World Junior Surfing champs to ride Piha
05 Aug 2009
Some of the world's best young surfers will be riding the waves at Piha - on Auckland's wild west coast - when New Zealand plays host next January to the World Junior Surfing Champs.
The Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships - for surfers under 18-years-old - will take place from 20 - 28 January, 2010.
Described as the major event in junior surfing, the competition will bring about 250 surfers from 30 countries to New Zealand's most celebrated surfing precinct.
International Surfing Association (ISA) president Fernando Aguerre, who announced New Zealand's selection as host, said New Zealand was "an amazing location with perfect waves, and a great surfing culture."
Aguerre said the championships at Piha would provide a spectacle that was "an Olympic-type event staged with competitors from around the world competing both individually and for their countries in front of large crowds".
It would be the biggest surfing event in Australasia in more than 25 years for the International Surfing Association, he said.
Formerly the International Surfing Federation, the ISA has been running world championships since 1964. The first junior world championships were held in 1980.
Big deal for NZ surfing
New Zealand World Tour surfer Paige Hareb, currently ranked third in the world, said it would be a privilege to have the world champs in New Zealand, and the spectacle would deliver many benefits.
"It's a pretty big deal for the development of surfing here. Hopefully it will be well covered by the media so we get more people around New Zealand interested in our sport and more people wanting to start having a go at it as well," said Hareb.
Earlier this year the New Zealand surfing team came seventh at the World Junior Championship event in Ecuador.
Surfing New Zealand is expecting some intense competition for the 12 places in the 2010 Kiwi team for 2010.
New Zealander Jay Quinn won the forerunner to this event, the World Grommet Championships, in 2001.
Quinn, from Gisborne - New Zealand's east coast surfing mecca - has spent the past eight years travelling and competing around the world.
Most teams attending the 2010 event would get a shock at what New Zealand had to offer, Quinn said.
"I don't think the rest of the world realises what we have in New Zealand. However the thought of somewhere completely different, like New Zealand, is a destination on the mind of everyone. Once they get here they will be blown away."
Surfing New Zealand
Planning is underway, and organisers Surfing New Zealand say they will deliver a memorable event for surfers and spectators alike.
"We are excited to have been given this huge opportunity to showcase our unique culture and our beautiful environment to the world while at the same time giving New Zealanders a taste of the very best the sport of surfing can deliver," said Surfing NZ chief executive Greg Townsend.
Piha - a rugged surf beach on Auckland's sprawling western boundary - is one of the city's natural jewels.
With reputedly some of the hardest waves to be found anywhere in the world, Piha is recognised as the birthplace of surfing in New Zealand.
It was at Piha beach - 50 years ago in 1959 - that two visiting American lifeguards, Rick Stoner and Bing Copeland, took to their boards to become the first to surf New Zealand's waves.
In 2009, surfing is a growing sport and top young New Zealanders, like Paige Hareb, are making their mark internationally.
New Zealand’s most celebrated surfer, Maz Quinn hopes that "having the world champs in the backyard will amp up our junior surfers to do well".
Though Quinn never secured a world junior title, he came close on several occasions, and knows that the hometown advantage is "huge".
"They know the waves well and what Piha's like at that time of the year," said Quinn. "This is the chance, the perfect chance."
Auckland's contrasting worlds
Video: Piha to host Junior Surfing Champs - 3 News
These topics may also be of interest to you