The tide is turning for Raglan surfer Daniel Kereopa after advancing into the semi-finals for the Stand-up paddle board men's division at the National Surfing Championships in Piha today.
Kereopa was able to negotiate his spot in the next round and beat out his rivals with a score of 10.38 despite having competition from fellow competitors
"This is what we train for. We don't always train in perfect conditions, it's not always sunny. It's a little bit rough, but I'm from the West Coast and I enjoy it," says Kereopa who managed to negotiate treacherous conditions.
The Tainui surfer, who has won many stand-up paddle boarding titles on the Surfing World Qualifying Series, will be drawing on past experiences to hopefully add another championship to the collection
"You gotta be calm; you gotta be in tune with what the conditions are doing."
Organiser Ben Kennings has been impressed with the calibre of riders that have turned out this week at the National Surfing Championships and rates Kereopa a high chance to win it.
"He's the favourite for sure. He hasn't won it in the last two years, Shane Baxter beat him. Shane Baxter isn't here so Dans the favourite for sure."
Kennings believes that having Kereopa is beneficial not only to the championships, but also the younger generation of surfers who aspire to win titles just as the seasoned surfer has.
"To have Daniel at the National Champs is really important. He holds so much mana. He just gets along with all the young juniors and they all look up to him."
Kereopa, who currently runs a surf school in Orewa with partner Renee, is optimistic about the next generation of Māori surfers coming through the ranks. However, things are quite clearly different from when he started back in 1992.
"When I first started there were a lot more Māori families. The families in Aotearoa used to dominate the whole circuit, the open men’s the under 18’s. It’s kinda thinned out now. It’ been about fifteen years, there hasn’t many Māori champions, only a few. Now, we got a few from Whāingaroa who are Māori; Kora Cooper, Brie Bennett and Renee Davenport. “
Kereopa is expected to advance through to the final which will be contended later this afternoon, weather permitting.