Maz Quinn showed his full hand of cards in the Hyundai National Surfing Championships yesterday, winning what was claimed to be the best heat of the event to date. With the win, Quinn moves through to the final in the Open Men’s division, remaining on target to take his fifth national title.
Quinn’s semifinal was as good as it gets in terms of high performance. Raglan’s Leon Santorik opened up the twenty minute heat with an amazing 8.0 point ride completing the tightest forehand turns. Then without hesitation he snatched a wave from under his competitor’s noses and scored his highest ride of 8.5 and took a commanding lead.
The two favoured surfers Quinn and Richard Christie had their work cut out but the heat was by no means over. Quinn posted a 7.25 before unleashing on the Stent Road line up with three of the biggest turns of the event to score 9.5 and take the lead.
“Leon (Santoik) paddled around me for his best wave so I made a big tactical error at the start,” said Quinn. “Then I ‘stole’ my best wave off him to score that 9.5, so in a way I got my own back. I didn’t hear the scores being read out at the start of the heat so I wasn’t aware of my position or the pressure I was under prior to that wave, but this probably worked in my favour.”
Richard Christie had a slow start to the heat, falling on a couple of waves before getting stuck into his work. First he posted a 7.10 to climb back into contention and the race was on with four minutes remaining. Needing a 9.41 to progress Christie exploded with the most innovative manoeuvre of the event – a powerful frontside re-entry busting out above the lip and coming straight back down onto the wave.
The complete wave scored 9.35, agonisingly close but not enough to progress. As the form surfer of the event many thought Christie could have gone all the way but the polished performance of Quinn and the ‘heat of a lifetime’ Santorik completed blew out those hopes. Raglan’s Zennor Wernham placed fourth in the heat with a credible 13.25 point heat score.
The second semifinal had a lot to live up to and while it was not as explosive as the first, the heat was surfed down to the wire with 1.25 points separating first from fourth. Less consistent waves hampered the heat but it was Daniel Kereopa (Rag) and Motu Mataa (Tara) that pushed through to the final both scoring strongly with 13.75 total heat scores.
Kereopa was selective, opting to surf only two waves, the same amount that he surfed in his quarterfinal. The tactic is clear with Kereopa realising that the only way he can win his first national title is by catching the best waves available. The two surfers eliminated the event dark horse and local standout Simon Deken (Tara) and junior finalist Billy Stairmand (Rag).
Earlier in the day the Hyundai Open Women relished the chance to surf perfect Stent Road in their semifinal heats. Leon Santorik obviously got the inspiration for his performance after younger sister Jessica was the first to advance into the final four surfers of the women. Santorik scored 16.60 in her heat with a number of radical top turns on her less favoured backhand.
Sandy Bay’s Wini Paul moved through to the final in a close second place scoring 15.5 taking a liking to the righthanders. Daisy Thomas continued her excellent form winning the second semifinal ahead of local favourite Paige Hareb. Thomas scored 14.75 in her heat with smooth surfing, linking big turns and floaters right down the point. Hareb placed second close behind with a top scoring ride of 7.25 compared with Thomas’ 8.00 to eliminate Kara Stephenson and Thandi Durham (Tara).
The finalists were found in the Hyundai longboard division this afternoon with local powerhouse Jason Matthews advancing in first place ahead of defending champion Michael Fitzharris (Gis). Matthews scored 13.50 compared with 13.00 from Fitzharris. Matthews is a previous national champion in the division having won the event in 1994.
After the second semifinal Fitzharris became the sole surfer in the final that permanently rides a longboard when Jay Quinn (Gis) and Daniel Kereopa (Rag) won out over Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck) and Ant McColl (Mnt).
Quinn scored the highest heat score of the event with 18.0. His performance was highlighted by the second perfect ten point ride of the event when he smashed a wave to bits more like he was surfing his shorter board. Kereopa was not far behind scoring 16.75 for his total heat score.
The forecast for today is not looking as good as the past five days with a decrease in swell and westerly quarter winds predicted.