Whangamata school surfers to launch Saltwater Classic
An innovative take on competitive surfing — where no one gets knocked out of their heats and everyone surfs as much as possible — is the format for Whangamata Surf Academy youngsters’ first Whangamata Saltwater Classic. Young surfers are arriving to compete from around the North Island from today and tomorrow. Surf Academy teacher Dylan Care says with help from Ben Kennings from Surfing New Zealand, the youngsters from Whangamata Area School’s surfing academy spent several months working on the event and have come up with a unique format. “They were pretty excited to come up with the concept. It’s different to most surf comps because the kids have identified what they do and don’t like, you don’t win through your heat, everybody surfs the same amount of heats and all your heat totals get added up. At the end of four rounds the people with the highest scores go through to the finals. “One thing they noticed was so many kids travel so far and get knocked out in the first round, so they wanted to give equal surfing time to everybody.” Saltwater Surf Shop in Whangamata is the major sponsor and hase given generous donations of gear. Whangamata Surf Life Saving Club has donated free hire of the venue and the organisers say everyone is welcome to come and watch the action. The youngsters have even created their own event website, whangamatasaltwater classic.com. They will receive NCA credits towards an event management course for their work on the competition. Ben Kennings introduced the academy class to necessities like event permits, health and safety, how to speak to sponsors and media and working out heat times. He said while the event format wouldn’t work in the timeframes that SNZ has to work within, the concept was “awesome”. “With this format half the kids are going to get an hour of surf time, which is quadruple the usual time and experience of surfing in a heat.” The Surfing New Zealand Primary School Championships have a second repocharge, giving everyone the chance to surf twice, but points were still accumulated to each surfer that put competitors through to the following heat. “With ours, it doesn’t matter. Everyone surfs the same,” said Dylan. None of the heat draws are pre-made and there’ll be a surprise at registration as to how the heat draws are set for the Saltwater Classic. Dylan says despite it being the academy’s first competition, surfers are entering from Auckland, Whakatane, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty. Expect some amazing surf action with the large swells hitting the Coromandel coastline. “The surf is going to be pretty big on Thursday so we’re likely to just send the older students out, but Friday is looking pretty good so we’ll run a lot of heats that day.” Watch the action from the Whangamata Surf Lifesaving Club from 8am today and tomorrow.