The race for the top sixteen places on the Corona Crown Surfing Series is open wider than ever leading into the last event this weekend – the Rip Curl Pro to be held at Manu Bay in Raglan, New Zealand, from 2-4th March. The top 30 surfers in the open men’s division can mathematically make the top 16 with an excellent result at this event.

Only nine of last years top 16 surfers are currently sitting pretty in the top 16 giving the top ranks a fresh look. After the Rip Curl Pro the top 16 surfers are invited to contest the final event of the series – the Corona Super 16 to be held at Piha Beach Auckland on the 10th of March. Night surfing will again feature at Manu Bay on the Friday night. Eight temporary lighting towers a clean small swell predicted will again make for entertaining viewing once the sun sets.

Daniel Kereopa (Rag) is the run away leader on the Corona Crown Series with only a major upset in his first heat and a win by his closest rival Nathan Welch (Gis) giving the possibility of a slide down the ratings. Welch won the most recent event of the series – the Surfing New Zealand Pro held at Mount Maunganui and is in excellent form. With smaller waves predicted for the Saturday and Sunday and a potential move to the beach breaks, Welch could again feature heavily.

Zennor Wernham (Rag) currently sits third on the ratings and being on home turf for this event will work in his favour. Wernham is as good as mechanical when he surfs Manu Bay and this weekends conditions could also suit him well.

Maz Quinn (Gis) who currently sits in fourth place has opted not to surf this event after also passing up his wildcard entry into the trials of the first World Championship Tour event of the year in Australia this week. Only a horrid run of events would see Quinn not gain a top 16 slot and invitation to next weekends event.

Jessica Santorik (Rag) has maintained her lead in the open women’s despite getting the wobbles last weekend at the Rip Curl Women’s Open where she was eliminated in the quarterfinals. Paige Hareb (Tara) with her win at the event jumped from fifth to second on the ratings having only competed in three of the five events contested so far.

Kara Stephenson (Rag) and Claire Thomsen (Gis) round out the top four female surfers but a number of girls will be looking to knock them off their perch including current national champion Wini Paul (Sandy Bay), Daisy Thomas (Chch) and Laura Rishworth (Mnt).

The under 18 junior division which runs a calendar year sees Paco Divers (Sandy Bay) holding down first place over Ryan Hawker (Piha). The two surfers have travelled back and forth over the Tasman all year competing near on every weekend. They will also travel together in the New Zealand Junior Team which tours to Portugal in May this year.

Below these two surfers are another five that are all capable of winning the Rip Curl Pro this weekend. Winner of the last event – Keone Campbell (Tara) will want to keep his momentum going along with local surfers Billy Stairmand and Sean Peggs who will be wanting to secure good results to push themselves up the ratings.

The national finals of the Rip Curl GromSearch also takes place again this year with the winner of the boys and girls divisions winning a trip to the international final held at Bells Beach Australia during the Rip Curl Pro WCT event held at Easter. The winners of the Under 16 Boys and Girls Divisions from each of the four events held in 2006 received an invite to the national final.

The national final sees Paco Divers (Sandy Bay), Ryan Hawker (Piha), Matt Hewitt (Mnt) and Johnny Hicks (Gis) contest the boys division. In the girls we will see Paige Hareb (Tara), Alexis Poulter (Piha), Annie Stuart (Auck), Nicola Colson-Koster (Auck), line up for the prestigious first prize.

Below are the current top 30 men and 10 women surfers on the 2006/07 Corona Crown Surfing Series. The top 16 male surfers and top four female surfers qualify for the Corona Super 16 to be staged at Piha Beach, Auckland on the 10th of March.

Open Men

1, Daniel Kereopa (Rag)

2, Nathan Welch (Gis)

3, Zennor Wernham (Rag)

4, Maz Quinn (Gis)

5, Leon Santorik (Rag)

6, Paco Divers (Sandy Bay)

7, Luke Cederman (Rag)|

8, Nick White (Mnt)

9, Justin Souter (Mnt)

10, Ryan Hawker (Piha)

11, Gauranga Ormond (Whmata)

12, Dean Amess (Whmata)

13, AJ Matthews (Whmata)

14, Jarrod Hancox (Tara)

15, Blair Stewart (Gis)

16, Bobby Hansen (Gis)

17, Billy Stairmand (Rag)

18, Mark Dovey (Mnt)

19, Simon Deken (Tara)

20, Richard Christie (Mahia)

21, Damon Gunness (Gis)

22, Motu Mataa (Tara)

23, Ben Kennings (Whmata)

24, Mike Banks (Rag)

25, Felix Dickson (Ota)

26, Keone Campbell (Tara)

27, David Van Staden (Rag)

28, Tim O'Connor (Mnt)

29, Jay Quinn (Gis)

30, Kierin Van Der Helder (Rag)

Open Women

1, Jessica Santorik (Rag)

2, Paige Hareb (Tara)

3, Kara Stephenson (Rag)

4, Claire Thomson (Gis)

5, Laura Rishworth (Mnt)

6, Grace Spiers (Whmata)

7, Thandi Durham (Tara)

8, Michelle Langdon (Mnt)

9, Wini Paul (Sandy Bay)

10, Daisy Thomas (ChCh)

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