Hawaiian takes out 2016 Ultimate Waterman title

The hugely successful 2016 Ultimate Waterman event has come to an end, with Raglan’s Daniel Kereopa coming in third overall after winning the shortboard discipline.

Overall winner of the 2016 multi-discipline surf event was 22-year-old Hawaiian Zane Schweitzer, who came first in the prone paddleboard, the standup paddle surf and the longboard disciplines, and third in both the shortboard and the standup endurance disciplines.

“I have been training for this event all of my life without knowing about The Ultimate Waterman,” Schweitzer said after his crowning as the Ultimate Waterman 2016 on Sunday at the Auckland Viaduct.

Both Schweitzer and 2015 defending champion Kereopa chose longboard – which Kereopa won last year at Raglan – as their “double whammy”. This meant they received double points for their placing.

It was a close call in the longboard final at Piha, with Schweitzer scoring 14.43 to Kereopa’s 14.33, pushing the Hawaiian beyond the Raglan surfer’s reach on the points table.

Despite carrying a leg problem from day one of the multi-discipline surf event, Kereopa won the shortboard discipline, which was contested in Fiordland.

American Danny Ching, who placed second overall, was a consistently good performer, winning both the outrigger canoe race and the underwater strength run and swim disciplines and placing well in several of the other seven disciplines.

Hawaiian Connor Baxter won the final 16km standup paddleboard endurance race on Sunday, which ended at the “Waterman Central” area at the Auckland Viaduct.

The Ultimate Waterman event creator and organiser, Raglan-based Greg Townsend, said the 2016 event was a huge success with even better locations and better organisation than the inaugural event last year.

“We thought we couldn’t have written the script better last year, but things turned out even better this year,” he said.

The trip to Fiordland and Southland to look for good waves for the shortboard, big wave and standup paddle surf disciplines was a real highlight for the athletes, despite being unable to find the elusive ‘big wave’ for the eighth discipline.

“They absolutely loved it – they said it was the best event they’ve ever competed in. And they got to see an amazing part of the country that some New Zealanders don’t even get to see,” Townsend said.

The camaraderie between the athletes was also apparent, and this was another of the great things about the event: “It’s like a big family”.

Daniel Kereopa also remarked on this at Sunday’s crowning ceremony, saying that all the athletes had special ocean knowledge and talents – from holding their breath for six minutes to riding 80 to 100-foot waves – which they were happy to share with the others.

“Unless we pool our knowledge, we can’t grow as a family,” Kereopa said.

Red Bull Media House, which will screen a three-part series about The Ultimate Waterman 2016 in September on Red Bull TV, had an even bigger presence at this year’s event.

“They’re absolutely stoked with the event. They plan on going even bigger and better next year. Watch this space,” Townsend said.

Rachel Benn

Overall Results

1st Zane Schweitzer (HAW)

2nd Danny Ching (USA)

3rd Daniel Kereopa (NZL)

4th Connor Baxter (HAW)

5th Mark Visser (AUS)

6th Caio Vaz (BRA)

7th Manoa Drollet (TAH)

8th Kala Alexander (HAW)

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