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Westport To Host Nationals 2022

The 59th edition of the New Zealand National Surfing Championships will be staged in Westport in early 2022, the second time the event has been held on the West Coast of the South Island.

Westport is home to one of New Zealand’s most explosive surfers ever: Jai Earnshaw. Photo: Derek Morrison

The National Championships brings together the best surfers in New Zealand and with the World Surf League Regional Qualifying Series events kicking off in February, the very best Kiwi talent will be available to attend the event.

Taking place from January 10-16, the six-day event brings together the surfing community from all over the country to enjoy a fun week.

The lineup at Tauranga Bay is among the finest in the country. Photo: Derek Morrison

“The Nationals is the type of event where we wouldn’t be surprised if a number of participants from 1997 make their way back to Westport with fond memories and take part, most likely in the senior divisions now,” commented Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings.

“Not only will they compete, but they will bring their family and children who will carry on the summer tradition,” he added.

When the event was last held at Westport in 1997, the event was won by Auckland’s Andrew Robinson and Taranaki’s Heather Dent.

Jai Earnshaw at his local break, where he has been sharing his wisdom with young surfers and boosting the surf community. Photo: Derek Morrison

But it was a very young local surfer, Jai Earnshaw who stormed to victory in the Under 18 Boys Division and stole the show. Earnshaw went on to be one of New Zealand’s most explosive surfers. He recently returned from Australia and now resides back at Westport, scoring an abundance of pumping waves up and down the coast. Earnshaw will be one of the local hopefuls in the event come January.

Fast forward to 2021 and Billy Stairmand won his eighth national title alongside Gisborne’s Saffi Vette who won her first in the Open Women’s Division. Both surfers will be out to defend their titles, Stairmand likely only being home for weeks after a four-month stint on the WSL Challenger Series through USA, France, Portugal, and Hawaii.

Westport has a thriving surfing community, which is underpinned by the local club Buller Boardriders, who are all eager to bring the event to town.

“It’s been 25 years since the Nationals were last held at Westport and we look forward to welcoming everybody back,” said Steve Lee, President of Buller Boardriders.

“Everybody is excited to host the event and have the best surfing in the country take place on our waves. The event window in early January often provides great conditions and we have plenty of waves for everyone to explore both for the event and whilst free surfing,” added Lee.

“It’s been 25 years since the Nationals were last held at Westport and we look forward to welcoming everybody back.”

Steve Lee
In between heats: some groms entertain themselves on the rocks at Tauranga Bay during a SISA Grom Series event. Photo: Derek Morrison

South Island Surfing Association President, Tania Huria highlighted the opportunity to host the event in the South Island again.

“We are always excited to have the event down here and we want to get behind Buller Boardriders as much as possible, it is great for the community,” she said.

“Westport is a great part of Aotearoa and it will be fantastic to show off this part of the country and bring the surfing community into the region after some particularly tough times with recent flooding and the lack of international tourists with the border closed. West Coast hospitality truly rules,” she added.

Myka Black, of Christchurch, is a regular at Westport and will be looking to stamp his authority at T Bay in January 2022. Photo: Derek Morrison

Gisborne Boardriders will defend the club title which will be hotly contested by several leading clubs from Raglan, Auckland, Mount Maunganui, Christchurch, Dunedin and the hometown Buller Boardriders. Also up for grabs at the Championships is the Peter Byers Overall Performance of the Event Award.

It is expected that in excess of 250 entries will be received for the event. A total of 29 divisions will be contested including the premier Open Men and Women, plus additional divisions comprising of age groups from Under 14 boys and girls through to Over 60s for males and females and Longboard, Stand Up Paddleboard, Bodyboard and Kneeboard disciplines.

The West Coast of New Zealand is a special destination. Photo: Derek Morrison
Day 1 – Open men and women, junior boys and girls divisions
Day 2 – Addition of all senior divisions
Day 3 – Addition of longboard, SUP and Bodyboard
Day 4 – All divisions
Day 5 – All divisions plus Kneeboard
Day 6 – All divisions
*Finals for some divisions will be contested prior to Day 6.

Open Men
2017 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2018 – Ricardo Christie (Gis)
2019 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2020 – Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha)
2021 – Billy Stairmand (Rag) 8th National Title
Open Women
2017 – Ella Williams (WGM)
2018 – Raiha Ensor (Mnt)
2019 – Aimee Brown (G Barrier)
2020 – Ava Henderson (Chch)
2021 – Saffi Vette (Gis)
Under 18 Boys Division
2017 – Jonas Tawharu (Mnt)
2018 – Conor McLennan (Chch)
2019 – Caleb Cutmore (Rag)
2020 – Jack Lee (Whakatane)
2021 – Finn Vette (Gis)
Under 18 Girls Division
2017 – Saffi Vette (Gis)
2018 – Elin Tawharu (Mnt)
2019 – Saffi Vette (Gis)
2020 – Ava Henderson (Chch)
2021 – Ava Henderson (Chch)
2017 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
2018 – Zen Wallis (Piha)
2019 – Jamie Andrews (Tara)
2020 – Ambrose McNeill (Chch)
2021 – Daniel Procter (Gis)
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