New Zealand Surfing - - Between Sets -

It wasn’t that long ago, 2010 in fact, when a ram­pag­ing kid from Brazil blew the world away here on our own shores out at South Piha and won the ISA World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships with such com­mand­ing form that within ten min­utes of a 30-minute fi­nal he had built such an unas­sail­able lead that he started play­ing around, blow­ing the minds of all present with the best surf­ing ever wit­nessed on our shores. Fast for­ward 10 years that grom, by the name of Gabriel Me­d­ina, has ce­mented him­self as one of the best surfers in the world and was crowned World Cham­pion in 2014, but his in­put into the sport has grown far more than as an ath­lete. In Jan­uary of this year Gabriel launched the ‘In­sti­tuto Gabriel Me­d­ina’ with the sup­port of his spon­sors, a fa­cil­ity cre­ated to de­velop ath­letes and surf­ing cham­pi­ons, but also pro­mote a healthy life­style and aca­demic stud­ies. And even bet­ter the fa­cil­ity is lo­cated on the beach front of Mare­sias Beach. By way of win­ning the NZ Grom­search fi­nal two of our top ju­nior surfers, Caleb Cut­more and Elin Tawharu found them­selves jet set­ting across the globe to com­pete in the Rip Curl World Grom­Search Fi­nal in Me­d­i­nas home town of Mare­sias, where they not only got to rub shoulders with the man him­self, but they each com­peted against the best eight groms from around the world and were put through their paces at Me­d­i­nas In­sti­tute. We caught up with Waikato grom Caleb to pick his thoughts on the ex­pe­ri­ence. “Mak­ing our way to Brazil meant a se­ries of su­per long flights, but once we ar­rived we felt su­per wel­come and were picked up by the lo­cal Rip Curl crew. It was very spe­cial and a huge hon­our for me to at­tend such an event, and to meet a guy like Gabriel Me­d­ina and to get to see and ex­pe­ri­ence what he’s do­ing for the kids and the sport back in Brazil was a mas­sive eye opener. Al­though Me­d­ina is like a su­per­star and one of my idols he was re­ally ap­proach­able and seemed like a great guy. For him to host that comp and make him­self avail­able for us groms from all around the world when he has such a busy sched­ule him­self, shows that he is pas­sion­ate about the suc­cess of surf­ing as a sport and giv­ing back. I was priv­i­leged to surf with him and that was mind blow­ing! I just sat back and was in awe at the things he could do.” While the main pur­pose of the trip for both Caleb and Elin was to com­pete in the World Grom­Search Fi­nal, Caleb was su­per en­cour­aged from what he saw as to the stan­dard of the rest of the world in com­par­i­son to our surfers back home. “I was re­ally sur­prised to see that NZ is not too far be­hind at all. I think Amer­ica and Aus­tralia were the stand­outs, it was pretty tight be­tween us other coun­tries, we just need to stick at it and at­tend the best com­pe­ti­tions to grow.” As part of the trip the groms had the op­por­tu­nity to spend some time train­ing un­der ex­pert tute­lage at the Me­d­ina In­sti­tute, where they were shown the im­por­tance of be­ing pre­pared un­der the guid­ance of Me­d­ina’s per­sonal coach and get­ting to wit­ness first-hand the train­ing pro­cesses of those that at­tend the In­sti­tute. “We were shown how to warm up and pre­pare the body for peak per­for­mance in the surf, once we fired up the body we went across the road and sim­u­lated some heat surf­ing. To see how they train over there was an eye opener, while they are work­ing on the phys­i­cal and men­tal strength, they are also surf­ing heats and train­ing ev­ery sin­gle day again and again and they were all so strong com­pet­i­tively. By the time a com­pe­ti­tion comes around they have surfed hun­dreds of heats while back home we may not have surfed a heat for months. That’s the one thing I will take most from the trip just to be­come more or­gan­ised and pre­pare bet­ter.”

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