Mount Maunganui surfer Josh Taylor made a triumphant start to the new year by winning the Junior Division at the first event of the 2013 Hyundai Tour at Manu Bay, Raglan, at the weekend.
The final day of action was played out in small 0.5m conditions that remained contestable all day.
Taylor out-surfed his Mount Maunganui companion Jordan Griffin in the final to claim a well-received win. He was part of a large Mount contingent at the event that claimed seven finals berths.
The Junior Division was a battle of three predominantly shortboard surfers versus 2012 Tour Champion Sam Poulter and it was Taylor who took the honours with some exemplary footwork to score 15.67 out of a possible 20 points.
Taylor and runner-up Jordan Griffin are both part of the New Zealand Junior Development Squad for shortboarding but make the transition to the longer board with ease.
Defending Tour champion Sam Poulter (Raglan) placed third after incurring interference and Caleb Braithwaite (Whakatane) finished in fourth place.
Craig Anderson (Mount Maunganui) claimed the Over 40 Longboard Division with ease.
Anderson looked strong all weekend and his traditional approach to Manu Bay paid off with some long nose rides mixed in with brutal forehand cutbacks.
Anderson finished with an 11.17-point heat total ahead of fellow Mount Maunganui surfer Guy Rencher, who scored 8.63. Newcomer to the Over 40 division was third-placed Justin Bambery (Auckland), who finished ahead of Andy Collins (Mount Maunganui) in fourth place.
Gisborne surfer Daniel Procter stormed back to the top of New Zealand's longboarding ranks after claiming victory.
Procter went into the final day of the event as the sole forehand surfer of the eight remaining contestants in the Men's division. The small conditions were in his favour, with his smart nose-riding ability the order of the final.
Proctor finished with a 17.33-point heat total. After taking the lead with five minutes remaining in the final, he went on to ride a 9.33-point buzzer-beating ride to extend his lead on a victory lap wave.
"Dylan got the first wave in the final and it was a good one, so I knew I had to wait and grab a bigger set wave and I was lucky a few came through to get me into the lead. Then I blocked him on that last wave and got the 9.33. That is just how it goes sometimes," said Procter.
Procter started the final behind Ohope surfer Dylan Barnfield, but Barnfield ultimately finished runner-up behind Procter, who was more in sync with the best waves in the latter half of the final.
Gisborne surfer Sam Johnson finished in third place ahead of Owen Barnes (Mount Maunganui) in fourth.
Procter's win gives him the early advantage on the Hyundai Tour ratings.
He will now head into the Hyundai National Championships, starting in seven days, where he will look to make it back-to-back wins.
"If I keep winning then I will keep going to the tour events, and this win has given me the ticket to get to the nats [nationals], so we will see how they go in a week's time," said Procter.
He has yet to claim a title in eight years of the Hyundai Tour, his best result being a runner-up placing in 2009, the same year he also claimed his only National Championship.
The light footwork of Mischa Davis (Piha) saw her become the third surfer of the event to defend their title. Davis loved the small lefthanders as the tide crept in, staying tight in the wave pocket and walking to the nose on multiple occasions.
Davis finished with a 12.53-point heat total in a close battle with runner-up Belinda Goodwin (Raglan), who scored 11.13 points.
Goodwin, also on her forehand, used a similar approach to Davis but could not find the right waves to make a full charge for the win.
Michael Thomson (Raglan) defended his title in the Over-50 Longboard competition, defeating David Storck in a close final. Storck fought hard to topple Thomson but fell short, scoring 7.23 to Thomson's 9.03.
Mark Hoyle (Orewa) placed third in the final ahead of Rupert Newbold (Ocean Beach) in fourth.
Daniel Kereopa (Raglan) was another local surfer to defend his title in the Stand Up Paddleboard division. He was too sharp for his opponents in the small conditions, racking up turn after turn on the best waves of the final. In challenging conditions he managed to score 14.67 out of 20 to beat Shayne Baxter (Christchurch), who was runner-up. The second local of the final, Armie Armstrong, placed third ahead of Karl Arsene (WGM).
The introduction of the Logger Expression Session took place just before the finals, with 12 surfers taking to the water. Over 30 minutes, surfers were judged on their entire finals performance and it was Ambrose McNeill (Christchurch) who won out, with Daryn McBride (Mount Maunganui) runner-up.
The remaining events for the 2013 Hyundai Tour: Hyundai Tour Event 2, January 13-19, Piha (5-star) - National Championships; Hyundai Tour Event 3, February 1-3, Sandy Bay (4-star); Hyundai Tour Event 4, February 16-17, Fitzroy Beach, New Plymouth (4-star); Hyundai Tour Event 5, March 1-2, Mount Maunganui (4-star).