Taranaki’s Daniel Farr and Raglan 15-year-old Maya Mateja win the 2024 New Zealand Surfing Champs held in Dunedin over the past week.
An explosive final day of the 2024 National Surfing Championships has seen Taranaki surfer Daniel Farr claim his second national title by the closest margin in the history of the event. 24-year-old Farr was tied with Piha surfer Dune Kennings on a heat score of 16.50, winning by way of having the highest single wave score of a 9.0 vs Kennings’ 8.5 point ride.
Another young star has emerged in the Women’s Division with 15-year-old Maya Mateja stunning the field to win the Open Women’s Division.
The final day of the event was played out on a true “Dunner Stunner” day with 30 degree-plus temperatures and clean 1.0m waves bringing a big crowd to the beach to watch proceedings.
“Yeah that was an intense final. What a way to win it,” said Farr almost in disbelief at his win. “When I got that 9.0 point ride, I was extremely stoked. I landed that last turn and I knew I needed to.”
Farr held the lead from the halfway point of the final.
“I was happy with a nine but to see Dune come out with two 8.5 point rides – hearing that for the last seven or eight minutes of the final was nerve wracking,” admitted Farr. “It just made me nervous and I was stressing out but it worked out in my favour by the end of the final.”
Dune Kennings seemed destined to settle for second but not before the ocean dished up one last opportunity to defend his title with less than 30 seconds remaining.
Kennings required an 8.51 for the victory but came up short with a 7.0 point ride with a series of turns on his forehand, that saw Daniel applaud him for what he thoguhts was a clutch wave.
“Dune’s wave was a bomb, it looked like the best wave that came through the whole final and I couldn’t do anything about it and I just started clapping, I knew he could get the score,” explains Farr of the final exchange and his recognition of Kennings wave with a premature congratulatory clap. “But in the end the scores went my way. Dune is an amazing surfer and I thought he may have had it.”
This is Farr’s second title, his first coming in 2022 at Westport.
Farr becomes the eleventh surfer in the 61-year history of the event to claim more than one title.
“I said before I came down here talking to my mates and family ‘shall we go number two?’ and it happened,” he adds. “It worked out in my favour, I got the right waves and god blessed me with the ability to surf well on them.”
“To make it two is unreal,” said an emotional Farr.
Finishing in third was eight-time champion Billy Stairmand who could not find a rhythm with the ocean in the final. Raglan’s Caleb Cutmore finished in fourth place – also finding himself out of sync with the waves in the final.
Maya Mateja stunned the field of surfers in the Open Women’s Division to claim the title, the third youngest surfer to do so. Mateja finished with a 12.90 point heat total for the win.
“I prepared for this event to win but all the girls were ripping and I honestly didn’t know whether I was capable,” said the young surfer.
Mateja first got a sniff of the title when she posted a 7.10 point ride to get close to Christchurch surfer Estella Hungerford who got off to an early start with a 6.9 point ride.
“I thought that was a good score and maybe I can do it,” she said.
Then Mateja added a 5.80-point ride to jump Hungerford for first.
“I started to get nervous then, but the ocean went quiet,” Mateja recalls. “I could hear my friends screaming from the shore. I am so happy that I am at this level.”
The Raglan surfer was at the event with her brother and friends.
“The first thing I did was talk to Dad back at Raglan, he was so happy and I also got a long message from mum in Mexico but my phone went flat and I didn’t get a chance to read the whole message.”
Hungerford finished the final in second place, her career best result.
13-year-old Alani Morse, of Raglan, finished in third place with Brie Bennett, also of Raglan, in fourth place.
Earlier in the day Kennings and Cutmore eliminated Piha’s Elliot Paerata–Reid and Dunedin’s final hope – Jack McLeod.
In the second semifinal Stairmand and Farr eliminated Taylor Hutchison, of Raglan, and Taranaki’s Spencer Rowson.
In the Women’s Division Morse and Bennett defeated Gisborne’s Saffi Vette and Dunedin local Jaya Reardon in the first semifinal and Mateja and Hungerford defeated the Piha duo Leia Millar and Liv Haysom.
The boardrider club title went to Raglan’s Point Boardriders.