The annual Ray White Duke Festival of Surfing that takes place at New Brighton Beach, Christchurch from Friday this week will have an extra emphasis for those surfers vying for national selection into the New Zealand Longboard Team.

The three-day event celebrates the sport of surfing under the name of legendary Hawaiian waterman and Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku with surfers from the length of the country heading to New Brighton to take part. While many enter the event for the festivities and the great cause behind the festival which brings to life New Brighton, there will be some fierce rivalries for positions within the New Zealand Team.

The International Surfing Association (ISA) World Longboard Championship is being held in France at the end of May, pushing forward the selection of the New Zealand Team, with this weekend’s event the final chance to impress selectors this summer.

New Zealand’s top longboarders will be in attendance to add weight to their selection cause with two males and two females selected to represent New Zealand.  New Zealand’s top-ranked longboarders will no doubt be challenged by the strong local contingent that often dominates the event.

The stylish local Luke O’Neill claimed the event in 2018 and will look to make his fourth consecutive final since the event began in 2016, and his third win overall.  The only blemish in the 23-year-olds record is a runner up finish to Zen Wallis (Piha) in 2017.

Wallis is one of dozens of surfers from the North Island making the trip down for the event and a surfer eyeing up selection for the New Zealand Team.  Wallis is joined by current rankings leader and winner of the Barret Homes Surf Open, Michael Grendon (Tara) and fourth-ranked surfer Paul Culpan (Auck) who only last week, claimed the Loggerheads Six held at Mangawhai Heads.

In the Women’s Division, winner of the Barrett Homes Surf Open, Josephine Moore (Tara), will take on New Zealand representative Sasha Brownlie (Auck) and winner of the 2018 edition of the event – Estella Hungerford (Chch) along with local favourites Brittany Andrews and Minnie Robberds.

The premier longboard divisions are complemented by Over 40, 50 and 60 divisions as well as Stand Up Paddleboard for males and females.

The junior divisions at the event range from Under 20 through to Under 12 with over 140 entries received for these divisions, which are dual sanctioned by Surfing New Zealand and the South Island Surfing Association.

The junior divisions will kick off the action on Friday with the longboard and stand up paddleboard divisions starting on Saturday.

A mammoth three days of surfing lies ahead for all participants with the finals set to be contested on Sunday (17 March).

The surfing events conclude a week-long celebration of surfing related art, movies, workshops and music.

The Ray White Duke Festival of Surfing features over $15,000 in prizes making it one of the richest events on the New Zealand and South Island Surfing Circuits in 2019.

About the Duke Festival of Surfing
In 2015 Ross Tyson made the amazing replica of the Duke’s surfboard as part of the centenary celebrations of Duke Kahanamoku’s surfing and swimming displays in the area. Ross designed the support framework; the pattern for the board was kindly drawn out in full size by Mark Calcutt; Dave Poyner finished the board surface with a beautiful high spec coating.

These celebrations spurned the inaugural “Duke Festival” the following year and the festival is now one of New Zealand’s largest surfing events.

The Duke Festival is about more than just the sport of surfing; it’s about the culture of the beach and those who love the sand between their toes and salt in their hair.

The Duke Festival uses the sport and culture of surfing to raise pride in, and the perception of, the wider New Brighton area.

Information
For more information on the Ray White Duke Festival of Surfing please contact Warren Hawke on 021 293 5735 or wajhawke@yahoo.com or Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz.

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