The bad weather that continues to plague New Zealand this summer has had an impact on day one of the 2012 Hyundai National Surfing Championships at Piha today (Sunday 15th January) with the remnants of the large westerly swell holding throughout the day.
The conditions restricted action to only four hours of surfing in the solid 2.0m swells. The Open Longboard and Stand Up Paddleboard divisions hit the water as well as the ever entertaining Stand Up Paddleboard race that brought the beach to their feet as they navigated the beach break conditions.
The Open Longboard threw up several upsets with 2010 National Champion Dylan Barnfield (Ohope) being eliminated in the first round courtesy of Daniel Procter (Gis) and Matt Cockayne (Auck).
Procter missed the first event of the Hyundai Tour last weekend but stormed back into competitive mode today scoring 11.40 out of a possible 20 points to win his heat in the less than favourable conditions.
"You just had to read the ocean real well, the waves all looked the same but not every wave hit the bank. It is the same for everybody out there though" said Procter who admitted to still trying to find his feet after a month out of the water while on holiday with his family in Australia.
Procter won his first national title at Piha in 2009. A repeat performance would get his year off to a belated start and the prestige of another national title is what brought him back to the event this week.
Defending longboard champion and current Hyundai Tour ratings leader Thomas Kibblewhite top scored for the day posting 13.33 points. Kibblewhite progressed through to the semifinals alongside Sam Bradford (Auck).
The two additional heat wins on day one unexpectedly came from young 17 year old Ben Poulter (Rag) who made a successful transition to the longboard winning his first heat. At the other end of the spectrum was 45-year-old ex champion Michael Fitzharris (Gis) who charged home late in his heat to win with a 12.33 point ride.
The aging seven times national champion Fitzharris was unrivalled in the water putting his superior wave knowledge to the test surfing wider on the Piha Bar than his opponents. Fitzharris finished with a 12.33 point heat total to progress alongside Ant McColl (Mnt), the two surfers eliminating the more fancied Trent Dickey (Aus) and the youngest competitor in the division, Sam Poulter (Rag).
The Stand Up Paddleboarders found it hard dealing with the unruly surface conditions during their time in the water. However, despite the challenges the top seeds stood out with defending champion Daniel Kereopa (Rag) and 2009 National Champion Shayne Baxter (Chch) both producing excellent surfing and big scores to win their heats.
Kereopa finished with a 13.23 point heat total but it was Baxter that topped the round posting 13.50 out of 20.
The two surfers then took to the water for the 3.0km King of the Waves Stand Up Paddleboard Race. The two laps through the cove of South Piha and out through the break took its toll on competitors with Armie Armstrong (Rag) eventually coming out on top narrowly ahead of Jeremy Stephenson (Auck). Kereopa managed third place with Baxter in fourth.
The surf is expected to remain a similar size for day two with surf potentially with an increase in size in the afternoon. However Auckland Surf's Paul Greenland says that the swell could come a little earlier than expected tomorrow meaning another day of solid swell on tap. Winds are expected to be more favourable for day two which will commence at 8:00am.
Please see below for results from Day One of the 2012 Hyundai National Surfing Championships held at Piha Beach, Auckland today.
Open Longboard Round 1
Ben Poulter (Rag), 12.67, 1, Zen Wallis (Piha), 8.4, 2, Andrew Robinson (Auck), 8.03, 3, Jamie Andrews (Waitara), 5.17, 4
Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck), 13.33, 1, Sam Bradford (Pakiri), 5, 2, Sam Bound (Tara), 2.87, 3
Daniel Proctor (Gis), 11.4, 1, Matt Cockayne (Mngwhai), 10.6, 2, Dylan Barnfield (Ohope), 9.73, 3, Geoff Calvert (Piha), 4.23, 4
Michael Fitzharris (Gis), 12.33, 1, Ant McColl (Mnt), 9.2, 2, Sam Poulter (Rag), 7.4, 3, Trent Dickey (Auck), 6.33, 4
Stand Up Paddleboard Round 1
Gavin Broadbent (Auck), 6.67, 1, Annabel Anderson (Auck), 5.3, 2, Georgia Schofield (Auck), 3, 3, Sasha Brownlie (Auck), 2.1, 4
Stand Up Paddleboard Round Quarterfinals
Daniel Kereopa (Rag), 13.23, 1, Warwick Gray (Hawaii), 8.27, 2, Gavin Broadbent (Auck), 7.97, 3, Shane Murrell (Auck), 5.77, 4
Shayne Baxter (ChCh), 13.5, 1, Annabel Anderson (Auck), 3.93, 2, Scott Eliott (Auck), 0, 3, Maria Kingi (Piha), NS, 4
Karlos Aarsen (Whmata), 9.83, 1, Jeremy Stephenson (Auck), 9.6, 2, Sean Hovell (Gis), 8.33, 3, Robert Hawkins (Rag), 4.6, 4
Armie Armstrong (Rag), 9.87, 1, Lynden Kennings (Whgmata), 9.77, 2, Charlie Crews (Ham), 6.33, 3, Mike Cann (Auck), 3.9, 4
Stand Up Paddleboard Race
1st Armie Armstrong (Rag), 2nd Jeremy Stephenson (Auck), 3rd Daniel Kereopa (Rag), 4th Shayne Baxter (Chch)
The all encompassing seven day event runs from the 15th - 21st of January. Please see below for a guide to when remaining divisions are expected to be contested.
Day 2 (Mon 16th Jan) - All longboard, SUP Surf, U14 Boys, U16 Boys
Day 3 (Tues 17th Jan) - Open Men, Under 18, 16, 14 Boys, All longboard, SUP Surf
Day 4 (Wed 18th Jan) - Open Men, Under 18, 16, 14 Boys, All longboard, SUP Surf, All Women's, All Seniors
Day 5 (Thurs 19th Jan) - Open Men, Under 18, 16, 14 Boys, All longboard, SUP Surf, All Women's, All Seniors, Kneeboard"
Day 6 (Fri 20th Jan) - Open Men, Under 18, 16, 14 Boys, All longboard, SUP Surf, All Women's, All Seniors, Potentially some finals
Day 7 (Sat 21st Jan) - Finals, All Bodyboard
The Hyundai National Championships were first held in 1963 when they took place at Mount Maunganui. In its infancy, the event comprised Open Men's and Women's as well as Under 18 Men's divisions only. Since then it has grown to comprise a colossal 25 divisions across all disciplines and the 2012 edition will crown New Zealand's 500th national champion.
Twenty five national titles will go up for grabs at the Hyundai National Championships. As well as the premier Open Men's and Open Women's Divisions, there will be a further 23 divisions comprising of age groups from Under 14 through to Over 50s and also longboard, Stand Up Paddleboard, Bodyboard and Kneeboard disciplines.