Finn's perfect final
Finn Vette says he does his best surfing when he's feeling confident.
The Gisborne 15-year-old should take a fair bit of confidence into his next event, a World Surf League junior meet on the Gold Coast, after he won the boys' under-16 title at the national championships in Dunedin last Saturday.
Vette said the final went perfectly for him.
He got a couple of good waves in the first five minutes and was always in control, scoring 15.5 out of 20 — enough to comfortably see off his opponents.
Vette had a busy week in Dunedin, as he also surfed in the u18 and open men's divisions, and he's not about to take things easy. The Gold Coast event is this weekend.
He has another junior competition to look forward to in Manly in March, just ahead of the highly anticipated Piha Pro in Auckland.
The Piha Pro, from March 16-22, is part of the World Surf League's Challenger series and some of New Zealand's best talent will be against top surfers from overseas.
Vette also has Year 12 at Gisborne Boys' High School to take care of in 2020.
The surfers in Dunedin had challenging conditions to contend with at St Clair and Karitane as the swell got up early in the week.
Vette was still in the hunt in all three of his divisions over several days, eventually bowing out in the open men's and u18 semifinals, which allowed him to concentrate on Saturday's u16 final.
“It was definitely a challenging week,” he said. “I was pretty busy every day. It took a lot out of me, for sure.”
One surfer cheering him on was Gisborne veteran John Gisby.
“I was pleased for him,” Gisby said. “I was giving him a lot of encouragement. I don't think he needed it — he surfed so well in the final.”
Gisby, 66, picked up his 38th national title when he won the men's over-60 division on Saturday.
“I've still got the same enthusiasm from when I started,” he said.
Gisby admitted to getting nervous when the nationals roll around.
“I can't sleep or eat properly. It's horrible, but I think it's a nervous energy that really helps me. Once I hit the water, I'm OK.”
Gisby is normally a frontrunner, so what made him proud of this year's win was that he had to come from behind to win his final.
With about five minutes left, he still needed to find a solid score.
He found it and his combined total of 10.1 out of 20 was just enough to secure the title.
Gisby works two days a week as a security guard at Gisborne Hospital.
“Every day's a surf day,” he said.
“Gisborne is blessed with such good surfing conditions.
“When it comes to preparing for competition, I'm as fit as I can be.”
Gisby, who won his first national title in Gisborne in 1984, has thought about retiring from competition before but in the weeks leading up to the nationals he found that the urge to compete was still there.
He would be content to finish with 38 national titles, he said.
But there was no denying the prospect of possibly winning 40 looked appealing.