Catching up with the Raglan Surfing Academy

As we begin a new academic year, we connect with Larry Fisher, who teaches Surfing at Raglan Area School, to learn about the latest developments and plans for 2024.

As we start the new year and new term what are some of the events happening for Academy students in the coming months?  

In the first few weeks, it’s all about getting to know each other, and developing our culture and expectations collectively Then it’s getting the students prepared physically, technically, strategically and mentally to compete in the National Grom series around the country. This consists of competitions at Mount Maunganui(last week), Whangamata, Piha and Gisborne. Then the final big event at Raglan – the Backdoor King and Queen of the Point where the students get to surf in the Junior Division as well as the Open Division against the older more experienced surfers at Manu Bay where they surf daily.

What are you looking forward to about the year ahead with the Academy?

I’m looking forward to getting to know the new students as well as further developing relationships with the returning students. I am hoping that the Academy programme along with my and Deane’s input will be a benefit to the students’ surfing progression, academic achievement and personal development.

When you look back at 2023 what were some of the highlights of the programme?

For me, the highlight of 2023  was having the responsibility and maybe even a bit of pressure of teaching and coaching local kids whose dads were surfers I looked up to back in the ’80s, 90’s early 2000s, as well as the dads who I surf with still today and have all contributed significantly to our community. 

-These students to name a few are the likes of Pipiri Kelly whose dad Maioha Kelly was one of the best surfers in New Zealand in the 80’s and early 90’s. He had the best tight backhand rail carve in the business and still does to this day. 

-Deane Hishon (my fellow Academy Coach) has probably locked in the most water time at Manu Bay over the 3 decades, and his daughter Keira was in her first year in 2023.

– Surfline Forecaster James Frazerhurst may be currently the only guy in Raglan at his age who somehow surfs between 2-3 times a day every day and had his youngest daughter Lani in the Academy.

-Whale Bay Resident Tom Wellby has trained many Raglan surfers and other athletes in his home gym. His son Tawhia finished his third year with the Academy.

-Local legend shaper Mark Camenzind better known as Spoony, who has shaped boards for over half of the Raglan Surf community over the years. His daughter Jade is in the Academy and her brother Jarvis was in the Academy the year before, and more than likely, Spooney’s youngest Van will be in next year when he is old enough.

-Current Raglan Point Boardriders vice president Marcus Hodgkinson’s daughter Molly was in there as well. 

-Paul “Polly” Clarke was part of the crew that held Indies in check during the 80’s and early 90’s; his daughter Meila was another under the tutelage of myself and Deane Hishon.

-Jeremy Gee who is the dawn patrol king at Indicators and someone who always sniffs out a barrel had his daughter Ayla in the Academy.

-Big Gary Greetis another Indicators stalwart. His son Ollie was another second-generation surfer in the Academy.

– Jahmin had a great year in the Academy and his dad Simon Thompson is another keen and competent Raglan surfer.

– The blonde bomber goofyfoot duo of Tim and son Luke Dymond. Tim is a frequent surfer at Manu Bay and you will notice him with his trademark big yellow smiley face on all his surfboards. You will see Luke this summer working down at the Raglan SurfCo Surfshop.

– Local Pipe Master plumber Richard Morse had his boy Theo in there.

– Finally, Leon Santorik who was in the Academy himself in its first two years is arguably one of the best backhand surfers to navigate the barrels of the Manu Bay Ledge section when it is big and heavy. His boy Tava is in the Academy and seems to be following the footsteps of the old boy.

Other highlights were the competitive results and wins, but what was more rewarding was seeing the students’ enthusiasm and improvement in their surfing and their growth in character as kind and confident young people. 

We ran a series of interviews with surfing families who had students in the programme in 2023. Do you have more surfers from the next generation of keen surfing families onboard this year?

Long time Raglan surfer Keith Redman who has longboarded and paddleboarded for many moons at Manu Bay and surrounding surf spots has his grandson Daniel joining the Academy this year. Daniel is a talented basketballer and has a real passion for surfing. He could be an interesting one to interview.

Have the students from out of town found host families to live with? You must be very appreciative of these families who invite students into their home and support them for the year. 

Yes, the few out-of-town students have all found homes through our amazing and hard-working homestay coordinator Wayne Morris. Wayne does a great job finding people, families and homes that are willing to take on a student. Yes, it is still a big responsibility to take on the care of a teenager and we are very thankful for the families who have currently got students or who had them in the past.

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