Best surfers in the country compete at Billabong National Surf Championships in Pīhā

By Hone-Haunui Rapana
  • Auckland

The best surfers in the country are competing in Pīhā at the Billabong National Surf Championships. One woman's family from Raglan has become heavily involved to help her chase the title.

The new wave of competition has caught on.

Jessica Santorik says, “This event is the first event I've come to.  I've actually been in heats with girls and I don't know who they are and they're ripping.”

A past finalist on several occasions, Santorik has seen the new competitors raise the level of surfing this year. This morning, she competed for a place in the finals.

“I surfed in the semis this morning, so I'm happy I made it through. I got a couple of good little waves under my belt. That's all that matters is that I made it to the finals,” says Santorik.

Santorik's family has long-competed and supported these events. Whether it's on the ocean or behind the scenes, it's a family occasion.

Santorik says, “I was really young, and even before I was competing, my older brothers surfed and my dad's an experienced surfer and now he's a judge.”

George Santorik, father to Jessica Santorik and judge of the National Surf Championships says, “Surfing has been a big part of my life, and also having three kids who surf and compete in contest throughout New Zealand and overseas.”

In previous years, there were over four tournaments for this competition. Now they have decided to hold just the one national championship.

“I quite enjoy Pīhā, once your here you don't have to travel anywhere, you can walk anywhere to eat, and walk to the competition,” says George Santorik.

“Because it's a week-long event, it gives everybody time to hang out and chill properly.  All the other events are one or two days but this one it's a good event,” says Jessica Santorik

The 52nd annual competition is being held at Pīhā for the 11th time. Tomorrow the Junior Girls' and Open Womens' finals will be held.