2007 Hyundai National Surfing Championships - Corona Crown Series and Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour – event two.

The Hyundai National Surfing Championships will potentially draw the strongest field of surfers in its 44 year history when they commence on Saturday. The event is being staged from the 13th – 20th of January along the Taranaki coastline and spectators are set to see the best surfing New Zealanders have to offer over the eight days. Not only will New Zealand’s world ranked surfers (Maz Quinn, Bobby Hansen, Jay Quinn and Matt Scorringe) be present but so will the majority of our emerging young talent who will jet back from Australia to compete at the event.

There are currently fourteen of New Zealand’s top junior (under 20) surfers competing on the Australasian Pro Junior Tour – regarded as the most prestigious in the world. The majority of these surfers will be returning for the Hyundai Nationals after competing at Bells Beach, Victoria, Australia this week. Traditionally these surfers have had to choose which event to compete at prior to this year’s Nationals being held a week later than normally scheduled. The change in scheduling will see the likes of Richard Christie (Mah) and Mischa Davis (Auck) return for the event. In 2006 Christie missed the opportunity to defend his open men’s and junior men’s titles he won at the age of 16 – the youngest ever open men’s National Champion. Davis on the other hand has not competed in the event since 2004 when she finished third behind then unknown Airini Mason at Piha. Davis has since plied her trade in Australia where she finished fourth in the Pro Junior Series in 2006 – a brilliant result only eclipsed by Mason who won the tour.

The young up-and-comers will have their work cut out though with New Zealand’s most hardened competitors also set to compete next week. The Quinn brothers will use the event as a warm up for their international campaigns as will Bobby Hansen of Gisborne. However, it is understood that Hansen has a knee injury that has sidelined him for the past two weeks. His full fitness is in doubt and will not be determined until the event kicks off on Saturday. Daniel Kereopa (Rag) will again try for the elusive national title when he combines the open men’s division with the longboards which he will also contest in a quest to win the Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour for 2007 and topple Michael Fitzharris (Gis).

The Taranaki coastline offers up so many unique breaks that the strong local contingent of surfers cannot be dismissed at the event. The region boasts a huge talent pool of surfers. The recently formed regional association, Surfing Taranaki, is set to join the forces of the regions boardriders clubs and the initiative could produce results as early as this event. Top competitors such as Paige Hareb in the women’s will no doubt lead the way but the potential champions list is endless. Jason Matthews and Motu Mataa have made recent comebacks to competition and will be there come finals time of the senior divisions. Simon Deken has also entered the event and along with Issac Peterson and Luke Kerr is more than capable of progressing well into the business end of the event. Then there is the huge field of junior surfers such as Keone Campbell, Tyler Anderson and Mark Pathemore who could produce wins.

WHAT: The 2007 Hyundai National Surfing Championships is the second of six events on the Corona Crown Series for 2006/07. The event also marks the second of six events on the Hyundai pro Longboard Tour for 2007.

WHEN: Saturday 13th – Saturday 20th of January 2007.

WHERE: The amazing coastline of Taranaki. The event will be hosted by Oakura Boardriders with all decisions for daily event locations being made from the Oakura Boardriders Clubrooms.

WHO: In excess of 300 entries from the best surfers around New Zealand. Spread across 21 divisions everyone will be out vying for prestigious titles.

FORMAT: Standard event format with four man heats and 50% progression in all 21 divisions. The majority of finals will be staged on Saturday the 20th of January conditions permitting.

STATUS: The Hyundai National Surfing Championships is rated 5 Star on the Corona Crown Series and sanctioned by Surfing New Zealand.

DID YOU KNOW:

Maz Quinn (Gis) is gunning for his fifth Open Men’s National title a feat only two other surfers in NZ have completed (Wayne Parkes and Iain Buchanan).

Daniel Kereopa (Rag), despite winning five series titles in the past six years is yet to win an Open Men’s national title.

Jay Quinn (Gis) despite being New Zealand’s third highest rated surfer on the international stage is yet to win an Open Men’s title. Jay has won U/14, U/16 and U/18 titles at the nationals. Likewise Bobby Hansen (Gis) will also try to add an open title to his three age groups titles.

Michael Fitzharris (Gis) is going for his seventh longboard title. He heads into the event as one of the favourites to win and make a good start to the Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour after the first event at Mount Maunganui was cancelled last weekend.

Gisborne’s John Gisby is the holder of the most national titles with a whopping 24 to his name. Now 53, Gisby still contests divisions with surfers eight years his junior.

The Taranaki region currently puts claim to two national titles held by Paige Hareb in the Under 16 Girls and Seth Matthews in the Over 40s.

HISTORY:

This will be the tenth time the event has been staged in the Taranaki Region in its 44 year history. The event was last hosted by Opunake Boardriders in 2005. The region has an abundance of quality surf breaks that dot the coastline, many of which have world class qualities. The plentiful options mean that this years champions will have to contest left and right hand point breaks as well as the beach breaks in the area making all successful champions at this event truly diverse surfers.

The National Championships is steeped in history and is far and away the most prestigious single event on the New Zealand surfing calendar, gathering the biggest field of surfers year upon year. The 2006 Hyundai Nationals amassed a total of 350 entries across the 21 divisions and a similar field of surfers is expected this year. Many of New Zealand’s top surfers staking a claim on the international stage travel back to New Zealand to compete at the event ensuring that the level of surfing is as good as it gets.

Complete lists of all National Champions are located on the Surfing New Zealand website under History – www.surfingnz.co.nz