OTAGO PENINSULA, New Zealand - New Zealander Daniel Kereopa has completed an upset of sorts at The Ultimate Waterman driven by Subaru today by taking out the Stand Up Paddleboard Surfing Division over his more experienced international opponents. The day’s action took place on the Otago Peninsula north of Dunedin in perfect 2.0m swells that wrapped around the rocky right hand point break. The remnants of Cyclone Pam continued to drive swell into the region creating excellent surfing conditions.
Kereopa won the 45 minute final in the dying stages after dropping in to an excellent wave midway down the point break. A big hook in the pocket, a quick barrel and two turns later Kereopa finished his wave at the foot of the cliffs to score a perfect ten point ride. Kereopa stole the final from Naish's Kai Lenny (HAW) who was in the lead after surfing an excellent 9.33 point ride smashing a wave the length of the point.
“My preparations started at the New Zealand National Champs where I contested four divisions. I got some great advice from my long time mentor Geoff Hutchison who told me I needed much more urgency in my heats and that is the approach I took today to get my first wave early in the final,” said Kereopa.
“I was really lucky to get that last wave half way down the point and get a little barrel a couple of turns and that close-out move on the rocks,” added Kereopa. To beat his international opponents was a big coup for Kereopa who said that even his children thought that Kai Lenny was going to “kick my butt”.
“This was a big one for me beating Kai, everyone knows he is one of the greatest ever watermen in the world so just being able to compete with him is good and yeah my kids owe me five bucks each now,” said Kereopa.
Kai Lenny surfed well throughout the final but was unable to find a wave to overtake Kereopa in the dying minutes. | Photo: Cory Scott
Lenny lamented the lack of waves in the final but knew that all the surfers were in the same situation. “For sure it is frustrating when you can’t get the waves to win but it is what it is,” said Lenny. “Our first heat was awesome, we had a flurry of waves, it was fun, but as that tide came up it was interesting how it changed the wave, the waves basically stopped,” added Lenny.
“I was hoping to win this one as my double whammy but now I will have to go out and win the last disciplines,” said Lenny of his chances to win the inaugural Ultimate Waterman event.
The result has done little to push Kereopa up the rankings - he sits seventh place out of eight athletes. But Kereopa has his all-important double whammy division yet to be contested – the longboard where he will secure double points.
Meanwhile, Kai Lenny (HAW) has taken the overall points lead with three of the six disciplines yet to be contested. FCS SUP's Danny Ching (USA) and Manoa Drollet (TAH) remain in second equal ahead of Mark Visser (AUS) in fourth. With the surf already on the decline, it is now unlikely that the big wave discipline will be contested with no large swell on the horizon. That means that final rankings will be determined over five disciplines only.
Placing third today was Kala Alexander (HAW) who was also contesting his double whammy discipline. Alexander used a bigger board than his opponents which allowed him to catch more waves against the stiff offshore winds. Placing fourth in the final was Starboard's Connor Baxter (HAW) who suffered at the hands of the incoming tide and dropping swell only catching one wave in the final.
The athletes will spend one more day in the Otago region as they look to complete the longboard discipline before traveling back north to Auckland for the final discipline. The stand up paddleboard race will bookend the event, a 16km race set to take place at Mission Bay, Auckland at 11am on Saturday morning.
Here are the video highlights from Day 2 of the shortboard surfing competition where Tahitian Manoa Drollet took the win.
Please see below for overall points after two of six disciplines.
1, Kai Lenny (HAW)*, 3120
2, Danny Ching (USA)*, 3083
3, Manoa Drollet (TAH)*, 3083
4, Mark Visser (AUS)*, 2803
5, Georges Cronsteadt (TAH)*, 2723
6, Kala Alexander (HAW)*, 2518
7, Daniel Kereopa (NZL), 2253
8, Connor Baxter (HAW), 1955
*Denotes double whammy division completed
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