Chris Malone: a Kiwi surfing star

The one event that unites all New Zealand surfers right from the Under 14 through to the Over 55s and everyone in between is geared up to hit Gisborne during the Easter break. The Hyundai National Surfing Championships will take place from the 1st – 5th of April and will showcase the best surfers in New Zealand.

The Hyundai National Championships is the fourth of five events on the 2009/10 Export Gold Series.

The event, traditionally held during early summer for the past 20 years, was moved to the April dates after New Zealand secured the World Junior Championships held at Piha during January. The change in dates look set to provide the event with some great waves as yet another weather system passes by the East Coast of New Zealand pushing swell into the Gisborne area.

The event looks set to cater for close to 250 entrants spread across 19 divisions showcasing the all encompassing nature that is unique to the ‘Nationals’.

The Open Men’s and Women’s Divisions are what highlights the proud surfing history in New Zealand with the men’s having been contested since 1963 and the women’s since 1964.

Gisborne surfers have dominated the titles of late with nine Open Men’s titles going to Gisborne in the last 14 years. However it was 17-year-old Matt Hewitt (Mnt) that stole the show in 2009 when he defeated a resurgent Daniel Kereopa (Rag), Jay Quinn (Gis) and Gauranga Ormond (WGM).

Unfortunately Hewitt has had to forgo defending his title in 2010 with the Hyundai National Championships clashing with an ASP Australasian Pro Junior event in Australia.

“I would have really like the challenge of defending my title, but my main focus is finishing in the top 5 of the Pro Juniors to qualify for the ASP World Junior Champs” said Hewitt when informing Surfing New Zealand of his predicament.

Had Hewitt competed in and won the event in 2010 he would have been the first surfer to do so in twenty years, the last time being Lynden Kennings in 1991 coincidentally at Gisborne.

Local surfers will be sure to feature highly come the finals day of the event. The Quinn brothers will hope to add to their tally of titles. Maz has four Open Men’s titles – one behind the most successful surfer Iain Buchanan (Piha).

Jay on the other hand only has one to his name in the Open Men’s Division – a victory in 2008 on home soil when the event was last held at Gisborne. However Jay is one of only two surfers who has won titles in each of the age group divisions (Under 14, 16 and 18) as well as the Open Men’s Division, the other being Gisborne surfer Richard Christie.

Other local surfers to look out for will be ex national champion (1998) and current Export Gold Series ratings leader Chris Malone and winner of the most recent event of the series Morehu Roberts. Roberts broke through for his maiden victory at the Rip Curl Pro held at Raglan just over a month ago and his amazing form had his peers talking for weeks.

In the Open Women’s Division, the event has been dominated by the South Island in the past two years with Daisy Thomas (Chch) the defending champion from 2009 and Angie Koops (Kaikoura) the victor in 2008. The two surfers have been confirmed for the event this year and will hope to maintain their strong hold for the South Island.

Out to keep the title north of the Cook Strait will be current Export Gold Series ratings leader Jessica Santorik (Rag). Santorik has been in the best form of her career winning all three events of the series to date. Santorik is also competing in her rookie year on the ASP World Qualifying Series joining the likes of Kiwis Airini Mason and Wini Paul.

Nineteen national titles will go up for grabs at the Hyundai National Championships. As well as the premier Open Men’s and Open Women’s Divisions, there will be a further 17 divisions comprising of age groups from Under 14 through to Over 50s and also Kneeboard and Bodyboard disciplines.

Set out below are the winners of key divisions for the past five years.

Open Men
2005 – Richard Christie (Gis)
2006 – Maz Quinn (Gis)
2007 – Daniel Kereopa (Rag)
2008 – Jay Quinn (Gis)
2009 – Matt Hewitt (Mnt)

Open Women
2005 – Jessica Santorik (Rag)
2006 – Lisa Hurunui (Gis)
2007 – Wini Paul (Sandy Bay)
2008 – Angie Koops (Kaik)
2009 – Daisy Thomas (Chch)

Junior Men (U/18)
2005 – Richard Christie (Gis)
2006 – Kierin Van Der Helder (Rag)
2007 – Paco Divers (Sandy Bay)
2008 – Sean Peggs (Tairua)
2009 – Ryan Hawker (Piha)

It produces a characteristic sound that immediately takes us to tropical environments. The ukulele was born in Hawaii but has its roots in Western Europe.

+ Surfing News