Surfing: Mount scores surfing finale

The 2013 Hyundai Tour has been confirmed with another five-event whistle-stop run around the country this summer, ending at Mount Maunganui's Main Beach.

The tour will crown New Zealand's best longboard and stand-up paddleboard surfers.

The tour kicks off in early January with a return to the famed waves of Manu Bay, Raglan, for the second year running before heading to the Hyundai National Championships at Piha.

The idyllic Sandy Bay is the venue of the third event, which returns as a solely domestic competition next year.

The tour then takes on a new venue at Fitzroy Beach, New Plymouth, for the penultimate event of the season, the final event moving from the home of the finale at Port Waikato to the east coast.

The tour will be wide open with the early absence of defending open men's champion Thomas Kibblewhite (Auckland) for the first two events.

Kibblewhite has dominated the division over the past two years, winning this year and placing second as the highest-ranked Kiwi surfer last year.

Last year's runner-up, Zen Wallis, finished this year on a high, winning the final event, and will be one of several surfers who will fancy their chances of a tour title. That list also includes the likes of Dylan Barnfield and Ant McColl of Taranaki and Matt Cockayne of Auckland.

New Zealand's top internationally ranked female longboarder, Wini Paul (Sandy Bay), has been based in Australia for the past few years. She recently returned to New Zealand and will contest the tour next year to defend her event title at Sandy Bay. Paul is hoping to push 2012 champion and good friend Mischa Davis for the overall title.

The addition of an event at Fitzroy Beach in New Plymouth will add a new dimension to the tour. There is a strong longboard community in the region, particularly among the older generation who will be keen to give the tour a crack in home waters.

Taranaki is the new base for two top tour campaigners who've recently made the move west for work. The champion for 2010, Dylan Barnfield (originally from Ohope), and this year's winner of the Mount Maunganui leg, Ant McColl (formerly of Mount Maunganui), will use their new-found knowledge of the Fitzroy Beach line-up to their advantage.

"I am amped, so excited to get back competing this summer" said McColl. "The first longboard comp I ever went to was in New Plymouth."

McColl is also looking forward to finishing the tour where he grew up at Mount Maunganui. "I won't miss Port, when it's on, it's good, but we've had three rough years in a row there so it will be good to mix it up."

New additions to the 2013 Hyundai Tour will include a "logger" expression session at each event for the traditionalists of longboarding. A long-distance stand-up paddleboard race is also proposed at each event of the tour, the race expected to unearth some world-lass athletes.

The 2013 open men's division winner will receive a return airfare to Australia and entry into one of the Association of Surfing Professionals Longboard Qualifying Series events.

The prize was claimed by Kibblewhite this year.

Hyundai has also teamed up with Global Surf Industries and Starboard to provide boards to raffle off at each event location.

Seven divisions will be contested on the tour - open men, women, junior men (under 18), over 40, over 50, stand-up paddleboarding and the SUP race. The Logger Expression Session and long-distance SUP race will also be put in the mix. Overall the Hyundai Tour will boast $12,000 in prize money.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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