Health 2000 National Surfing Championships Return to Taranaki
Above: Raglan's Billy Stairmand
The 2019 summer of surfing will kick off in Taranaki come January with New Zealand’s leading surfers competing at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships.
The longest running surfing event in New Zealand will take place over seven days from January 6-12 along the Taranaki Coastline, the home of numerous ex-title holders.
Surfing in home waters will be a rare treat for surfers from the region who have not contested the event in Taranaki since 2007. Taranaki surfers will be keen to see their names etched onto the honours board across the 29 divisions being contested during the week.
Notably only one title went west to Taranaki at the most recent edition of the event held at Gisborne during January this year. Jarred Hancox took out the Over 35 Men’s Division at the event to go with his previous three titles in the senior divisions.
The last Open Men’s Division title that went to Taranaki was that of Brent Hutchieson in 1995. Hutchieson secured the last of seven Taranaki titles which have also gone to the likes of Motu Mataa, Jason Matthews (2) and Ton Deken (3).
A national title in home waters may appeal to Hutchieson’s daughter Zhana who herself has become an accomplished surfer winning scholastic and Maori titles. While now being based in Australia, she may come home for the event.
Other top Taranaki contenders will be the likes of World Qualifying Series campaigner Daniel Farr, junior surfer Tom Butland and super grom Natasha Gouldsbury not to mention an array of older surfers contesting the senior divisions alongside Hancox.
Taranaki’s greatest export, 28-year-old Paige Hareb, is one local legend that is yet to secure a national title after being unable to compete for a number of years, including 2018, while on the World Tour.
Hareb is on the hunt to retain her World Tour spot for 2019 this week contesting the second-last major qualification event in Spain. Hareb is hoping to lift herself from thirteenth into the top six and a qualifying spot. Whether she will be eligible to compete at next year’s National Championships remains to be seen but with the event being hosted by her own Oakura Boardriders Club, no doubt she will be close by to support club mates should she be ineligible.
Defending Open Men’s Champion Ricardo Christie (Gis) is in his own qualification race sitting in sixteenth overall. Christie is looking to climb into the top ten on the Men’s Qualifying Series to reach the 2019 World Tour. A successful back-half of the competitive season starting in Portugal next month could lead to 2019 qualification and see Christie ineligible to defend his title, a bitter sweet scenario.
Gisborne Boardriders will go into the event as defending club champions, a title that the event hosts Oakura will be eager challenge for with a big field of local surfers expected to compete. Also up for grabs will be the Peter Byers Overall Performance of the Event Award which was claimed by Piha’s Elliot Paerata - Reid earlier this year.
In the 55 year history of the event the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships has grown to encompass 29 divisions spread across all disciplines and age groups making for a largely inclusive event, filled with high level surfing as well as good times in and out of the water.
It is expected in excess of 300 entries will be received for the event. Additional divisions comprise of age groups from Under 14 boys and girls through to Over 60s for males and females and also Longboard, Stand Up Paddleboard and Kneeboard disciplines.
2019 marks the tenth time the event has been held in the Taranaki region.
The Health 2000 National Surfing Championships forms the first leg of the 2019 New Zealand Surf Series which in turn provides a vital pathway toward the ISA World Surfing Games, a key Olympic qualification event in 2019.
Below is a schedule of events that will take place with surfing being held from approx. 8am – 4pm daily.
Day 1 – Open Men, Junior Boys divisions
Day 2 – Addition of Women’s divisions
Day 3 – Addition of Men’s senior age group divisions
Day 4 – Addition of Longboard divisions
Day 5 – Addition of SUP Divisions
Day 6 – Addition of SUP Divisions and Kneeboard
Day 7 – All divisions
Set out below are winners of the major divisions contested for the past five years.
2014 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2015 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2016 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2017 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2018 – Ricardo Christie (Gis)
2014 – Grace Spiers (WGM)
2015 – Gabriella Sansom (Auck)
2016 – Ella Williams (WGM)
2017 – Ella Williams (WGM)
2018 – Raiha Ensor (Mnt)
Under 18 Boys Division
2014 – Dune Kennings (WGM)
2015 – Kehu Butler (Mnt)
2016 – Elliot Brown (Dun)
2017 – Jonas Tawharu (Mnt)
2018 – Conor McLennan (Chch)
Under 18 Girls Division
2014 – Jasmine Smith (Gis)
2015 – Kea Smith (Mnt)
2016 – Elin Tawharu (Mnt)
2017 – Saffi Vette (Gis)
2018 – Elin Tawharu (Mnt)
2014 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
2015 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
2016 – Zen Wallis (Piha)
2017 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
2018 – Zen Wallis (Piha)