Christie on Form in Hyundai National Surfing Championships
Richard Christie (Gis) continued to impress on day five of the Hyundai National Surfing Championships yesterday as the youngest of the Quinn brothers Jay, fell apart and was eliminated from the event. Christie scored the highest heat score of the Open Men’s division to date with 17.50 out of a possible 20.
Attacking every wave like it was his last, Christie posted an excellent 9.0 and then an 8.5 which had the other three competitors requiring in excess of a perfect ten point ride to catch him. Christie seems un-phased about the mounting pressure as he heads toward the final stages of the event “Yeah I am stoked on that heat score, the waves were good out there and I found the waves that ran down the point and allowed me to do the best turns" commented Christie.
Christie will now face defending national champion Maz Quinn (Gis) in the first semifinal after he progressed in second place today behind current Corona Crown Series ratings leader Zennor Wernham. However, Quinn’s performance was no less impressive than previous days scoring 14.60 in his heat. It was just the Wernham posted an amazing 9.0 point ride on his first wave and dominated the heat from the outset.
While not winning his heat Maz did considerably better than bother Jay who was unable to find anything close to his opponents and to the contrary of Christie required an impossible 10.11 ride to progress when the final hooter sounded. Jay will have to wait another year for a title but Maz maintains his focus on the job. The change in venue to ‘Graveyards’, a left hand point break, proved to be anything but for Quinn’s campaign for a fifth New Zealand title.
Daniel Kereopa (Rag) found some form on the lefts today and like fellow Raglan surfers Wernham, Billy Stairmand and Leon Santorik, relished the chance to surf a break more like the famous lefthand points of Raglan.
Kereopa scored the highest wave of the day – a 9.75 and only surfed two waves in his twenty minute heat to post a total of 16.75 and progress in first place ahead of local surfer, 1992 national champion Motu Mataa. Mataa was one of two surfers to make the final eight with the other surfer being the in form Simon Deken who again won his heat yesterday scoring 14.25 to progress in first place ahead of Stairmand in quarterfinal number three.
Earlier the Hyundai Open Women’s Division got underway for the first time at the event and it was not without upsets. The four heats were the last to be completed at Stent Road before the wind played too much havoc with the surface conditions making it near impossible to surf. Number one seed Jessica Santorik (Rag) played out a two horse race with Daisy Thomas (Chch) to progress.
Thomas surfed brilliantly stringing several great turns together down the point and scored 7.75 on her best wave. Local girl Paige Hareb top scored in the first round with 16.75 showing everyone how it is done on her home turf but fellow Australasian Pro Junior competitor Mischa Davis (Piha) did not enjoy the same luck placing fourth in her heat and being eliminated from the event.
Davis only required a small score (2.61) to progress as did Gisborne’s Jessica Welch (1.86) but the elements worked against them both with Angie Koops (Kaik) and Thandi Durham (Tara) moving through to the finals.
The Breakers Under 18 boys were surfed to the final four yesterday and Mount Maunganui’s Tim O’Conner emerged as the favourite to win the division after scoring 16.75 in his semifinal. O’Conner’s toughest competition appears to be coming from Billy Stairmand who along with his semifinals berth in the Hyundai Open Men’s is punching above his weight heat upon heat.
Stairmand posted 14.0 to win his heat and continue a successful day for Raglan surfers. The two surfers will meet Paco Divers (Sandy Bay) and Sean Peggs (Tairua) in the final.
The forecast for today is still looking good with a slight decrease in swell and the strong offshore winds abating.