Ben Mackinnon: hmmm... tasty!

The SNZ Bodyboarding Nationals were run over Easter weekend on the 3rd April at Pines beach in Wainui, Gisbourne.

The forecast looked good for the first day of competition and in the morning of the first day of competition it didn't disappoint with clean, 2-3ft hollow peaks greeting competitors. This Nationals broke the mould with a solid turnout and the arrival of some great bodyboarders from the past.

The early rounds saw some great surfing. Standouts were Christchurch's Aaron lock showing he still has it with fast reverses and big flowing rolls off heavy closeouts. Young Willy Nepia-Murray from Port Waikato, all of 14 years old was surfing well above his age with smooth carving reverses, quick loopy rolls off the bowl and ARS attempts. Hot on his heels was another up and coming young rider, Mount Maunganui's Ezekial Ngakuru, managing to snag a few inverts off the tough to hit inside shore break. Sam Peters showed he was in prime contention for the Dropknee title with strong hacks on his forehand. Local boy Reuben Quirk showed true local knowledge, surfing smoothly and flawlessly through his prone and DK heats. Dunedin's Ben Mackinnon made great use of the weaker conditions and was able to find a few big full body inverts combined with fast spins and rolls.

As the day progressed the offshore stayed up allowing the contest to run through to completion by 5pm. The dropping tide offered more hollow sections, but was a double edged sword as there were now a lot of close outs as well. The progressing riders had their work cut out for them.

The first final of the day was the Under 21's. Mitchell Tombleson from Mount Maunganui headlined the final, with Port Waikato's Willy Nepia-Murray, Mount Maunganui's Luke Elliot and fellow Mount Maunganui rider Campbell Carter. This final turned out to be a very tight affair with only .5 separating 1st to 3rd place. Campbell struggled to find the peeling waves and had to settle for 4th. The first three traded spins and rolls, but it was Mitchells rolls off slightly larger sections which saw him take the title, with Willy in 2nd and Luke in 3rd.

Next up was the Open Women's with Mihi Nemani from Auckland, Serena Ball also from Auckland and Melanie Mekewee of Wellington. The Women fought hard in some tough to judge conditions, but it was Mihi catching the bigger and stronger waves, going for big rolls off the inside shore break that added to her already large number of National Titles and took first place. Close behind was Serena who didn't quite find the size of waves and Melanie in 3rd.

The Under 18's final was a hotly contested affair between port Waikato's Willy Nepia-Murray and Mount Maunganui's Ezekial Ngakuru. Nepia-Murray managed to find a few great waves linking spins and rolls but was unable to hold off Ngakuru who found the slightly larger waves with rolls off heavier sections on the inside shore break.

The Amateur final was next up with Chiles Sebastian Lopez, Hamilton's Alan Downing, Mount Maunagnui's Campbell Carter and Storm Morgan. Sebastian made great use of some hard conditions spinning repetitively on the outside and rolling off the inside. Morgan had great wave selection and strong cutbacks despite lacking the quantity of moves done by Lopez and took second. While Carter and Downing struggled to find the open face waves taking 3rd and 4th respectively.

The Senior Men's finals hit the water with Hamilton's Graeme Reid, Aaron Lock, another Hamiltonian Alan Downing and Chiles Sebastian Lopez. Lock surfed well, linking together fast spins and rolls but lacked the larger waves on his score card. Reid fought back with larger waves and bigger rolls to take his first senior men's National Title, with Lock in 2nd, Downing in 3rd and Lopez in 4th.

The Drop knee final was to go down in some of the most testing conditions of the day with Wellington's Sam Peters, Gisbourne local Reuben Quirk, Mount Maunagnui's Luke Elliott and Northland's Blair Dowman. Being between tides the waves were closing out fast on the inside and were virtually impossible to work through from out the back to the inside closeout. Quirk managed a strong hacking reverse and a big floater attempt which failed him on the landing sealing his 1s t place. Elliot found a few longer rides with a small turn here and there thrown in for good measure to secure 2nd place. Peters struggled to find anything offering more than a straight closeout or a barrel leading to a closeout as did Dowman putting them both into 3rd and 4th place.

The Open Men's final was the last to hit the water in what seemed to be improving conditions with Sam Peters, Reuben Quirk, Luke Elliot and Ben Mackinnon of Dunedin. There was the potential of the great surfing. Mackinnon and Peters made a decision to paddle out to a far, wide, left hand peak, while Quirk and Elliot stuck with the main peak out the front of the judging tent which most riders had been utilizing for the day. Peters and Mackinnon started the heat quickly with long rides combining spins, rolls and inverts off the inside reform closeout with Mackinnon busting out an 'old school' takeoff roll in the first 10 minutes. Quirk fought back with a nice barrel while Elliot struggled to find the longer rides he needed. In the final minutes Quirk made a hard paddle over to the left peak and was rewarded with a nice roll out the back and some sooth spins, but Mackinnon had found the slightly bigger sections offering inverts as well a small cover ups to take first. Peters was hot on MacKinnon's heals by only one point to take second and with a full body invert after the hooter the roles could have easily have been reversed. Quirk took third with Elliot having a bit of a hard time and only really finding one or two semi ride able waves.

The prize giving was held at a great venue in a house by the contest area in conjunction with the Bodyboarding New Zealand AGM. BBQ dinner and good times commenced especially among the Mount boys who know how to party (Due to the consistent Mount Maunganui swells) So ended another well contested Nationals and a great AGM. Thanks to all those that made the long journey up (or down). You guys make all the difference.

Amateur Men:
1/ Sebastian Lopez
2/ Storm Morgan
3/ Campbell Carter
4/ Allan Downing

Open Women's
1/ Mihi Nemani
2/ Serena Ball
3/ Melanie McElwee

Under 16's
1/ Ezekial Ngakuru
2/ Willy Nepia-Murray

Under 21 Men's
1/ Mitchell Tombleson
2/ Willy Nepia-Murray
3/ Luke Elliot
4/ Campbell Carter

Dropknee
1/ Reuben Quirk
2/ Luke Elliot
3/ Sam Peters
4/ Blair Dowman

Senior Men's
1/ Graeme Reid
2/Aaron Lock
3/ Allan Downing
4/ Sebastian Lopez

Open Men's
1/ Ben Mackinnon
2/ Sam Peters
3/ Reuben Quirk
4/ Luke Elliot


SOURCE: Isolated