Surfing For Farmers season wraps up with woollen surfboard giveaway

This content was made possible by the sponsorship of Raglan Surf Co

Farmers from across the country will soon be hitting the waves on woollen surfboards as the lucky winners of a new competition run across the 2021/22 Surfing for Farmers’ season.

The surfboards – made from a new wool cloth sourced from New Zealand sheep – were awarded to dairy farmers Jay Crowhurst from Te Uku and Jake Thomson from Waipa at the Raglan event.

The competition was run by Rabobank, one of SFF’s premier sponsors, and the winners were announced at the season’s final SFF events at the 23 locations across the country.

Around 30 farmers from all over Waikato – Hamilton, Waipa, Te Awamutu, Otorohanga, Waitomo, Te Kauwhata, Whatawhata, Pirongia, Te Akau, Taupiri and Glen Murray – took to the surf under the expert guidance of instructors from Raglan Surf School and Green Wave Raglan.

Speaking earlier this week, Rabobank New Zealand Country Banking’s general manager Bruce Weir said every participant at an SFF event over the season has gone into the draw to win one of the surfboards.

Launched in Gisborne in 2018, Surfing for Farmers encourages farmers to take a couple of hours each week to head to the surf to help better manage stress and improve mental health. The initiative has gone from strength to strength over recent years and more than 1000 farmers have attended events across the summer.

Weir says the bank has been involved with the initiative since its inception and Rabobank staff have played key roles in supporting the sessions at locations up and down the country.

“We’re very proud to support the SFF programme and the fantastic work it’s doing to reduce farmers’ stress and improve well-being. The events are free and provide an opportunity for those new to the sport to receive lessons and tips from a qualified instructor. The sessions also provide farmers with a chance to relax, grab a bite to eat and get to know some of the other participants.”

Weir says one of the key drivers behind the launch of the surfboard competition was the opportunity it provided to highlight just one of the amazing products that can be made from New Zealand wool.

“The wool industry in New Zealand has had a tough time over recent years, and as a food and agri banking specialist, we’re committed to playing our part to get it back on its feet.”

The surfboards being given away have been developed by Barron Surfboards in Tauranga and are made from woolight – a new wool cloth which replaces the traditional fibreglass. The woolight product is also now being used in the construction of a whole range of other products including boats, kayaks, swimming pools and spas.

“We’re really proud to be giving away the woollen surfboards as they’re not only a great way to show our support for the wool industry, but they’re also much better for the environment,” Mr Weir said.

In addition, he said, the surfboard giveaway would allow farmers to continue their involvement and progression with the sport.

“Over recent months I’ve headed down to a few of the SFF sessions at Ohope and Raglan and, from the discussions I’ve had with farmers in attendance, it’s pretty clear that a few of them have really got the surfing bug,” he said.

“I’m sure the boards will get plenty of use over the months ahead and that we’ll see the surfboard winners back to take part in the new SFF season later in the year.”

Q&A WITH MATTE KIRK FROM SURFING FOR FARMERS :

How long has Surfing for Farmers been running for the local community?

We have been running for the last 2 years. Our season runs from November – March

 What has the turnout been like?

 We average 30-40 farmers each week with well over 350 surf lessons this summer. There is also a BBQ and beer afterwards which helps with the overall chill time

 What benefits have you noticed from the initiative?

A few of our participants have bought their own boards and will continue to surf over the winter. Farmers have also told me they are far more open to talking to their mates about how they are feeling since coming along. It’s such a great thing to just connect with people and talk about what’s going on in your life, both the ups and the downs. There has been a real sense of belonging for a lot of our surfers this year, having this one thing in common has really united the group. We often get told “this is the highlight of my week”.

 It’s also amazing to see them turn up (sometimes looking a bit stressed) and 2 hours later are in a completely different headspace after getting out of the ocean. We take them out of their comfort zone and they just focus on catching the next wave which really helps them relax. Exercise is one of the best things you can do to look after your wellness and the ocean is also such a healer, so to be able to bring those two together makes perfect sense.

How do people get in touch if they are interested in joining?

They can message through our FB page: SurfingForFarmers or check out the website: surfingforfarmers.com

By Janine Jackson

Jay Crowhurst, left, and Jake Thompson receiving their surfboards.