NZ surf champ no ordinary teen talent
Mt Maunganui teenager Matt Hewitt secured the biggest title of a fledgling career by winning the open men's crown at the national surfing championship today.
In doing so Hewitt, 17, unseated Jay Quinn as this country's top male surfer while also repulsing the challenge of 2007 champion Daniel Kereopa at Piha near Auckland.
In the women's competition, Christchurch's Daisy Thomas won the open title ahead of defending champion Angie Koops.
Hewitt's success came on the back of a good finals performance in the under-18 boys' division where he finished second behind Piha's Ryan Hawker.
"(I'm) Super excited, super stoked," Hewitt said.
"I had the 18s final and got second but this more than makes up for it."
Hewitt won every heat he contested at the event and also posted the highest heat score of 19.0 out of a possible 20 in the semifinals.
He held the lead for over half of the final after waiting patiently to get underway, taking five minutes to get off the mark.
His first wave netted him the highest score of the final, 8.25 out of a possible 10.
"I got a slow start and didn't get a wave for ages so when that one came through I knew I had to throw it out there and pull off the big moves."
The surf was not ideal, making wave selection crucial and when both Quinn and Kereopa required scores in excess of 7.5 the pressure went on and Hewitt could sit back.
Kereopa eventually finished second in the final after falling short of the 7.66 required on his final wave, with Jay Quinn third and Gauranga Ormond fourth.
Thomas claimed the women's title after holding off Jessica Santorik, who required a 5.30 point ride on her last wave but scored 4.80 to fall just short.
"It hasn't sunk in yet, but god I am stoked," Thomas said.
She scored 12.0 points in the final, posting the score early on to put the pressure on her rivals.