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Five Minutes With National Champion Daniel Farr

Hot on the heels of his 2024 New Zealand Surfing Championship we catch up with Taranaki’s Daniel Farr to find out how it feels to win his second Open title … and the moment he knew he had won it.

Daniel Farr in heat preparation mode on finals day. Photo: Derek Morrison

Daniel Farr wasn’t on the radar for the 2024 National Championships … well, not for most. That’s the way he likes it. That’s how we won his first title two years ago in Westport – saving his best surfing for the final to storm the podium ahead of Billy Stairmand. And in 2024 that hadn’t changed. He quietly pickled his way through his heats – only ever showing his true intentions when he met with Billy Stairmand in the quarterfinal match-up which turned into an exciting exchange of air revs, with Daniel taking the win on that occasion.

Daniel surfed a clean, quiet approach to the earlier rounds. Photo: Derek Morrison

Roll on the final and it was all about the battle between defending champion Dune Kennings and Daniel. Right to the end it was wave for wave with the judges feeling the pressure to split excellent airs from excellent rides. A last minute wave from Dune had the whole arena at St Clair wondering where the dice would land …

Daniel goes to the air during an early exchange with Billy Stairmand. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: Firstly, congrats Daniel, tell us how does it feel to win your second national title?

Daniel Farr: Stoked is probably the best way to describe the feeling. My main goal in surfing and competing is to make everyone who supports me proud … it’s a bit more than just personal gain for me. So, I’m just really stoked I could achieve another title and bring it back to the Naki for my family, friends, the community we have here and everyone who’s supported me since I was a grom.

It’s also a good reminder to me that I am still at that top level of surfing in New Zealand and can put it up against all the other big names we have in the country at such a prestigious event like the Nats.

Daniel Farr reacts to a potential buzzer beater by Dune Kennings in the final. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: You were in a tie breaker with Dune – how intense was that last wave where he smashed the guts out of it?

Daniel Farr: Intense is definitely the best way to describe that final! My nerves heightened a lot after hearing me and Dune were in a tie break. I was on the hunt to better my 7.5 in the back end of the heat and unfortunately couldn’t find the wave to do that.

In the last minute, with Dune in priority, all I could do was hope a set didn’t come through … and then 30sec to go I’m paddling next to Dune and here comes what looked like an absolute bomb. I just had to sit there and watch him take off on it knowing it could be the score.

I watched the spray flying off the back of the wave and I just started clapping for him to show my support, because he is an amazing surfer and it made the final that much more exciting.

I wasn’t sure how the judges were scoring his wave so I was just sitting there praying it would go my way … and it did.

Piha surfer Dune Kennings working hard in the final 30 seconds hoping to rewrite the final narrative. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: Throughout the event you kept your head down and quietly got the job done. You had some great heats with Billy early on. Did you think you could win it before you arrived?

Daniel Farr: It’s hard to explain my thoughts before getting to Dunners and the days leading up to finals day. But one thing is for sure; I didn’t let any nerves or pressure get to me. I came ready to compete and to get the ball rolling.

After that first heat with Billy, and both of us putting up big numbers, I knew I just had to keep doing that and stay consistent the rest of the day. To beat him in the quarters was definitely a confidence boost. It fueled the fire for me to think, “alright, I can do this”.

NZSJ: What was your preparation like in the lead up to the Nats?

Daniel Farr: The preparation never stops – it’s all year round. I try to develop a good week-to-week routine of gym and surfing. Before the Nats It was just a lot of work at Backdoor in New Plymouth to be honest though. Christmas and New Years was really busy for us, so I had to be in store with my work mates doing the mahi. I did take a few days off before coming down to Nats and just surfed with my mates as they just got home from New Years travels. That was great to just hang out with them and get in the water a bit more than I did in December.

Other than that it was just my usual prep before an event; getting the mind and body right, making sure I was in a good place mentally to put the rash shirt on again.

Daniel Farr claims his second Open men’s title at Dunedin’s 2024 Nats. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: How important is it to have an air game in surfing these days? How did you become so consistent?

Daniel Farr: I think winning my first title with two airs down in Westport in 2022 can speak for how important it is to have a good air game.

They are a higher risk manoeuvre that usually always get rewarded with good scores and can turn heats around pretty quick when needed.

Personally it’s just been a lot of practice – going for airs on all types of waves and getting the feeling for the rotation and landings. It’s about building that muscle memory and fast reflexes to land on all types of waves.
It took a lot of repetition until achieving consistency with them.

Daniel is humble in victory dedicating the win to his Mum, Dad and late gran. How’s that lineup for four of New Zealand’s Best? From left: Caleb Cutmore, Billy Stairmand, Dune Kennings and Daniel Farr. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: You welled up on the podium having your mother to witness this win here as well as your dad and you dedicated the win to your gran?

Daniel Farr: To have both my parents there to share in this title was the best feeling in the world. They’re my biggest supporters and they mean everything to me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them and I can’t thank them enough for all the hard work, dedication and kindness they’ve shown me since I was a grom.

After winning my first title and getting to share that Nats with my Dad, Mum wanted to be there for the next one and asked me to win it for her and my gran who passed a few years ago. So to be able to win again for my Mum and to know how proud my gran would have been, makes me extremely happy. I still get emotional thinking about it. We’re still blessed to have my grandpa with us, too. My Mum was on FaceTime with him when I walked up the beach after the finals, so that was so cool to have him be a part of experience also.

Team Taranaki celebrate the win. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: Billy Stairmand and Caleb Cutmore are no slouches, were you surprised to find the final tussle revolve around you and Dune?

Daniel Farr: Thinking back on it now, yeah it is a bit surprising that it was just Dune and myself battling it out. It’s honestly scary any time I have a heat with Caleb, Billy or Dune, let alone all three of them in a final. They’re all surfers I have massive respect for and we all have the ability to win events. But I guess that shows what competitive surfing is like, some heats we can just be out of rhythm and other heats any of us can be unstoppable.

This time around it was quite a relief to be in the position where myself and Dune were getting the best waves and dropping big scores and not having to worry much about Caleb and Billy catching up, even though we all know they are more than capable of being one or two waves away from coming back and taking it out.

Daniel Farr enjoys the taste of success with Team Taranaki. Photo: Derek Morrison

NZSJ: What’s next for two-time national champion Daniel Farr?

Daniel Farr: My plan for the rest of this year is to relocate to the Gold Coast in Australia. This has been a long time coming, with some friends and myself talking about it for quite a while now. We’re all keen to go start a new chapter over there and leave home for new opportunities and experiences.

I think there’s a lot more opportunity to grow my career over there, and I’m looking forward to challenging myself in a new environment. I’m definitely not done with the QS and other international events, but for now I’ll be focusing my finances and energy into getting over the ditch and establishing myself there.

NZSJ: We look forward to seeing you flying over there, Daniel.

Daniel Farr: Thanks, and thanks also for all the support over the years.

“To be able to win again for my Mum and to know how proud my gran would have been, makes me extremely happy. I still get emotional thinking about it.”

2024 Men’s National Champion, Daniel Farr
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