The annual New Zealand Schools Surfing Competition held at Manu bay was, as is now the norm, run by students from Raglan Area School.
These students — members of the Raglan Area School Surf Academy — organise the surfing competition in between their normal lessons. The NZ Schools competition is completely run by youth, with the students participating in everything from judging to commentating.
This year, nearly 200 competitors from 40 different NZ schools competed in the event. The leaders for this year’s event are Caleb Cutmore, under 18 boys national title holder, and Kai Woolf, co-organiser of the School Strike for Climate march in Raglan.
Last year’s competition was one to remember. It was a bright, sunny day; a perfect day for the beach. Tents were dotted along the grass, and surfers could be seen fiercely competing down below. Student commentators sat in the shade to hide from the boiling sun, sporting sunglasses and eating snacks.
The competition went along reasonably smoothly, and everyone was having a good time. Numbers were organised and tallied, and as the competition faded to an end, the prizes were handed out and the winners were celebrated, and RAS was presented with the trophy.
The team of organisers were expecting bad weather this year, and their hopes were low. But surprisingly, the weather turned out to be quite similar to last year; warm and bright. The requirement was to wake up at 4:30am to prepare nearly every morning of the event, and be ready to begin by 7:00am.
“One of the challenges was that the surf was really big on the first day, so we had to run down the inside of Manu Bay on the reformed waves,” said priority judge Taylor O’Leary.
This caused tension amongst the U16-U18 boys, as some of them really wanted to surf the larger waves at the back. But who are the Surf Academy members? Unsurprisingly, these teens have participated and won multiple surfing events.
Members Jack Lee and Brie Bennet competed in the Rip Curl World GromSearch Final in Costa Rica earlier this year.
Of the 12 members of the New Zealand team representing our country at the 2019 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship — coming up in October in Huntington Beach California — five are from the Surf Academy: Jayden Willoughby, Tom Robinson, Brie Bennett, Caleb Cutmore, and Jack Lee (Kora Cooper and Taylor O’Leary are reserves).So – it is no wonder that a group as talented as this is able to run one of the biggest surf events in the country. This group of youth has done an amazing job, and we can expect this event to continue successfully for years to come.