Caleb Cutmore was back home and out surfing as soon as possible after his Billabong Grom Series win In Piha this past weekend.
Caleb and his friends and schoolmates from the Raglan Surf Academy are out surfing most days of the year. What’s more, they get to surf in school time.
“There are 16 in our class at the surf academy at Raglan Area School, and we mix in with the rest of the school,” Caleb explains.
“But at quarter to two every day we go out surfing instead of sitting in a classroom, Surfing takes up two of our class times. We learn about surfing in the classroom and then we go out and do it!”
Caleb is just starting level 3 NCEA and is doing four subjects and has been at Raglan Area School since the start of last year after previously attending Hamilton Boys’ High School.
On Saturday, the goofy footer won the third and final leg of the Grom Series to win the U18 Boys section and defend the title he won last year.
The third event of the series at Piha was scheduled for two days, but with adverse weather forecast for Sunday it was completed in one big day of surfing.
Caleb finished with a 14.27 point heat total edging out Jack Lee who pushed him for the win posting 14.07 points out of a possible 20.
This followed wins in the first leg at Mount Maunganui and a fourth in the second leg at Whangamata over the past few weeks.
The four-surfer U18 Boys final was an all-Raglan Surf Academy final, as Caleb explained.
“There was Jack Lee and Luis Southwood, both from Whakatane, and Taylor O’Leary from Muriwai in the final. We all go to school together every day. Every Tuesday morning we have a competition amongst ourselves so it was just like another one of those,” said Caleb.
“We are all pretty close. Jack got three seconds in the Grom Series - he didn’t quite win but he got close in all three legs.”
When the wider group aren’t competing against each other they are out there surfing together for fun.
“My favourite break is Manu Bay [in Raglan]. Around the headland from Raglan there is a beach called Ruapuke. It is usually way too big, but when the swell drops off it is a good size and that is a really good wave as well.
Caleb has travelled around New Zealand and overseas on surfing trips. “Last year I went on a trip with a few other guys to Fiji, no competition, just going to get good waves.”
What is the difference between just going out for a surf and surfing competitively?
“Pretty much the main difference is when you are free surfing it doesn’t really matter if you fall off, you are just learning and trying new things. But in a competition you want to land everything and complete all your waves.”
Surfing competitions are marked by judges on the beach.
“The heats throughout the event are 15 minutes, except for the final which is 20 minutes. Each wave you catch is marked out of 10 and your top two waves count. So the idea is to get two or three good waves in there and get the highest score out of 20.”
Caleb lives with his family at Raglan, having recently moved there from Hamilton.
“My everyday break is Manu Bay. Every so often I will go somewhere else, most often Manu Bay.”
Has Caleb been in any dangerous situations?
“I have seen a shark but it wasn’t a dangerous one. There has been the odd scary situation such as when we surfing across the harbour at Raglan and we left it a bit too late and we had to paddle across the harbour in pitch black.
“Last year in Fiji I surfed at a place called Restaurants and it is a sharp reef and it gets super-shallow. Luckily I didn’t come off but I cut myself slightly and it was okay, but one of the guys I was with sliced his back on the reef.”
Has he ever been caught out in big waves? “I have never been properly hurt in big waves but I have been held under for a while. But that is all just part of it.”
Late last year he represented New Zealand at the Junior World Championships at Huntington Beach, California and finished a credible 13th in the individual Boys U18 division. The event attracted 350 Boys and Girls U16 and U18 surfers from 44 countries.
“That was exciting having the whole team backing me and making a few heats alongside people who are much more well-known than I am. in New Zealand everyone is friends and knows each other but over there it is different and more serious.”
This was Caleb’s second Junior World Championships, after finishing 49th as a year 11 surfer in 2017. He hopes to earn selection for this year’s Junior World Champs, details of which haven’t been finalised yet.
He has also competed in Australia and in Brazil at the Rip Curl competition. Back home, he won the 2017 U16 Boys title and then the 2018 U18 Boys title at the [NZSS] Scholastic Surfing Championships.
What is coming up this year? “I will be competing in Australia a couple of times this year as well as doing the Surfing New Zealand Circuit and then hopefully going to the World Juniors again.”
Caleb is open about the future. “I definitely want to take my surfing as far as I can, but I might also look to go to university next year or start getting some qualifications behind me as a back-up plan.”
Like all surfers, Caleb wants to surf around the world, including at the most famous break of them all, Pipeline in Hawaii.
“Pipeline looks amazing if no one was out there. It is quite crowded. I would definitely want to surf it but it is not like I can just rock up and take any wave I want.”
The world’s top 34 surfers compete on the elite men’s World Championship tour. How attainable is that goal?
“It is a big leap up, it is a lot of hard work and plenty of years to qualify for the world tour. There are hundreds of people who are all just as good as each other fighting it out for 30 spots.”
Plus the financial hurdles to overcome to get to travel around the world chasing the best waves and competitions.
Surfing has also been given a boost by being included on the list of proposed new sports for inclusion at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
For now, Caleb is happy to spend his days finishing his last year of school and surfing everyday on one of the breaks virtually on his backdoor at Raglan.
The recent 2019 Billabong Grom Series overall champions were:
Under 18 Boys – Caleb Cutmore (Rag)
Under 18 Girls – Gabrielle Paul (Piha)
Under 16 Boys – Jayden Willoughby (Rag)
Under 16 Girls – Ava Henderson (Chch)
Under 14 Boys – Bill Byers (Piha)
Under 14 Girls – Anna Brock (Mnt)
New Zealand ski racer Alice Robinson has been crowned Junior World Champion in Giant Slalom.
The seventeen-year-old from Wakatipu High School in Queenstown went in to Tuesday night’s race at the Alpine World Junior Ski Championships in Val di Fassa, Italy as the world number one U18 racer for ladies’ GS. This is the first time a New Zealander has won a Junior World title in alpine ski racing.
“Winning is incredible,” said Robinson. “I arrived in Val di Fassa with some good results in my last races and a good experience at the World Championships in Are, but I knew that there were some really strong athletes here. I tried to stay focused and to ski to the best of my ability. Being able to win in the first race at the Junior World Championships is really incredible.”
Robinson has had a strong build up to the Junior World Championships with a win and a second-place finish at European Cup Giant Slaloms in Berchtesgaden, Germany on 9 and 10 February, followed by a 17th place finish at the senior World Championships in Are, Sweden last week.
Sitting in second place after run one, 0.9s behind Slovenian Meta Hrovat, Robinson recorded the fastest time on run two to take the win by 1.06s. A fall from Hrovat put her out of the medals, opening the way for Swiss skier Camille Rast to take the silver medal, and Norway’s Kaja Norbye the bronze.
Robinson will be back in the start gate tonight (NZT) for the Junior World Championship Slalom, along with team mate Amelia Gillard. Gillard finished 51st in the GS.
As Junior World Champion, Robinson has also earned the opportunity to compete at the World Cup finals in Andorra on 17 March.
Alice Robinson Q and A on the eve of the Junior World Cup
European You Tube channel Ski Online interviewed Alice on the mountain on the eve of the Junior World Cup this week:
How did you start skiing?
I started skiing in Queenstown back home. The mountain is a 10-minute drive from where I live, so I just started skiing up on the mountain there in the weekends.
Do you have any family that ski?
They ski but they didn’t really grow up skiing, they grew up in hot climates so they didn’t really ski that much. But when we moved to Queenstown everyone got into it.
Are you going to school in New Zealand, or how are you managing online school and ski racing?
I just go school at the local high school in Queenstown and they are really relaxed and help me out and do stuff while I am there. Then when I am not there I just focus on skiing and then when I get back I focus on school and catch-up.
When you travel, what is your team like? Are you coaching with your mum and dad or with your coach?
At the moment I am travelling with another team of girls and when I go to races I travel with them. There is another Kiwi girl who goes to most of the world cups as well.
What is your target in ski racing?
Probably to be top three in the World Cup.
What do you need to get there?
Just to work hard and keep pushing.
Have you had any injuries?
I have been safe on injuries so far – touch wood. I haven’t had any big problems like that so hopefully it continues!
Do you feel homesick, when you are so far away from home for most of the year?
Not really. I love home, but it is good to get out of New Zealand for a bit. And this year I am not really home for that long, about three months so it is not too bad.
Do you ski all-year round? Because when you are here you miss summer-time in New Zealand and then you go home and it is winter again?
My season this year in Europe, in the Northern Hemisphere, is only three months. Then I will probably only ski three months. And winters in New Zealand are not really like winters in Europe. It is not as cold and there is no snow in the towns, it is just on the mountains, so it is not too bad!
Thank you, I wish you all the best for the juniors.
Watch the full interview here:
Liam Lawson lives life in the fast lane and he is speeding up.
Lawson has won a contract with the Red Bull Junior Team.
He signed on with Red Bull on his 17th birthday but was unable to announce the news for several days.
"It is huge. I've dreamed of this since I was a kid. Out of all the Formula One teams, I've always loved Red Bull," Lawson told TVNZ.
He will be mentored by former Kiwi F1 driver Brendon Hartley who spent 2018 driving for Red Bull's development team Toro Rosso.
The former Pukekohe High School student will be based in Europe and race in the Formula European Masters series.
Signing with Red Bull means Lawson will spend time with F1 drivers Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly. He is one of nine drivers to sign on with the Red Bull Junior Team.
He recently won the Castrol Toyota Racing Series (TRS) and the New Zealand Grand Prix at Manfeild.
Two years ago. Lawson won the New Zealand F1600 Championship, making him globally the youngest ever Formula Ford champion. Lawson dominated the NZ F1600 season, winning pole at every round and taking victory in 14 of the 15 championship races. He finished second in the other. He won the title on his 15th birthday.
He stepped up from karting with a string of race, event and championship wins to his name and moved into Formula First in 2015 then to winning pace in Formula Ford a year later.
Lawson attended Pukekohe High School from 2015-17, before leaving school to pick up a contract with an overseas team racing in Europe. He finished second in the German Formula 4 Championship in 2018.
The annual Coast to Coast multisport event is one of the toughest events on the New Zealand sporting calendar.
Last weekend a trio of St Andrew’s College athletes took on the Coast to Coast for the first time and comfortably won the schools race over two days.
The team of year 12 boys Ben Leech and Henry Spark and year 13 girl Fiona Murray (recent StAC student, now living in Wanaka and attending Mt Aspiring College) traversed the 243km on foot, bike and kayak in a time of just over 13 and a half hours.
They won the 3-person schools race by and hour and a half and finished seventh overall out of 61 teams overall in their category. They were also quicker than 48 of the 50 2-person teams, giving them a top 10 finish overall in the combined teams Coast to Coast races.
The other six school teams were from Aotea College, Mackenzie College, St Thomas of Canterbury College, Greymouth High School and Mt Hutt College.
Adventure racing is a growing sport at StAC. Last December they finished 5th out of 12 behind South Island winners Waimea College in the National Get2Go Finals held at the Hillary Outdoors Centre beside the Tongariro National Park.
Coming up, StAC is looking at competing at the SISS Adventure Racing Championships in Gore on 16 March and then the NZSS Adventure Racing Championships in Cromwell on 30 March.
Together, the winning team have answered these questions below about their weekend traversing the South Island.
Who did which leg of the race, how did you split the race up between you?
Fiona started with the 2.2k run off the beach, which Ben then followed with a 55km bike to the start of the run. Henry then ran the 33km of Goat Pass to finish off the day. We finished the first day with a time of 5 hours 43 minutes. The second day Ben did the 15km bike ride, then Henry did the 1km run followed by Fiona who paddled 67km down the Waimakariri River. Ben then took us to the finish line in New Brighton with an overall time of 13 hours and 32 minutes.
What are your backgrounds in each of the events and had you competed together in previous races?
This was the first time we had competed together as a team. However we have all had other experience in other multisport type races including mountain biking and adventure racing.
This was also the first time that a team representing St Andrew’s College had competed at the Coast to Coast.
What were your expectations before the race?
We all knew the course was going to be tough and challenging but to come out with the result we got was above expectations. Henry had a goal to be able to complete the mountain run in under 4 hours and achieved this.
At what point did you know you were competing in this year’s Coast to Coast and how did you team come together in the first place?
We came together midway through last year and entered as a team into the Coast to Coast. The hree of us just decided to do it together. Hopefully next year we may have more than one team.
Did you spend the summer school holidays training?
We trained individually as we were all doing separate legs of the race. We spent a lot of time over the summer holidays training and then came together for the weekend. Our parents were instrumental in helping us train through the summer giving us guidance and support.
How did the race pan out?
The race panned out really well and we did better than expected. Everything went smoothly.
We were in the lead after day one. Day one went really well and there were no mishaps. It’s nearly impossible to tell who is what team during the race, you can just look at the results as teams finish each day.
Day two also went smoothly except we almost left our timing transponder behind at the accommodation (we had to go back and get it) which could have been a disaster.
How exhausted were you after finishing and crossing the South Island, and did you know you had won (the school’s section) and done so well in the 3-person race overall?
We were all pretty knackered after the race, glad to see the finish line. It wasn’t too long after when we knew how well we had done. The results are added to the Coast to Coast app at frequent intervals.
How did you celebrate?
We celebrated at the end then slept! We then met up again at prize-giving the following day.
Tell us about your support?
We had really good support from family and friends. All of our parents were helping and supporting at the transitions and overnight they fed us well. The teacher in charge of Multisport, Greg Thompson, also came along and It was good to have his knowledge and expertise. We want to thank Buddle Findlay for sponsoring us for the event.
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