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Tough conditions greeted Northland Secondary School surfers at Sandy Bay for the first event of the 2018 Series.Over 60 students from schools across Northland competed in the one day event held in messy 0.5-1.0m swell. Winds were strong onshore for much of the day, making for challenging conditions in the heats.

There were a number of stand-out performances across all of the age groups. In the Under 14 Boys Bream Bay College Year 8 surfer Noah Porter (Wild Card) surfed extremely well against his older counter parts. In the finals it was a very close battle between Sandy Bay surfers Tai Erceg-Gray (WBHS) and Tama Kauwhata (CORRES) for 1st, with Ercerg-Gray taking the win in his first Northland Scholastics Event.

The largest field of the day was the Under 16 Boys, and after multiple rounds of heats, the final four surfers were found. The higher tide conditions provided slightly improved waves in the afternoon, and Waipu surfer Jake Buckle (Huanui College) continued his powerful performance placing a respectable 2nd ahead of Cory Vercoe (Rodney College).  Winner Thomas Robinson (WBHS) was the dominant surfer all day, linking big carves with vertical turns to win the division convincingly.

Tom Norton was the surfer to beat in the Under 18 Boys, and all day was putting on an impressive display of airs and powerful carves. Norton and Max Brunker (WBHS) had a good battle in the final, with Brunker show casing some vertical re-entries and carves to take out second. Norton was unstoppable and claimed victory after landing a fins free air reverse on his forehand.

In the Girls Divisions, Ely Backhouse (Bream Bay College) surfed a “buzzer beater” wave in the final seconds of the Under 16 Girls to beat Kayla Carter (Bream Bay) for the win. Grace Pevats (WGHS) continued to be the dominant force in the Under 18 Girls showcasing excellent wave selection in the challenging conditions. In the Under 14 Girls Sky Gundry (KKHS) also showed good wave selection picking off some excellent rides to win her maiden contest in the NSSS.

Official results – NSSS1 @ Sandy Bay – 1st March 2018:
U14 Boys
Tai Erceg-Gray WBHS
Tama Kauwhata CORRES
Izaak Hayes WBHS
Ben Moretti CORRES

U16 Boys;
Tom Robinson WBHS
Jacob Buckle HUANUI
Oscar Harper WBHS
Corey Vercoe RODNEY

U18 Boys;
Tom Norton BREAM BAY
Max Brunker WBHS
Joseph Critchfield RODNEY
Tom Parker HUANUI

U14 Girls;
Arlia Gray WGHS
Trinity Smith RODNEY
Pipi Johnson-Phillips KERIKERI

U16 Girls;
Ely Backhouse BREAM BAY
Kayla Carter BREAM BAY
Kaiya Butel KAMO

U18 Girls;
Grace Pevats WGHS
Nicole Robinson WGHS
Natalie Newbold WGHS.

Huge thanks to the North Coast Boardriders and Sandy Bay surfing community for hosting us at the event. And a massive thanks to all the schools and parents who came along in support.

The next NSSS event is scheduled for the 5th April – Venue TBC.  For more information please email

Words and image by Tony Baker.

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