Organisation has been the key for Mount Maunganui surfer Anna Brock, as she finally gets to represent New Zealand on the world stage.
The 18-year-old is heading to Rio de Janeiro for this month’s ISA World Junior surfing championships, alongside 15-year-old Bay Boardriders teammate and Tauranga Boys’ College star Tao Mouldey.
The pair are part of a 12-strong national team, selected earlier this year for their performances on the New Zealand junior circuit in the last 12 months.
Anna’s selection is particularly noteworthy – after two years of disappointment she was selected in 2021 but the world championships was cancelled due to Covid-19. Last year she was the non-traveling reserve.
Now in her first year studying commerce and food science at Otago University, the former Mount Maunganui College head girl has also had to juggle playing premier women’s hockey in Dunedin.
“It’s definitely a challenge fitting everything in, playing hockey and surfing, as well as my studies and fitting in other fitness activities like gym work and running,” says Anna. “I make it work – I have a schedule and write out every single day in half-hour blocks.”
And the freezing southern climate also isn’t enough to put her off the surf, though it does require some personal mind games.
“It’s a 15-minute drive to the beach from where I am in Dunedin and it means I basically have to commit to going and getting in the water. I can’t turn around, which is good in some ways!”
Anna started surfing at age six and began competing at 10. She completed a stellar junior career by winning the New Zealand Under-18 overall women’s series earlier this year. She’ll be joined in the NZ Under-18 division by Australia-based Tayla Green, who won the national championship title, and Whangamata’s Pia Rogers.
Tao, meanwhile, is the eldest of three surf-mad brothers, first taking to the water at age four after getting a foamie board from the surf shop down the road.
Tao's teammates in the Under-16 boys’ division will be Alexis Owen of Dunedin and Auckland’s Theo Morse. Tao’s hoping to build on his 17th-place finish at the junior worlds in El Salvador last year and has been putting in countless hours to give himself every chance.
“I try to surf every day and I think I’ve only missed a couple of days this year so far. I try to keep the body moving as much as I can and stay in shape – I notice it if I have a few days out of the water.”
Both locals admit the self-funded cost of getting to Brazil is steep – so they’ve both set up Givealittle pages to help defray the expenses.
Taranaki's Kalani Louis and Spencer Rowson headline the Under-18 boys, alongside Raglan’s Navryn Malone, while Alani Morse of Raglan, Leia Millar of Piha and 12-year-old Pauanui prodigy Lola Groube complete the Under-16 girls’ team.
As an IOC recognised event, New Zealand has been represented at ISA World Junior Championships since 2003 when the junior divisions were separated from the World Surfing Games.
It will be the 19th edition of the championship and the second time the event has been hosted by Brazil, after the 2006 Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship was held in Maresias. Two historic editions of the ISA World Surfing Games were also hosted by Brazil, the first of which was in Rio de Janeiro in 1994.
The best junior surfers from every part of the globe will contend for medals in this prestigious event that has proved itself as a direct pathway to the Olympic Games. Of the 40 surfers who took part in Tokyo 2020, 33 had previously participated in world junior championships, 16 of them claiming medals, including two-time ISA world junior champion Tatiana Weston-Webb (Brazil).
Women: Anna Brock (Mount Maunganui), Pia Rogers (Whangamata), Tayla Green (Australia).
Men: Kalani Louis (Taranaki), Navryn Malone (Raglan), Spencer Rowson (Taranaki).
Women: Alani Morse (Raglan), Leia Millar (Piha), Lola Groube (Pauanui).
Men: Alexis Owen (Dunedin), Tao Mouldey (Mount Maunganui), Theo Morse (Auckland).