Paige Hareb has put the pressure on herself to win the national surfing title at Auckland's Piha this week, in her first bid for the crown in 14 years.
“It's been brewing for 14 years so I won't be happy unless I win this week,” a bullish Hareb said.
Hareb is usually travelling the world on the pro league circuit, so seeing her competing on Aotearoa waves is a rare spectacle for Piha beachgoers and her competitors too, including the defending champion Ava Henderson.
“It's pretty insane, I've always looked up to Paige so it would be cool surfing, hopefully surfing heats against her,” Henderson said.
The Christchurch teen is hoping to defend her title against her idol.
“In the last comp I surfed against her and she smashed me, but ya know,” a laughing Henderson said.
With international competition on hold, the 30-year-old is still yet to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
“I’m just playing the waiting game and seeing what's going to happen this year and yeah just in limbo land,” Hareb said.
She finished second in her heat today, safely making it through to the next round despite the tricky conditions.
“I'm not worried about their age, but they're definitely getting better and that was still a hard heat and with conditions like today like anyone can win,” she said.