14 September, 2005
World's Top Four Surfers To Visit NZ For Vodafone Surf Sessions
New Zealand surfing is set for the ride of its life next month with four of the world's top surfers - Andy Irons, Sunny Garcia, Mark Occhilupo and Joel Parkinson - confirmed for the inaugural Vodafone Surf Sessions.
Hot off the ASP World Championship Tour (WCT), these international surf legends will take on four of New Zealand's best; Daniel Kereopa, Maz & Jay Quinn and Bobby Hansen, in a head to head competition at Piha on Saturday 22 October.
"This event will put New Zealand on the international surfing map. Not only will it lift competitive surfing locally, it will boost our top kiwi surfers' profiles worldwide," says Greg Townsend, Executive Officer, Surfing NZ.
"We're stoked, never before has a group of this calibre visited New Zealand to compete. Combined they will be the most potent force competitive surfing has ever seen in New Zealand and we're very thankful for the fantastic support Vodafone has given to make an event of this magnitude possible," says Greg.
Three times defending World Champion, Hawaiian Andy Irons who recently took another step toward defending his title with a win in Japan, says he is looking forward to helping put something back into the sport.
"I'm also really amped to be visiting New Zealand for this first time, I've heard it's an awesome place to surf, and a beautiful country," says Andy.
Joining Andy in the Vodafone Surf Sessions is Australian, Mark Occhilupo (aka Occy), a surfing icon and with his retirement pending at the end of the year, this may well be the last time he competes in this part of the world. Hawaiian Sunny Garcia was the 2000 World Champion and is renowned for his 'powerhouse' surfing style. Joel Parkinson (aka Parko), an Aussie from Coolangatta, is an up and comer from the new school of surfing and was runner up on the World Championship Tour last year and in 2002.
One of the locals is Raglan surfer Daniel Kereopa (aka DK) who has been the overall winner of the Surfing New Zealand Pro Series three times in the last four years.
"It's amazing to have the chance to compete against these international guys, some of whom I've looked up to since I was a kid. Having this opportunity is mind-blowing," says DK.
DK's teammate is Gisborne born Maz Quinn, New Zealand's most successful surfer ever and the only Kiwi to have made it on the World Championship Tour (WCT in 2002). His brother Jay Quinn became New Zealand's first World Junior Champion in 2001 and since then has been traveling the world competing on the World Qualifying Series (WQS), to try and qualify for the World Championship Tour. Also from Gisborne is Bobby Hansen, an up and coming surfer who at the age of 16 became the only surfer ever to win three titles at one event.
Brendon O'Connor, Vodafone NZ's Head of Sponsorship, says Vodafone and Surfing New Zealand are committed to helping raise the profile of our local surfers internationally.
"These international surfers are household names and we are extremely lucky to have the chance to watch them compete right in our own back yard - at our West Coast beaches," says Brendon.
To help acclimatise and experience our world famous West Coast breaks, the surfers will also participate in an expression session on Friday 21 October at Raglan. This is their chance to get in the water and show their moves rather than compete against each other.
The next day they move to Piha for the actual competition, where they will participate in a round robin format with the surfers contesting two heats. Each heat will comprise of two kiwis and two internationals. The event will climax with a New Zealand vs. The World tag team event where the surfers will have to rely on their team to perform, not just themselves.
Surfers will compete for a trophy board designed by DK's brother Aaron Kereopa. The trophy is carved from a surfboard blank and features a figure representing Tawhirimatea - Maori god of the elements, the winds, storms and tempest. Without Tawhirimatea manipulating the ocean, there would be no waves.
Visit www.vodafone.co.nz/surf for further details.