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Billabong Pro readies for take two at Whangamata, NZ


Matt Hewitt : photo Cory/NZ Surfing Magazine

Billabong Pro

Corona Crown Series
Whangamata New Zealand
6 - 8 March 2009

Billabong Pro Take Two

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 4 March, 2009 : - - After a false start to the Billabong Pro back in January, the East Coast of the North Island looks like it is going to be battered by one of the bigger swells of summer this weekend meaning the Billabong Pro to be staged at Whangamata is all go.

The three-day event commences on Friday 6th March and runs through until Sunday.  New Zealand’s top surfers who are currently out of the country are now looking at weather maps and making arrangements to head home in time for the event and pending swell.

The Billabong Pro marks the last of the Corona Crown Series events before the top rated surfers are invited to the Corona Super 16.  Being a six star event with over $12,000 in prize money up for grabs, the event has a lot resting on it in terms of qualification for the final event of the year.

As many as forty surfers are still in with a chance to qualify for the Corona Super 16 after a season filled with mixed results from New Zealand’s top surfers.

Gauranga Ormond (WGM) has held the ratings lead since the third event of the Corona Crown Series.  A local Whangamata boy, Ormond will be one to watch this weekend given that he surfs the main event site every day there is swell.

Gisborne’s Maz Quinn narrowly leads a three-way tussle for second place on the ratings.  Quinn is currently on the Gold Coast of Australia attending the first ASP World Tour event of the year.  However with the swell forecast looking the goods back in New Zealand coupled with a poor swell forecast in Australia, he is keeping his options open to fly back at late notice and compete.

Quinn is still searching for his first win of the year.  Likewise current number three and four Paco Divers (Sandy Bay) and Tim O’Connor (Mnt) are also searching for event wins after a consistent run of good results by both surfers.  The two surfers also contest the Under 20 Men’s Division of which O’Connor leads with Divers in seventh place.

Another Under 20 Men’s surfer to make his way back from overseas for this weekend’s event is current New Zealand Champion Matt Hewitt (Mnt).

Hewitt currently sits in 20th place on the Open Men’s ratings and 22nd on the Under 20 ratings after missing two of the four events contested this year.  He has been in Hawaii training over the past three weeks but makes his way back to New Zealand late this week to compete at the Billabong Pro.

Regardless of a good result at the Billabong Pro, Hewitt will not be at the Corona Super 16 as he will be competing at the ISA World Junior Championships being held in Ecuador at the same time. “I want to do good at the event this weekend but it doesn’t really matter as I will be away at the worlds when the Super 16 is on” commented Hewitt from Hawaii.

Hewitt gets back to New Zealand today (Wednesday) after having been in Hawaii for the past three weeks training and surfing.  “I have been training with a bunch of young guys from around the world that are on the Billabong team” said Hewitt adding “We have been doing heaps of swimming and running, I won the swimming challenges”.

Despite his tropic surrounding the young Mount Maunganui surfer is still looking forward to getting home and competing “I can’t wait.  It looks like there will be swell and it will be good to surf the beachies back at home for a change”.

Other surfers to watch this weekend will be winner of the most recent Rip Curl Pro held at Raglan – Billy Stairmand (Rag).  Stairmand was on fire at the event held two weeks ago with many of his peers claiming that his performance was the best ever seen in competition at Raglan.

Stairmand while coming from the point breaks of Raglan is also adept at surfing beach break conditions where he adds a bunch innovative manoeuvres to his performance.

“Well I heard there is going to some solid waves so it could be anyone’s game if it is big and messy” commented Stairmand adding “I will have to get my gun out if it is going to be big” referring to his bigger boards and the big surf predicted.

Stairmand will hope to push up into the top twelve surfers to gain direct entry in to the Corona Super 16.  In 2008 he made the trials but came up short on qualifying for the main event. “We will have to see how it goes this weekend, if it is big Maz and Jay (Quinn) will be hard to beat and guys like Sanga (Sam Willis), we will see what the weekend brings”.

Barring injury, current ratings leader in the women’s division, Jessica Santorik (Rag), will clinch the Corona Crown Series by simply entering this weekend’s event.  “I don’t just want to enter the water this weekend, it would be good for me to be able to win the Billabong comp and the last event as well” said Santorik.

Santorik has won three of the four events contested this season and placed runner up in the other.  Santorik was another winner in her backyard two weeks ago and despite her dominant position on the ratings, wants to win the series by the biggest margin possible. 

“Yeah I am stoked to win it so early” said Santorik of her current number one position.  “Last year I had a shocker, I had such a bad start and then basically gave Mischa the win in the final event when I gave her that 9.0 point ride in the final”.

The young blood follow in Santorik’s foot steps with Alexis Poulter (Rag), India Wray-Murane (Rag) and Jayda Martin-Fitzharris (Gis), Laura Rishworth (Mnt), Rosa Thompson (Auck) and Ella Williams (WGM) ranging in age from 13 through to 18. “It’s good they are all chasing me down” said Santorik.  “I don’t really think about them too much I do my own thing and if they beat me, good for them”.

While Santorik has been in the same position in the past she noted that there were never as many young surfers back in her day as a young teenager.

The three-event Under 20 series will wrap up at the Billabong Pro.  Current one and two Tim O’Connor and Buck Woods (Gis) can win the series by winning the final event.  The top ten surfers all have a chance of taking the title but would require the front runners to finish well outside the final four surfers for a title to eventuate.

The Billabong Pro also has the ‘Pacific Blue Highest Heat Score’ award up for grabs.  The surfer who amasses the highest heat score in any division over the three days wins a trip anywhere that Pacific Blue fly in Australia or the Pacific.  On top of this surfers will receive crazy prizes from Panasonic if they win their division.

The Saturday night sees the Corona After Party take place at the Palms Tavern, an annual on the calendar of extra mural functions around the Corona Crown Series.  For more information on the postponement of the event please contact Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email

The event is proudly sponsored by Billabong, Corona, Kustom, Von Zipper, MTV, Pacific Blue and Panasonic.





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Ben Kennings

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