Yesterday I watched Daniel Kereopa, the 2015 Ultimate Waterman Champion, collapse to his knees after completing the 16th kilometer of the SUP endurance race. His face was writhing with pain, his legs pulsing with cramps. As each of the other competitors crossed the finish line, they looked to see how they could help Kereopa, who was sprawled on the floor, glowing with discomfort.
The scene was par for the course at the 2nd Annual Ultimate Waterman Competition in New Zealand. It’s equal parts pain, camaraderie, and competition. That, coupled with the fact that the competitors are all unabashedly committed to understanding and appreciating the ocean in every conceivable incarnation, has made this event a rite of passage for any athlete serious about proving his salt as a waterman.
“I have been training for this event all of my life without knowing about The Ultimate Waterman,” Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer won three of this year’s six events, taking the top spot in longboard, prone paddleboard, and standup paddleboard contests. Danny Ching, who placed second, won the outrigger canoe and underwater strength run and swim. Kereopa won the shortboard division, and Connor Baxter won the SUP Endurance paddle, respectively.
“Last year I was so bummed watching the event and not being part of it, it hurt. And this year I got a late call up a couple of weeks before it started and now I hope I have proven that I deserved the call up.”
“I know there are a lot of other athletes out there that suit this event, and I look forward to the event growing and learning off these guys when they become part of it. This event truly broadens a surfer’s horizons beyond what they are used to, it makes them step outside of their comfort zone and try new things. That’s what I love about it,” said Schweitzer.
1st Zane Schweitzer (HAW)
2nd Danny Ching (USA)
3rd Daniel Kereopa (NZL)
4th Connor Baxter (HAW)
5th Mark Visser (AUS)
6th Caio Vaz (BRA)
7th Manoa Drollet (TAH)
8th Kala Alexander (HAW)
View daily video recaps from the event below: