Northland surfers came away smiling after multiple podium finishes at the New Zealand surfing nationals this week at Oakura in Taranaki.
Lee Orton and Heather Easterbrooke, both of Ocean Beach, won the women's over-50 division and women's over-35 division respectively. Easterbrooke also finished a close second in the women's over-30 division after being beaten by Taranaki local Thandi Durham in the last moments of the final.
Young Northland surfer Tai Erceg-Grey impressed in the under-13 division, finishing third. Northland surfing stalwart Rupert Newbold took third in the men's over-60 division and a seventh in the longboard competition.
A total of 12 Northlanders competed in the event with two yet to finish. Tom Robinson will compete in the under-16 and under-18 final today as well as Laura Griffin in the women's open division who was through to the semifinals.
"Having the Northland crew there has been one of the highlights," Easterbrooke said
"Just having the support crew on the beach, everyone gives a high-five on the way in and out and it's neat, just knowing they're there."
Easterbrooke said she was pleased with her win in what was big, strong surf.
"I was pleased with how many waves I caught in those conditions, which required quite a bit of fitness."
Easterbrooke said she had not decided to go to the tournament until four days before it started and had done little preparation in the lead-up.
"I had quite a few surfs in that week before and I was pretty happy with how I'd been going and I thought, 'why not, I'll come and give it a shot.'
"It made me think if I do a bit more preparation and put in some more effort, who knows where results will go."
With only five in her category, Easterbrooke said she was disappointed there weren't more competitors, but she understood that it was difficult for some women to train alongside family and work life.
Orton, who had only two other women in her category, said she was a bit disappointed with the low turnout but said it was important to include the division.
"Hopefully because they have these categories, they will encourage more women to enter but we'll see what happens."
She said the open division surfing had been inspiring for the younger surfers to see and hoped it would spur them on to follow surfing as they got older.
Laura Griffin: Into the women's open division final
Tom Robinson: Into the final of U16 and U18 boys divisions
Heather Easterbrook: First in over-35 and second in over-30 divisions
Lee Orton: First in women's over-50 division
Tai Erceg Gray: Third in U14 boys division
Rupert Newbold: Third in men's over-60 and seventh in longboard
Paul Moretti: 13th in open men's division.
Jacob Buckle: 13th U18 boys division
Jamie Scott: Fourth in stand-up paddleboard
Billie Scott: 13th in women's open division
Journey Lum: 13th in U14 boys division
Te Kauwhata Kauwhata: 13th in U16 boys division