Often who you associate with and surround yourself with ultimately rubs off when it comes to developing as a sportsperson, having access to inspirational mentors and those that you aspire to be like can fast track your learning curve and lay the foundations that put you in get steed for the future.
When it comes to surf zones on the Coromandel Peninsula the hot bed of Whangamata and to a slightly lesser extent Tairua and Pauanui have continually churned out good quality surfers, a result of feeding off generations of surf addicted friends and family. Yet further north on this Peninsula despite a bigger population base, the town of Whitianga, while boasting a few good local surfers over the years, none have gone on to develop into top talents. Enter Jay Piper-Healion born into an information generation, where every facet of surfing across the world is available at your fingertips, this has seen the development process change from becoming a surfer because your dad or cousin surfed and then inspired by other talents in the area to raise the game, to opening up a world of opportunity to anyone that wants to take their surfing beyond the recreational local fun times.
Aside from this technological development in recent times, Jay early on showed glimpses of natural talent that have been nurtured at the Raglan Surf Academy he now attends and in recent years has developed into one of the top juniors in the country. Proving that by making the Junior boys final at the National Surf Champs earlier this year. Meet our grom on the rise!
Name : Jay Piper-Healion Age: 17 Where are you from? I'm from Whitianga on the Coromandel
How did your first surfing experience
come about? When and who with? It was probably when I was about 12 with one of my parents good mates Ross Liggins down at Buffalo Beach.
Tell us about the local surf conditions, how often you get to surf and where are
your favourite local breaks? The local surf conditions at home are your classic East Coast; wait 3 weeks for a surfable wave but when we get swell there's so many options within 30 min drive we get good waves. In Rags, where I go to school, we get to surf every day and most of the time the surf is pumping. My favourite wave locally would be Ruapuke because it’s such a good beach break when it’s on and we have been lucky enough to get it heaps in the last year or so.
The best waves you've ever scored on
your local coastline? The best waves I have ever scored at home was probably Cyclone Cook last year, every spot at home pumped and it was in the school holidays so me and my mates surfed all day, every day for the whole swell. Also, Cyclone Pam was nuts.
You’ve attended the Raglan Surf Academy for several years; how does this set-up help your surfing while at the same time
keeping your schooling priority? We get to surf multiple times every day which improves your surfing just by itself, then we get filmed and coached every day by Larry and Deane so we can analyse our technique and on top of that we are training 3 times a week. But if we aren't up to date with our school work we can't surf, we have to stay behind after lunch while everyone else goes surfing in the bus and do work which sucks haha. So, we make sure we are nailing our school work so we don't miss out. All the teachers at Raglan Area are legends and so helpful with school so they make it easy to keep up.
With Raglan being your base and NZ’s most consistent and famous break, this puts you in touch with many of the country’s best surfers as well as visitors, who locally inspires you that you see on a regular basis? I'd say the locals who inspire me the most are Billy Stairmand, Larry Fisher, Bugsy, DK, Luke Hughes and Sid West.
Who has been the best visiting surfer you
have seen at your local breaks? Oh it probably would have been last year me, Jack and Kaleb got to surf fun as light onshore Indies with Chippa Wilson and Nate Tyler which was crazy watching them do the craziest punts.
What else do you get up to when not
surfing? Not too much haha hang with the boys and just eat and go surfing again if we aren't at school.
Who do you surf with most? I'd surf the most with Jack, Caleb, Mini Hutch, Connor, Oosh, Zayn, and Alex.
What does surfing mean to you? Surfing means everything, other than family and friends, surfing has taken over haha.
Where would you like to take your surf
ing? I just want to get as good as I can, surf as much as I can and train hard. I'd love to win competitions nationally and go overseas and compete internationally, do QS's and give it a good crack.
Life's highlights? Going to the academy would probably be my life highlight at the moment, it's so sick and I never would have thought I could be good mates with Taylor Hutch and Caleb Cutmore, they were like my idols. Your favourite NZ waves and why? There's so many good waves at home that are hands down my favourite, but away from home probably Ruapuke because of how good we have had it with not many people out, Stockroute Wainui, because of how it breaks and how perfect it gets, Stent Road cause it’s an epic right point and Manu Bay because even though we surf it every day and it can get a little boring, it has so many moods and pumps quite a lot. Favourite Surfers from NZ and Overseas? My favourite surfers in NZ are Bobby Hansen, Billy Stairmand, Ricardo, Jack Lee and my favourite surfers from overseas would be Mick, Griffin, Kolohe and Jack Robinson.
Ever surfed overseas? And where? Nah I haven't surfed overseas yet and can't wait to do it.
The biggest wave you've ever surfed? I wouldn't have a clue what the biggest one is haha not that big yet.
Your dream surf trip? Dream surf trip would be to Mexico to those sand bottom right points with a few close mates, those points look mental. Shoutouts to your biggest supporters: First of all, biggest shout out to mum and dad for everything, you guys are the best. Grandma, Gran and Grandy for being the best grandparents ever, Uncle Jud for teaching me how to surf, Larry and Deane for being legends, Julian and Tangaroa for being crack up mates, Jack for being my idol and putting up with me haha, Levi for being a big brother to me and inspiring me. To Rach and Aza for looking after in Rags and being legendary host parents. And lastly big thanks to Cory and NZ Surfing Mag for having me!
Coming from a beach break background on the East Coast Jay has fallen in love with the black sand sandbars out West. Photo: Cory