Standing up to be counted
Harrison Williams says this summer will be a balancing act.
The Panmure 13-year-old is learning to stand-up paddle board (SUP) with his family and will be competing in the City Surf Series at Mission Bay from November to March.
It is the largest weekend competition in the southern hemisphere, organisers say.
Harrison says the biggest challenge will be dividing his time between paddle boarding and other sports.
The Saint Kentigern College student is an under-15 New Zealand basketball representative and will compete in the Basketball Pacific tournament in Australia next year.
He took to the water for the first time on a board a couple of weeks ago at Mission Bay and says paddling came naturally.
"In my other sports, basketball and touch, you don't need heaps of balance.
"It's different but it was really good. I'm looking forward to the competition."
He is taking advantage of the City Surf Series initiative to get more secondary school students into the sport.
It is the first year there is a secondary school section in the series with under-18s racing 1km on donated boards after weekly coaching sessions.
Coach JP Tobin is a professional windsurfer and stand-up paddle boarder who will be lending a hand to youngsters getting into the sport.
He says youth involvement is important to grow SUP at grassroots level.
He attended the largest SUP event in the world last month, Battle of the Paddle in California, and says the competition confirmed the dominance of children and teenagers in the sport.
Learning to respect the ocean and understand tides, winds and currents are some of the benefits of getting involved.
"It's really cool to see little kids rip it up on the water. It's such a natural thing and easy for kids to learn.
"There's some pretty healthy things for kids to know - especially Kiwi kids."
City Surf Series director Troy Huston says introducing secondary schools to the competition was a no-brainer.
The company organised sponsored boards, paddles and coaches to keep costs down.
"Secondary school is one of the divisions where we wanted to incorporate the youth of the eastern bays into the world's fastest growing water sport."
Go to citysurfseries.co.nz for more information.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Have the new speed limit rules made you change your driving habits?