The Whangamata Surf Academy held its inaugural Whangamata Saltwater Classic last week in challenging 2m swell conditions.
Competitors came from far and wide to push themselves in the large stormy waves on offer.
The Surf Academy's unique format that allowed all competitors to surf in three non-knockout rounds before finalists were decided proved a success.
Competitors were able to redeem themselves and improve on their positions even after having tough heats.
Standout surfer Tai Murphy (Whakatāne) shredded his way through the rounds and went on to win the under-16 boys' final as well as taking out the Super final with powerful and committed surfing.
Lola Groube (Pauanui) won the under-14 girls' division, showing great athleticism and determination; Tyler Stenzel (Pāpāmoa) finished on top in the under-14 boys' final, and Leia Miller (Piha) claimed victory in the under-16 girls' division after a close battle between herself, Pia Rogers (Whangamata) and Chloe Groube (Pauanui).
A special thank you goes to Pete and Fleur Mitchell from Saltwater Surf Shop, who were the main sponsors of the event and have been longstanding supporters of the surfing community in Whangamata. Additional sponsors were My Hoody, Neon Surf, Sticky Johnson, Daiken, and Billabong.
Whangamata team captain Hunter Cooney was instrumental in leading the event and in commentary.
Other honourable efforts by students in the Surf Academy were Otis Baxter doing behind-the-scenes work tabulating all the heat scores; and Mali Millen and Harley Waller handing out the contest rash vests.
Judges for the finals were Taylor Mainwaring, Harrison Biddle, Ash Rogers and Eden Mainwaring. This couldn't be achieved without the guidance of the team coaches Dylan Care and Rangi Ormond.
Under 14 Girls
1st - Lola Groube, 2nd - Megan Luke, 3rd - India Kennings, 4th - Ruby Milne, 5th - Ella-Rose Luke
Under 14 Boys
1st - Tyler Stenzel, 2nd - Theo Morse, 3rd - Sev Tolhurst, 4th - Sam Frazerhurst
Under 16 Girls
1st - Leia Miller, 2nd - Chloe Groube, 3rd - Pia Rogers
Under 16 Boys
1st - Tai Murphy, 2nd - Tava Santorik, 3rd - Beau Woods, 4th Noah Camburn
1st - Tai Murphy, 2nd - Tyler Stenzel, 3rd - Leia Miller, 4th - Jac Forsyth, 5th - Lola Groube