday as they moved through to the quaterfinals with the top eight surfers being determined. Tyler Anderson was the sole Taranaki local to make it through to the ‘semi’s’ after placing second to Jay Paddock in heat one.
He was almost joined by another local, Michael Mallalieu in the last heat - however in the dying seconds of his heat Mallalieu was out paddled by Piha surfer Zen Wallis who obtained priority for the last wave ridden and scored the heat high 7.0 points to move from third to second behind Buck Woods (Gis) who won the heat.
Matt Hewitt (Mnt) and Braedon Williams (WGM) also won their quarterfinal heats with Williams looking particularly impressive winning out over Piha’s Ryan Hawker. All eight surfers know what is on the line with the chance to represent New Zealand at the international Quiksilver King of the Groms final to be held in Durban South Africa later in the year.
The first finalists of the Hyundai Nationals were found first thing in the morning in the Breakers Under 14 Boys division. Both Tane Wallis and Patxi Scott-Arreita showed strong form progressing through their semifinal together. Wallis scored 17.75 to win the heat with the highest score of the event to date and he further stamps his dominance on the division.
Both Dune Kennings and Fintan Cram of Whangamata also made it through to the finals – their first in the under 14 age division. They looked more than happy at their feats and headed straight back into the water to practice for the final which will be held later next week.
The forecast for today is looking favourable for a move down the coast with the swell forecast to increase further overnight. An official decision on venue and divisions to be contested on day three of the Hyundai National Championships will be made at 7.00am this morning.