'Surfing is for life'

From left are Benny Hutchings (71), John Gisby (64), Ross Moodie (69) and Chris Ransley (67). Their combined ages comes to the impressive figure of 271. Picture by Paul Rickard

ACCLAIMED sports columnist Bruce Jenkins wrote in the introduction to his book North Shore Chronicles: Big Wave Surfing In Hawaii that “surfing is for life”.

While he was referring in some part to the dangers of taking on Hawaii’s famous (and infamous) Shore, the quote could easily transfer to this group of ocean lovers, who duked it out in an all-local heat in the over-60s age division at the national championships at Makorori Beach yesterday.

Benny Hutchings (71), John Gisby (64), Ross Moodie (69) and Chris Ransley (67) are respected identities in the surfing community, with Hutchings and Gisby regarded as legends of the sport.

Aussie import Hutchings won the open title in Gisborne in 1975, and that same year won the open ironman at the surf lifesaving nationals, and was a renowned big wave rider.

He became a successful kayaking coach at the highest level, including the famous 1984 Olympic Games multiple medal-winning New Zealand team featuring Gisborne’s own Alan Thompson and Grant Bramwell, before shifting to Australia where he continued a distinguished coaching career that won him the Order of Australia Medal in 2015.

Gisby is one of the greats of age group surfing at the nationals. He won his first senior title in 1984 and has amassed an incredible 36 titles in all. He won one or two age group crowns every year from 1992 to 2010.

Ransley also appears on the national championship honours board back in 1969 when he won the under-18 division at New Plymouth.

Gisby won yesterday’s heat with a score of 13.5 out of 20 for his two best waves. Ransley (9.9) also advanced to the semifinals, along with fellow Gisborne surfers Spring Thompson and Graham Breckell, Whakatane’s Tony Ogilvy and Whangarei’s Rupert Newbold.

Meanwhile Gisborne’s George Zame claimed the first title of the champs yesterday. He won the under-18 longboard final, thanks to a 7.1 ride late in the final.



ACCLAIMED sports columnist Bruce Jenkins wrote in the introduction to his book North Shore Chronicles: Big Wave Surfing In Hawaii that “surfing is for life”.

While he was referring in some part to the dangers of taking on Hawaii’s famous (and infamous) Shore, the quote could easily transfer to this group of ocean lovers, who duked it out in an all-local heat in the over-60s age division at the national championships at Makorori Beach yesterday.

Benny Hutchings (71), John Gisby (64), Ross Moodie (69) and Chris Ransley (67) are respected identities in the surfing community, with Hutchings and Gisby regarded as legends of the sport.

Aussie import Hutchings won the open title in Gisborne in 1975, and that same year won the open ironman at the surf lifesaving nationals, and was a renowned big wave rider.

He became a successful kayaking coach at the highest level, including the famous 1984 Olympic Games multiple medal-winning New Zealand team featuring Gisborne’s own Alan Thompson and Grant Bramwell, before shifting to Australia where he continued a distinguished coaching career that won him the Order of Australia Medal in 2015.

Gisby is one of the greats of age group surfing at the nationals. He won his first senior title in 1984 and has amassed an incredible 36 titles in all. He won one or two age group crowns every year from 1992 to 2010.

Ransley also appears on the national championship honours board back in 1969 when he won the under-18 division at New Plymouth.

Gisby won yesterday’s heat with a score of 13.5 out of 20 for his two best waves. Ransley (9.9) also advanced to the semifinals, along with fellow Gisborne surfers Spring Thompson and Graham Breckell, Whakatane’s Tony Ogilvy and Whangarei’s Rupert Newbold.

Meanwhile Gisborne’s George Zame claimed the first title of the champs yesterday. He won the under-18 longboard final, thanks to a 7.1 ride late in the final.



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John Phin, Auckland - 1 month ago
I was a surfer in the late '60s and remember when an Australian junior surfer taught Alan Byrne to do back-hand re-entries in 1968! Though not part of the "in-crowd", I listened and soon could do it too!
I am surprised Chris Ransley is not higher on the Honours Board. He was runner-up Junior Champion in 1969 but beat the legendary late Alan Byrne to take the Dell Trophy that year in New Plymouth!
My claim to fame is that I won the Gisborne marathon at 19.
Gisborne is a wonderful place!
Can I purchase the above photo?

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