New Zealand National Championships
Upsets Bust Men’s Division Apart at National Championships
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 9 January, 2018 - A day of major upsets at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships has seen the demise of five time defending champion Billy Stairmand (Rag), 2017 runner up Taylor Hutchison (Rag) and perennial local favourite Maz Quinn as the final eight surfers are confirmed in the Open Men’s Division.
Day three of the event saw Ricardo Christie (Gis) emerge from the carnage to remain firm favourite to claim his second title. Christie is the only title holder left in the men’s draw. In much the same fashion, Gabriella Sansom is the only title holder within the four surfers left in the Women’s Division.
Conditions varied throughout the day at Makorori Beach with a clean 1.0m swell and light winds giving way to moderate sea breezes by lunch time ruffling surface conditions and affecting the quality of the waves.
Christie exited his Quarterfinal match up dubbed ‘the heat of death’ in first place with a 12.2 point heat total advancing alongside Johnny Hicks (Gis) in second. Christie was unaware of the upsets in the heat prior to his after he returned to shore post-heat.
“Wow, really? I guess both Maz and Billy getting knocked out of the event does open up the field” Christie said. “But it actually shows that you have to get two good waves in your heats and that there are still seven other guys in the event that can easily do that” he added.
Christie felt that his surfing was not at his best today, in part due to the conditions he was confronted with but he is comfortable heading into the second half of the week and is looking to surf as much as possible in between the event to find form.
It was Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha) and Nick White (Mnt) that created the upset over Quinn while New Zealand representative Paul Moretti (Mimiwhangata) and Levi Stewart (Waihi Beach) claimed the scalp of Stairmand in the heat prior.
“It was awesome surfing with Levi in that heat, we have competed all through the junior ranks and it was awesome to get the opportunity to make it through to the semifinals together”. It is Moretti’s first domestic event in several months and he admitted to nerves being a factor but hopes to surf those out over the coming days of the event.
The fourth winner of the Quarterfinals was Dunedin surfer Elliott Brown who posted a 14.27 point heat total to win his heat and advance alongside Piha’s Zen Wallis.
“I am stoked to make it this far really” said the 17 year old surfer who claimed the 2017 award for Most Outstanding Performance. “I would like to get similar results to last year, especially with the strong field of surfers that are here in Gisborne with the likes of Ricardo and all the Gisborne surfers competing”.
A trio of fervent juniors have advanced to the final of the Open Women’s Division as they look to topple Albany’s Gabriella Sansom and claim their first title. Local Saffi Vette and Mount Maunganui surfers Elin Tawharu and Raiha Ensor all advanced through to the final.
Ensor left her run late but an 8.9 point ride for two powerful backhand turns in the dying seconds of her heat pushed her well into the lead.
“I was happy with that last wave because I was struggling out there until then, I was getting some waves but was not surfing well” said Ensor. “So it was good to get that last wave and give me some confidence” she added.
“This will be my first final in the Open Women’s Division so I am looking forward to it”.
For Sansom, it is all about avoiding the pressure of the young girls chomping at her feet. Sansom herself is only 21 years old despite winning her national title three years ago and seeming somewhat a veteran against her younger opponents.
“It adds a little bit of pressure I guess, I am just stoked to get into the final so we will see where it goes from here” said Sansom.
The swell is expected to remain around the 1.0m mark for day four of the event on Wednesday. The longboard divisions will be added to the agenda as well as several junior divisions who will surf for the first time at the event.
The draw for the premier Open Men’s and Women’s Divisions plus juniors can be found on the Surfing New Zealand website.