26 May Nayland student sets the New Zealand record for recalling Pi

Fynn Sawyer captures Blake Winstanley's victory in the Nayland Pi Challenge.

Nayland student Blake Winstanley became the school Pi champion after correctly writing Pi to 2893 digits on Friday. Blake’s score also set a new national record, almost doubling the previous record of 1508.

Blake’s record attempt was a part of the annual Nayland College Pi Challenge, where Nayland students 11109160_1128062383877945_8659659449576751256_ocompete at recalling Pi to win house points. Blake won the senior trophy for the second year in a row, but he was disappointed with a mistake he made at 2893 digits. “I’m happy I? bet? the New Zealand record but I didn’t do as well as I could have, so there’s always the lingering disappointment there. I made one mistake at 2893 and other than that I had no mistakes until 3040.”


The Year 13 student had been practicing Pi for around two hours a night since February. He broke the digits up into thousand groups and recited each at a time, describing it as something “anyone can do, you just need dedication.” Going into Friday’s challenge, he was afraid of his memory failing him. “I had the fear of going brain-dead and didn’t trust my memory”.

He said he had had amazing support going into the competition. “People would just come up to me during school and ask me how many digits I was up to,’ he explained. However Blake kept his progress ? a closely guarded secret, with many people only finding out on the day how far he could go. He was supported by a hushed crowd on the day who were ecstatic once they knew Blake had unofficially taken the New Zealand title.

However, Blake isn’t finished with Pi just yet. “I’m not at my peak yet, so I’m going to see how far I can go.”

Video credit: Oonagh Graham.