Conor Mclennan is living every young surfers dream – hitting the school books in the morning and riding waves in the afternoon.
The Raglan Surf Academy student recently won the under-18 title at the national surfing championships in Gisborne.
Originating from Waimairi Beach, Conor, 17, represented his home club, North Wai Boardriders, in the competition.
He moved to Raglan in 2016 to start at the academy. The programme is part of Raglan Area School and was set up in 1998.
It allows students to complete NCEA while learning about surfing both in and out of the classroom.
“We write reports about surfing, the safety of surfing and trying to get out to surf breaks, then every lunchtime we will finish up and go surfing. It’s a great life, I love it,” said Conor. The national final came down to a tight finish, which Conor said made time go by “very, very slowly.”
“It was the best feeling ever, I don’t think words can describe how stoked I was to win that, I’ve been working so hard for it for the last year and it all paid off. It’s a really good way for me to start the year,” he said.
His parents watched on from the beach. “It was a very cool feeling to win in front of my mum and dad . . . to win in front of them was probably the greatest feeling of it all,” he said.
The former Christchurch Boys’ High School student won another national title in 2014 at the national scholastic secondary schools championship.
He was also the under-17 Billabong grom series champion last year. Conor is already looking ahead to the future, hoping to secure himself a spot in the New Zealand under-18 junior worlds team, which he narrowing missed out on last year, making a reserve spot.
“This year I’m going all out for it,” he said.
After finishing year 13, Conor wants to work towards gaining sponsorship and competing in some qualifying series events.