Battle Lines Drawn For Inaugural Hurley NZ Club Champs
The inaugural Hurley New Zealand Club Championships will fly into action at Whangamata this weekend with the country’s top clubs drawing on their local talent pools to claim national provincial honours and serious bragging rights.
The unique event morphs surfing into a team concept where surfers compete for their club across standard heats as well as the incredibly exciting tag team format. Results from the tag team and heats are tallied to find an overall club champion.
The major clubs around New Zealand have wasted little time in securing their elite members to battle for silverware.
Point Boardriders of Raglan will whisk six-time National Champion Billy Stairmand straight off the plane on Friday night and bring him to Whangamata to compete. Stairmand has just finished the Australian leg of the World Qualifying Series and will be back in New Zealand for less than 24 hours before he puts on the coloured vest to compete.
“This is the type of event that New Zealand needs, they are so fun to compete in and bring everyone together as a club” said Stairmand who was recently in attendance at the Australian version and said that the atmosphere was electric.
Stairmand is joined by three additional 2017 National Champions in Chris Malone, Caleb Cutmore and Brie Bennett along with 2016 Open Men’s Division runner up Luke Hughes.
The Point Boardriders Club was the top ranked team at this year’s National Championships held at Piha in January and will go into this event as number one seeds and favourites.
Like Point Boardriders, the host Whangamata Boardriders Club has called on the international expertise of Ella Williams to anchor their team. Ella, also having recently returned from Australia, has excellent knowledge of the tag team format having been part of the New Zealand Team that secured a copper medal at the 2016 World Surfing Games.
Waihi Beach Boardriders will send a youthful team led by Levi Stewart but it is the talent-laden Bay Boardriders a further 60 minutes south at Mount Maunganui that is expected to challenge for the title.
Such is the strength of the club, they have submitted two teams to compete this weekend. Ex-New Zealand representatives Matt Hewitt, Alex Dive and Callum Chuter lead the team along with Tiana – Breeze de Mooij in the Women’s Division and Martin Stenzel in the Senior Division.
The Auckland Region will be represented by two clubs, the powerful Maori Bay Boardriders Club out of Muriwai and Lion Rock Boardriders from Piha. They are two of the most active clubs in New Zealand, harbour a wealth of talent across the board and are expected to push hard for a podium finish.
The Maori Bay club has opted for an inclusive approach bringing several additional surfers to fill separate roles in both the Tag Team format and the individual heats.
The northern most club to attend the event this weekend is the North Coast Boardriders surfing out of Sandy Bay.
“We integrate team aspects into several events such as the National Championships and the Scholastic Championships where a team points system is used but the Hurley NZ Club Champs, as a stand-alone event, is new for New Zealand” Contest Director Ben Kennings said.
“The objective of the event is to bring clubs together to compete in a team environment, an aspect which is so often missing in standard surfing events. This gives clubs an event to target and then test themselves against the rest of the country as they cheer on their team mates for provincial glory” added Kennings.
Teams comprise two men, one female, one junior (under 20) and one senior (over 35).
The tag team event is a relay-styled format where team mates have a total of one hour to go out and catch three waves each in succession with the teams total points tallied to find an overall winner against the other clubs.
On top of the tag team event, each surfer will compete in their age group in standard heats to find division winners with the points split evenly between the tag team format and the individual heats.
The 2017 Hurley Club Championships will take place at Whangamata from 8:00am – 5:00pm on Saturday at Beach Access 8.