Gisborne’s Nathan Welch took down the very surfers that he's looked up to all his life and won the Surfing New Zealand Pro held at Mount Maunganui’s Tay Street this weekend. To win, Welch had to surpass the likes of Maz Quinn (Gis) and Bobby Hansen (Gis) in the final of the event to claim his first ever Open Men’s Division win on the Corona Crown Series.

The win comes off the back of some great form that saw him place third at the most recent event held in Whangamata. Welch was one of three surfers who took their maiden victory this weekend with Grace Spiers (WGM) winning the Women’s Division and Keone Campbell (Tara) winning the Under 18 Men’s.

Welch was almost speechless after his 12.50 point win. Big turns and aerial manoeuvres sealed his victory with his best wave scoring 7.50. His innovative surfing separated him from the other four finalists to clinch a very important title. “I have started up surfing the national events again after competing in Australia for a while and I am stoked with how things have been going," he said. "This weekend just tops it off – I am stoked." When asked about taking down his heroes, he had only kind words for Maz and Bobby: “I look up to those guys big time. They are such good surfers and they compete on the WQS all the time and do real well so I am so stoked to beat those guys".

Welch’s win came at the expense of Bobby Hansen who placed second. Hansen looked explosive but couldn’t manage to find the waves that offered up the high scores finishing with a heat total of 11.40. Maz Quinn had to settle with what looked to be a frustrating third place. Cleary unhappy with his performance, Quinn was only a good wave away from winning the event but that wave never emerged in the challenging 1.0m waves at Tay Street.

Whangamata’s AJ Matthews perhaps had the best chance at catching Welch after scoring a 6.75 early in the final. However opting to sit out the back and wait for the bigger waves proved costly when the tide pushed in and the waves stopped breaking for the rest of the heat. In a cruel twist of fate, a big set of waves rolled through the line up only seconds after the final hooter sounded which would have had Matthews challenging for the lead.

With one event remaining on the Corona Crown Series, Nathan Welch moves into second place behind Daniel Kereopa who was eliminated in the quarterfinals today. The top 16 surfers after the next event of the series are invited to the prestigious Corona Super 16 to finish the season.

Grace Spiers (WGM) became one of the youngest surfers to ever win the Women’s Division of a national event in New Zealand today. The fourteen year old surfer stormed to victory aided by a great 7.75 point ride near the end of the final. Spiers predominantly contests the under 14 girls events around the country and has only recently made the jump into the Open Women’s to gain experience.

However today’s well deserved win puts her up amongst the top surfers in New Zealand. She totalled 12.50 in the final to win out over the three local girls. Laura Rishworth placed second for her career best result with Hester Sutherland-Stacey in third and Michelle Langdon in fourth.

Taranaki’s Keone Campbell convincingly took out the Under 18 Boys Division and claimed his first ever win on the Corona Crown Series. Scoring 15.25 in the final he left the rest of the surfers requiring near perfect scores to catch him. Campbell scored a 7.50 and a 6.00 to take the lead. Then he caught a long right-hander where he executed several smooth turns all the way down the beach to post an excellent 8.25 to extend his lead.

Local Matt Hewitt, Billy Stairmand (Rag) and Paco Divers (Sandy Bay) were all locked in a close battle for second but is was the local boy Hewitt that claimed it scoring 11.0 ahead of Stairmand in third and Paco Divers in fourth. Divers maintains his ratings lead with his result, Ryan Hawker jumps one place to second and Matt Hewitt now sits in third.

Final results from the Surfing New Zealand Pro – event three of the Corona Crown Series.

Surfing New Zealand Pro Open Men's Finals

Nathan Welch (Gis), 1

Bobby Hansen (Gis), 2

Maz Quinn (Gis), 3

AJ Matthews (Whmata), 4

Surfing New Zealand Pro Under 18 Boys Finals

Keone Campbell (Tara), 1

Matt Hewitt (Mnt), 2

Billy Stairmand (Rag), 3

Paco Divers (Sandy Bay), 4

Surfing New Zealand Pro Women’s Finals

Grace Spiers (WGM), 1

Laura Rishworth (Mnt), 2

Hester Sutherland-Stacey (Mnt), 3

Michelle Langdon (Mnt), 4

www.surfingnz.co.nz