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40 Frames: NZ Surf Nats The Grand Finale

Finals Day for the Open Men and Women goes down to the wire at the 2024 New Zealand Surfing Champs.

Team Taranaki celebrates Daniel Farr’s second Open Title. Photo: Derek Morrison

No one in the packed crowd on the steps of St Clair Beach could have predicted the Open Men’s Final would boil down to a tie break between defending Champion Dune Kennings and 2022 Champion, Daniel Farr. Even fewer would have picked fellow finalists, Billy Stairmand and Caleb Cutmore – two of our most consistent performers, would not play a leading role in that final battle.

With 30 seconds to go Daniel had the edge in the tie break with a higher single-wave score. Then Dune paddled for a wave and tore it to shreds – much like the wave Billy Stairmand found at the end of the 2022 final in Westport. It looked like Daniel’s dreams might be dashed. The judges didn’t think so, Dune’s score coming up just shy of the requirement. And Daniel takes title number two.

The Open Women’s was equally as exciting with event-long standout Alani Morse taking on seasoned pro Brie Bennett, Estella Hungerford and wildcard 15-year-old Maya Mateja.

The final quickly became an Estella and Maya show as the pair hunted the best waves and took the fight straight to each other. With a group of vocal supporters on the beach Maya drew on their energy to rise to the top as the hooter went.

At 15 Maya is one of the youngest women to win the coveted title. Heidi Shanks took the honours in 1994, also held at Dunedin, when she won the Open Women’s at 15. Ava Henderson was the youngest ever when she won the title at 14 in 2020, also held in Dunedin.

You can read the full 2024 Nats finals day story right here.

Here’s 40 Frames from finals day at the 2024 Nats:
Billy Stairmand throws caution to the wind. Photo: Derek Morrison
Defending champion Dune Kennings in finals prep mode. Photo: Derek Morrison
Finals day moments. Photo: Derek Morrison
Defending champion Dune Kennings on fire throughout finals day. Photo: Derek Morrison
Masterful as ever, Billy Stairmand chasing title number nine. Photo: Derek Morrison
Leia Millar found herself in a tough semi-final clash. Photo: Derek Morrison
Spencer Rowson was one of the most consistent performers all week. Photo: Derek Morrison
Taylor Hutchison’s backhand projections were so good. Photo: Derek Morrison
Gabi Paul belting a section.Lyrical wizard: Simon FritchleyTaylor Hutch down the line.Natasha Gouldsbury took a surprisingly early exit. nThe trigger-happy priority pit.Alani Morse on point. Tao Mouldey and Tom Robinson compare notes. Billy Stairmand aloft.
2024 New Zealand Surfing Champion: Daniel Farr. Photo: Derek Morrison

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