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Firefighters started their national surfing championships yesterday in sizeable but messy conditions at The Pipe break at Midway Beach

There are 30 volunteer and permanent career staff — current and retired firefighters —in action over the two days of the championships.

“The surf conditions were quite testing at times yesterday and some competitors found it hard to get the right wave, but it was good start to the championships,” said local organiser and Gisborne career fireman Leon Kahn.

The surf was running at 1.5 metres-plus.

“It started out quite clean but then conditions deteriorated with the southerly. But we got through the novice division yesterday, including several surfers from this district, and completed Round 1 of the open and age group divisions,” he said. “Today we’ll have our semifinals and finals, possibly at Makorori if the sea conditions are right.”

Firefighter Kahn won his heats in the open and his age group divisions yesterday.

Gisborne’s Jake O’Connor also did well.

BATTLE ROIL: Sam Roil in action during heats of the New Zealand Fire Service Surfing Championships at The Pipe yesterday. Picture by Paul Rickard