The Ultimate Waterman has won the Innovation Excellence Award at the annual New Zealand Sport and Recreation Awards in Wellington, New Zealand last night.
The event, which has the support of the New Zealand government and ATEED, was recognised for its X-factor and the positive influence it has on New Zealand’s reputation as a world-class event destination.
The Ultimate Waterman was conceived by Surfing New Zealand’s Chief Executive Greg Townsend, who had the vision to develop a brand-new global event to find the world’s best, all-round waterman surfing champion.
The event provides a media vehicle to promote New Zealand as a destination through content such as the documentary commissioned by international media partner Red Bull Media House using New Zealand production company AJS Films.
Greg Townsend, Chief Executive of The Ultimate Waterman and Surfing NZ says the award is sweet recognition for years of hard work.
“I started working on turning this idea into reality back in 2011 with the help of some of New Zealand’s top businessmen and international surfing heavy weights, Hawaiians Laird Hamilton, Titus Kinimaka and Australian Joel Parkinson,” says Townsend.
“With the help of guys like this plus our commercial partners who recognised the potential in the idea, we are now approaching our third event in a very strong position.”
“We now have global attention, athletes are knocking on our door to participate and doors are opening up for growth,” says Townsend.
Townsend says a number of challenges were faced in the early stages such as gaining funding, securing the international athletes and getting an international media partner on board.
“My advice for people who have ideas like this is to have clear vision for the event that lives beyond the first few years, strong objectives and benefits for partners to invest in.”
“If you believe in the idea, keep at it. Relationships with like minded people are equally important,” says Townsend.
Peter Miskimmin, Chief Executive of Sport NZ, says the Ultimate Waterman is a great example of innovative kiwi thinking.
“It brings together sport and tourism with a strong media partner to create a win for everyone. The really great thing is it’s New Zealand created and New Zealand owned,” says Mr Miskimmin.
Planning is now underway for the 2017 event.