Rough ride for surfers at Piha

Mount Maunganui legend Phill Griffin raising his arms to show how big the surf is in the Over 55s Division. Photo: Cory / NZ Surfing Magazine.

Competitors from two ends of the age spectrum contested the third day of the 2017 National Surfing Championships at Piha on Tuesday.

Competitors spanned six decades, with surfers ranging from the Under 14 Boys Division to Over 60s Division.

The conditions continued to give surfers a rough ride at Piha with surf in the 1.0m – 1.5m mark, with continual onshore westerly winds prevailing throughout the day.

Many of the competing seniors were parents of a second generation of surfers at the event, primarily there to support their children.

Deep down there was a desire to test their mettle against old friends and foes they see on an annual basis.

Where parents usually sit on the beach throwing instructions to the ocean, they were replaced with young surfers barely in their teens, giving advice on where to sit in the Piha line up, how to construct a heat and formulate a back-up plan.

Those parents who listened to their children prevailed, as those young surfers had already endured two days of rough Piha conditions.

Two such surfers were Raglan's Phill Willoughby and Michi Jungwirth. Willoughby surfed to the highest heat score of the day 14.0 points out of a possible 20 in his Over 45s Division semifinal.

The low tide conditions at Piha bar offered up just enough resemblance to the point breaks of Raglan for Willoughby to rack up the big heat total.

Jungwirth contested the Over 50s Division and advanced through to the semifinals which will be contested in the next two days.

Other parents who excelled include local surfer Phil Wallis and Derek Brunker (Whangarei) in the Over 50s Division and Mount Maunganui man Phill Griffin in the Over 55s Division.

While the parents were competing in abundance, it was those still young at heart who also shone through. The biggest turn of the day came from Tui Eves (Auck) who smashed the big walling waves on the outer bank of the Piha Bar. Eves progressed through to the final of the Over 45s Division and semifinals of the Over 50s Division.

Raglan's Deane Hishon also looked strong after an enforced injury break from the line up, making the final of the Over 45s Division.

In the Over 60s Division it was David Storck (Piha) and Rupert Newbold (Ocean Beach) who advanced to the final where they will meet Mike Trainer (Auck) and local legend Clive Barron (Piha).

It is also the first time the Under 14 Girls Division has been contested at the National Champs and the participants had to battle solid conditions on the low tide to advance through to the final.

Christchurch surfer Ava Henderson showed a huge amount of guts taking on the waves and posting an 11.0 point heat total to advance alongside Brie Bennett (Rag) who also looked comfortable. In the second semifinal it was local surfer Alice Westerkamp who advanced alongside Natasha Gouldsbury (Levin).

The final heats of the day saw Jayden Willoughby (Rag) and Myka Black (Chch) win through to the final of the Under 14 Boys Division, where they will be joined by Tom Robinson (Whangarei) and Kora Cooper (Rag).

The swell is expected to decrease to the smallest size of the week on Wednesday and variable 10 knot winds are forecast. Another full day of surfing is expected to take place with a number of finals for the youngest divisions as well as the senior divisions and longboards being held.



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Beauty after the storm. Photo: Tracy Hardy. Send us your photos from around the Bay of Plenty. photos@thesun.co.nz