• April 13, 2018
Competitors and surfers watch the final go down at the Kona Kona Classic. Photo: George Fisher.
Braedyn Louie won the 23rd annual Kona Kona Classic surf competition at Piha on April 8 after a closely contested final.
This year’s event involved 28 surfers gathering at south Piha beach early Sunday morning to compete in the first of five rounds.
Mr. Louie emerged the winner of the final round after the judges scored his best two waves a combined 13.5 points, closely followed by Francis Kora on 13.3 points and Toby Dobson-Smith on 12.5 points.
Mr Louie said it was an honour to win the event and any of the top three placing surfers could have won that day.
“I thought everyone surfed well in the final. I feel proud to have won what many of us consider the most prestigious competition behind the national title,” said Mr Louie.
Prize giving was held at the Piha Bowling Club after the judges deliberated and finalised their scores.
Mr Dobson-Smith, placing third, also managed to scoop up the biggest wipe out trophy for his efforts in the competition.
Mr Dobson-Smith said this year’s competition was extra special after the tragic death of a main organiser and his father, Bruce Smith.
“This competition was more significant this year after my dad died in January. He’s been a part of the Kona Kona since the beginning so it is like a celebration of his life,” says Mr Dobson-Smith.
The Kona Kona Classic first began in 1995 after Mr Smith and his friends, living in north Piha, decided to run a competition between each other.
They labelled themselves the ‘Backyard Board Riders’, or BYB for short, and prided themselves on the slogan ‘bros not pros’.
BYB member Matt Ziegler said the event had a focus of winning but also bringing local surfers together.
“It’s a surfing competition… but also a day hanging with your mates. It’s just Piha, locals and friends you know,” he says.
Entry into this year’s competition was through invitation only because of the high numbers wanting to compete.
A spot in the Kona Kona cost $50 with each competitor receiving a t-shirt, a tradition dating back to the first Kona Kona Classic.
After the cost of manufacturing t-shirts had been covered, the leftover funds will be donated to the burns unit at Middlemore Hospital.