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Day One dawns for the Rip Curl Pro Raglan

Tim O'Connor © Cory/NZ Surfing Magazine



Rip Curl Pro 
Presented by Jagermeister

Surfing New Zealand
Manu Bay, Raglan New Zealand
14 - 16 March 2014

Small surf kicks off event at Ruapuke

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 14 March, 2014 - A move south of Raglan’s famed left hand point breaks saw New Zealand’s hottest talent pool of surfers contest day one of the Rip Curl Pro at Ruapuke Beach. The small swell of no more than one metre was obliterated by contestants in the Open Men’s and Women’s Divisions who surfed their preliminary rounds.

With next to no wind, the small – long running right handers suited the likes of Billy Stairmand (Rag), Tim O’Connor (Mnt), Paco Divers and Matt Hewitt (Mnt) who all won their heats on the way to the Quarterfinals.

Stairmand who is one of several event favourites showed he is equally adept at surfing rights compared with the lefthanders at his home break of Manu Bay.  Stairmand took apart the small waves carrying on from where he left off in Australia where his form saw him break into the top ten on the ASP World Qualifying Series with a string of good results.

Stairmand progressed alongside Bobby Hansen (Gis) together eliminating the Raglan pairing of Luke Hughes and Deane Hishon.

Matt Hewitt (Mnt) who also surfs on the ASP WQS with Stairmand found his feet early in his first round match up posting a 14.5 point heat total.  Hewitt will meet defending event champion Sean Peggs (Tai) in his quarterfinal match up as well as Maz Quinn (Gis) and JC Susan (Mnt) who scored one of the highest single wave scores of the day 8.43 points out of a possible 10 for three sharp backhand re-entries on his last scoring ride.

Tim O’Connor (Mnt) and Paco Divers (Sandy Bay) were equally as impressive in winning their heats scoring 15.7 and 13.5 points in their respective heat totals.

Other surfers to win their heats included Johnny Hicks (Gis), Tane Wallis (Piha) and number one seed Buck Woods (Gis).

The winner of the Open Men’s Division wins a trip to Indonesia and invitation into the prestigious Rip Curl Padang Cup which sees the world’s top barrel riders surf off in some of the best waves on the planet.  Alongside last years winner Sean Peggs, others to have represented New Zealand at the event include Billy Stairmand and Morehu Roberts (Gis).

The Open Women’s Division was contested at the end of the day as the tide dropped out.  Local surfer Jessica Santorik dealt with the trying conditions the best sitting wide of the peak to notch up a 12.0 point heat total with a series of strong backhand re-entries.  Santorik claimed the heat to move through to the semifinals alongside Jasmine Smith (Gis), together the two surfers eliminating Ella Williams (WGM) and Marguerite Vujich (Napier).

Mount Maunganui’s Raiha Ensor is one of the youngest surfers in the Open Women’s draw but that didn’t stop her from taking it to her opponents and winning her heat with a determined display of surfing.  Her first wave scored 6.17 points for two powerful forehand hacks which given the conditions, was a feat in itself.  Ensor ended up with a 10.93 point heat total to progress alongside Bianca Sansom (Auck).

Following Ensor was two further youngsters that notched up heat wins – Claudia Fraser (Piha) and Abby Falwasser – Logan (Gis), the two surfers facing off against Jasmine Smith and Bianca Sansom (Auck) in their pending semifinal match up that could be run as early as tomorrow morning.

The Under 20 Men’s Division did not get a start on day one but will likely be contested early on day two of the event.

Cyclone Lusi is fast approaching New Zealand with an unpredictable track that could offer up any number of weather scenarios.  One thing that is certain is that it will be windy.  A call in regards to action tomorrow (Saturday 15th March) will be made at first light once swell conditions can be determined as well as the strength of the wind which is forecast to gust upward of 30 knots at Raglan.  It is expected that a swell will build overnight to fill in the point at Manu Bay.  

The Rip Curl Pro presented by Jagermeister includes the now legendary Saturday night gathering at the YOT Club thanks to Jagermeister and Stoke Beer.

Ben Kennings

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