14-Apr-2011 04:37 p.m.

Auckland Champions crowned


Starboard Summer Series 2011 : Hyundai Auckland City Series

Takapuna, 12 February 2011 | Kohimarama, 26 February 2011 | Kohimarama, 19 March
2011

The first Auckland Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Champions were crowned last month in New Zealand’s inaugural dedicated SUP race event, the 2011 Hyundai Auckland City Series.  Nearly 100 Competitors battled wind, tide and boat wakes around a 10km course in the three-race series held on the sparkling Waitemata from Takapuna and Kohimarama Beaches.  

Starboard International Teamrider and SUPSNZ Director Jeremy Stephenson took home the Open Mens 12’6” Stock Class title, with International Olympic Athlete JP Tobin hot on his tail in second.  Third place went to Auckland paddler Gavin Houghton.  

Stephenson (42) found it great putting to the test waterman skills acquired from years of Olympic Tornado racing, International Yacht Racing and surfing.  “SUP is not all about your physical strength, it’s about how you read the ocean and use the currents and other elements to your advantage”, he says.  “Once you learn how to glide on the downwind chop you’re hooked – you just want to keep catching the swell again and again for miles.”

Annabel Anderson, currently in the top five on the International SUP race circuit, including Gold in the UK and Paris, placed first in the Open Womens, and was consistently amongst the top seven overall.  In second place Open Womens was Takapuna’s Katherine Heatley, and third Otago native Kate O’Malley.

"The Summer Series has been amazing and I have been so lucky to have had such great racing in my off season.  The standard & intensity of racing in New Zealand is really high and it's so exciting to see so many people getting involved in the sport." says Anderson.


In the Unlimited Class (Boards over 12’6’’), Aucklander Troy Huston placed first with some impressive times on a Starboard 14’0 Race Board, followed by Takapuna’s Dion McAsey in 2nd, and then top Dutch Windsurfer Dorian van Risselborqhe in third place (despite only paddling in two of the three events).

In the 3km Novice Mens Jason Bird placed 1st, Dave Hale 2nd and Matt Fogarty 3rd.  Novice Womens Winner Stacey Smith placed 2nd overall in the Novice race, with Marlene Jackson 2nd in the Womens class, and Christine Batkin 3rd.  

Auckland's youngest SUPer, Oliver Houghton (11) finished his first 3km race in 55m40s to claim the Junior Auckland Champ title at the final race of the Hyundai Auckland City Series.  A jubilant Oliver claimed his Starboard Enduro paddle prize at the GPK Series Prizegiving after the race, right after watching Dad, Gavin Houghton, take home 3rd in the Open Mens and Mum Rosie place 9th overall in the Novice Womens.

The events were brought about by SUPSNZ.COM, local distributors of leading worldwide SUP brand Starboard, to introduce paddlers to the popular SUP course-racing format taking off internationally, and give them the opportunity to build up their fitness and race skills for the upcoming Inaugural Hyundai NZ SUP Championships in April.

“We were stoked with the turnout for the races, which was better than a lot of overseas events.  New Zealand is the perfect place for SUP – we’re a nation of water fanatics, and we seem to breed champions!  This can be seen already in the quality of our top paddlers, who are easily in the top ten worldwide” says SUPSNZ.COM Marketing Manager Victoria Stuart.

Stand Up Paddle Boarding, propelling oneself through the water on an oversized surfboard with a single-bladed paddle, is an ancient Pacific sport that traces its roots back to the tribal legends of Hawaiian, Tahitian and Maori cultures.  It had a revival in Hawaii in the late 1960s as “Beach Boy Surfing”, and surfaced again in 2004 when top surfers and windsurfers began using it for cross-training when there was no wind or swell.  

“The sport has instant appeal to people from all walks of life because it is so easy to jump on board and do, even with no water experience.  It is the fastest-growing sport on the planet, with SUP sales now outnumbering surfboard, kayak and windsurf sales worldwide.  Now anyone can surf,” says Stuart.

Since the early days of large all-round surf style boards, the sport has quickly evolved into three unique categories; surf, recreational paddling and racing.  Winning race boards feature innovative designs inspired by yachting, outrigger canoeing, olympic rowing and windsurfing to produce sleek, super-light carbon hulls that glide across the water at record speeds.  New Zealand recognises three classes of race boards: 12’6’’ Stock or Open class, Unlimited (all boards over 12’6’’, with or without rudder and multihulls allowed), and Surf Board Class (12’6’’ and Under, with a rounded nose and rocker).   

The 2010/2011 season saw a total of 130 paddlers enter the 3.5km SUP division of the 16-event State Beach Series at Takapuna, which has included a Starboard-sponsored SUP division for two seasons now.  Jeremy Stephenson won the Overall 2011 Winner’s title.  

2011 also saw the first round of SUP Surf Racing (3km) on the 5-stop Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour, with Raglan surfer Arnie Armstrong placing first overall in the 3km “King of the Waves” event in and out through shoulder high surf with a short flagged beach run.  The National SUP Surf Champion, Daniel Kereopa, was also crowned at the finals of the Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour in March.  Both SUP events were also sponsored by Starboard, with winners taking home brand new Starboard SUP Boards valued at $2400.

For more information on Stand Up Paddle Boarding and to arrange your free ride on a board, go to www.supsnz.com


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