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Perfect conditions for paddle boarding and beach volleyball finals

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Over the weekend, the Waterbourne Charitable Trust hosted more than 160 athletes in Mt Maunganui, where perfect conditions allowed the festival to crown multiple national champions for stand up paddle boarding and beach volleyball.

Ranging conditions enabled a range of athletes to flourish where it was clear a new emerging youth are growing through the ranks in New Zealand. The final day of water sports saw both paddle boarding and wingfoiling take place in very challenging 2m swells, creating excitement on the beach.

Newly crowned Overall National Champion Fergus Dunlop (19year old) has said "I am absolutely stoken to win the NZ Overall Mens Championships this year and to share the podium with such talented paddlers"

"The standard of competition was really high again this year and weather conditions were challenging. It was a shame there were some absences on the start line due to COVID-19 and we look forward to seeing them back racing again soon!"

These conditions provided action for everyone on and off the water where Olympic gold medalist and womans 2022 National Champion Jo Aleh said "Todays race was pretty epic, rough conditions and my game plan worked… avoid the big waves, and that was a winner!"

"Love Waterbourne, great to be competing on the Tauranga coast. Looking forward to next year"

Racing was incredibly close on the final day where reigning national champion Ollie Houghton demonstrated his dominance after his win in the distance on Saturday March 5th. As Ollie missed the opening day of racing, it was always going to be hard to win the overall title but he said "a mad sea out there, with a whole ton of amazing competitors with a stacked lineup. There is a bunch of amazing young paddlers coming up through the ranks and you couldnt have asked for better conditions"

Event Director Laurence Carey said "Having a city which can so easily host all components of the EVES NZ SUP Nationals is amazing, we completed the Sprints in Wairoa Reserve and all other components in Mt Maunganui"

"Not only did we see amazing paddle boarding, but having top NZ athletes like Josh Armit and Brianna Orams who used Waterbourne as a cross training event for the 2024 IQ Windfoiling Olympic campaigns shows how important Waterbourne is become for the athletes"

"With more than 80% of athletes from outside the region, it has been a huge success, and a much needed boost to the region"

2019 Youth Paddle Boarding World Champion Brianna Orams said "I haven't been paddling a lot recently as I am focusing on Olympic IQ windfoiling, leaving for Europe in 2 and a bit weeks to compete on the European circuit, really enjoying that and doing things like winging and paddling for cross training"

Windfoiling National Champion Josh Armit said "I am currently training for the Olympic IQ Windfoiling and this is a great cross training event with a great group of people"

Wingfoiling is the worlds fastest growing water sport and will be a fixed feature as part of Waterbourne in the future. With athletes from all across the water sports industry getting involved, it will be great to see more wingfoiling in years to come.

Sunday also saw the finals of the Men and Woman Beach Volleyball National Championships. With two days of incredibly tight competition it was down to the wire for both the men and woman.

Operations Manager of the GJ Gardner Beach Volleyball National Championships Trent Weebly said "The weekend was a huge success given the heightened restrictions from COVID-19. Beach volleyball in NZ is a minority sport, so showcasing the National Championships in collaboration with Waterbourne Beach Festival is match made in heaven. We hope to continue the partnership in the future to grow not only beach volleyball but all beach activities in NZ."

Waterbourne will be back in 2023 where if restrictions are lifted it will include all components including the music concerts with international headliners.

Carey said "this year was only a taste of what Waterbourne will be like in the future. Due to restrictions we had to cancel our concerts with international headliners from the UK, but we cannot wait to bring this to Waterbourne when possible".

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