Comp Season Underway For Gisborne Boardriders

Finn Johnson

Fourteen year old Finn Johnson of Wainui yesterday won the open men’s division of this year’s first Gisborne Boardriders Event. Johnson who proudly surfed for Stock Route Mafia syndicate used speed in testing conditions, a combination of searing forehand carves and vertical backhand fin throws to take the win. Johnson is a talented surfer but seemed an underdog being the youngest surfer in the Open division and surfing against seasoned men, women and girls, some of whom hold, or have held national titles in the past. Johnson won every heat on his way to victory today. Josh Colbert (SRM) was looking the stand out surfer in earlier rounds but was unable to find the waves in the final to match Johnson

This was the Gisborne Boardriders Club’s first event of 2017. The venue of Northern Makorori provided surf in the well overhead range that was eventually affected by a strong North East wind that increased to a gale by mid morning. The swell held its size all day at 2-4 feet. Conditions were generally reasonably contestable for all divisions. This was the first of eight shortboard events the club have planned this year and competitors will have the luxury of dropping their two worst events for the year so their best six results will count.

15 year old Saffi Vette, current New Zealand Under 16 Girls and Under 18 Girls National champion surfed for the Makorori syndicate. Vette continued her run of excellent performances by making the Open final leaving a trail of significant names in her wake including her father who she dispatched in round one. Saffi finished 4th overall in the Open division.

14 year old Manawa Ruru of Wainui surfing for The Stock Route Mafia was easily the fastest surfer of the event. The stylish, powerful and rapidly improving Ruru surfed to a double win taking out both Under 14 and Under 16 divisions. Finn Vette displayed flashes of brilliance but after much deliberation, the majority of Judges favoured the speed, power & flow of Ruru’s waves to narrowly edge out his Makorori rival & take the win for Stock Route. Saffi and Finn Vette, Finn Johnson and Manawa Ruru will take confidence from their success as they prepare to head north to Mt Maunganui next weekend to contest event 1 in the Billabong Grom Series.

Stella Smith won the Open Women’s division and thus continued her winning run after taking her first National Title in the Junior Women’s SUP at the National Championships in Piha earlier this month.

First time competitors and mother and daughter combination Sarah and Fern Boyle both enjoyed their day at the beach as Gisborne Boardriders Club members. Sarah finished 9th in the Open Women’s and Fern 9th in the Under 14 division.

Cody Keepa’s results reflected his fitness and ability. Keepa, 42 won a hotly contested Over 35 division and also placed 3rd in the Open division. He surfed with smooth precision, demonstrating the speed and agility associated by surfers half his age.

This was the first event for the new club president Andrew Vette. Vette will pick up where Don Pearson left off and continue to represent the club and surfing in the district. Vette was pleased with the turnout and the positive atmosphere the competitors created. The high standard of the Junior Surfers is very exciting for the Club but equally pleasing is seeing newcomers to Competition, taking advantage of the non-elimination format and raising the level of their surfing. 10 year old Ben Kassel is one showing great progress and would welcome other junior surfers in the Gisborne district to come along and enjoy the fun.

Finally, for the first time Gisborne Boardriders Club included a Break of Origin competition. This is now embedded into the year’s shortboard series. All competing surfers nominate themselves to surf for a break they associate themselves with either geographically or where they learned to surf. Stock Route Mafia has taken pole position after event one. There are still seven contests left running through to December so check out… or to keep up to date with events this year.
Written by Kelly Ryan
Pictures by Cody Keepa



1st Finn Johnson
2nd Josh Colbert
3rd Cody Keepa
4th Saffi Vette

1st Manawa Ruru
2nd Saffi Vette
3rd Tigher West-Hill
4th Stella Smith

1st Stella Smith
2nd Geraldine Spencer
3rd Hannah King
4th Nikki Horsman

OVER 35:
1st Cody Keepa
2nd Andy Vette
3rd Mark Gardner
4th Richard Page

OVER 60:
1st John Gisby
2nd Ross Moodie
3rd Max Bryant
4th Jim Milne

OVER 50:
1st Sam Mottart
2nd Richard Page
3rd Pom Devine
4th Marguerite Vujcich

1st Manawa Ruru
2nd Finn Vette
3rd Hannah King
4th Tigher West-Hill

1st SRM 20656
2nd OA 18514
3rd TSOL 14610
4th MMF 14532

5th Mahia 3670