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Ella Williams wins ITL New Zealand Open

Ella Williams © Daisy Day

TSB Bank New Zealand Surf Festival

ITL New Zealand Women’s Open
Fitzroy Beach Taranaki, New Zealand
2 April 2013

Williams posts a 19.27 in amazing quarterfinal

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 2 April, 2013 : - - In solid 1.5 metre surf, Whangamata’s Ella Williams proved her champion form by winning the ITL New Zealand Women’s Open and earning her wild card spot in the Dow AgroSciences Pro ASP World Championship Tour event starting tomorrow.

The 18-year old, who is on the junior New Zealand surf team, showed her form early in the competition by posting a score of 19.27 out of a possible 20 in her quarterfinal heat -says head judge, Lee Ryan from Surfing New Zealand.

“Ella has a lot of competition experience and has a great chance to get the big scores competing against the world’s best tomorrow,” says Ryan. For Williams, winning the ITL NZ Women’s Open held in association with Urban Studios, has been the highlight of her surfing career to date.

“I have dreamt of this day for so long,” says Williams. “Only a certain number of people get this opportunity to surf against the world’s best so this is the greatest thing I have won in surfing.” Williams won the final with a score of 14.17 out of a possible 20. Coming second was Jessica Santorik (Raglan) with 10.9, Thandi Tipene (New Plymouth) third with 10.23, and Gracie Spiers (Whangamata) fourth with 8.93.

As stop number four in the seven-leg ASP Women’s World Championship (WCT) tour, the Dow AgroSciences Pro features 17 ASP competitors who are the best of the best when it comes to professional women’s surfing.

A solid swell and offshore winds are predicted over the five day window for the event, running from April 3 to 7. Including Taranaki’s own Paige Hareb who is in her fourth year on the tour, the competitors are aged from 18 to 29 and come from South America, California, France, Hawaii, and Australia.

While they all love competing against each other in powerful, progressive surfing – they also love coming to Taranaki, says ASP Women’s World Tour manager, Jessi Miley-Dyer.
“Once again, we’re very excited to bring the world’s best female surfers to Taranaki,” says Jessi – herself a former competitor on the world tour.

“Never before have we seen such an unparalleled assemblage of talent on the tour, and pairing them with New Zealand’s great waves has set a fantastic stage.”

As the culmination of the 10-day TSB Bank New Zealand Surf Festival, the Taranaki Women’s WCT event has always provided some real surprises in the three years it has been staged in New Zealand. In the first year, Hawaiian Carissa Moore won the event and astounded everyone with her generosity by donating her US$15,000 prize money to the Waitara Bar Boardriders Club.

In the second year, Carissa was looking strong to win again until Australian Sally Fitzgibbons chose better positioning in the water and took out the title in the final. And last year, Paige Hareb had the home crowd on the edge of their deck chairs as she fought her way to the semi-finals only to be knocked out by the current world champion Stephanie Gilmore who went on to win the event.

Winning the ITL NZ Women’s Open in association with Urban Studio creates a golden opportunity to for up and coming New Zealand surfers to compete against the world’s best women surfers. In the first year of the Festival, 15-year old Sarah Mason won the Open – and then rocked the surfing world when she beat world champion Stephanie Gilmore in her second-round heat, says event organiser, Craig Williamson from Surfing Taranaki.

“Sarah then made it all the way to the semi-finals before being knocked out – an amazing achievement for such a young surfer,” explains Craig. Mason thrived on the experience and her surfing career took off from there, winning the Open again in 2011 and making it onto the World Tour in 2012.

In 2012, it was the opportunity of a lifetime for another young Kiwi surfer when 16-year-old Gabby Sansom won the Open and went on to compete in the Dow AgroSciences Pro.
“These events are all about helping Kiwi women surfers be all they can be,” says Craig. “Last year we created New Zealand surfing history when we had three Kiwis competing in an ASP WCT event for the first time. Coming up against the world’s best means you have to lift your game – and to date that is what we have seen. The question is – who will win the Open this year and what will be their effect in our ASP Pro event? Stay tuned!”

“The Dow AgroSciences Pro is a competition that draws crowds to the beach to watch the epic surfing. With two person heats, there’s always an incredible display of one on one surfing which makes for compelling watching and an exciting atmosphere at the beach,” explains Craig.

“The judges are scoring on five main attributes – commitment and degree of difficulty; innovative and progressive manoeuvers; combination of major manoeuvers; variety of manoeuvers; speed, power and flow. That all adds up to an awesome display of surfing!”

This year the Dow AgroSciences Pro will be staged over a five-day window from April 3 to 7. The main competition arena will be Fitzroy Beach, with Back Beach and Arawhata Rd around the Surf Highway as backup arenas should wind and swell conditions change.

Each morning contest directors make a call around 8am on whether the contest is on or off, or at which arena it will be held. And if you can’t get down to the beach, all details along with live video streaming of the heats can be seen at nzsurffestival.co.nz

www.nzsurffestival.co.nz

Source: Surfing Taranaki

Author: Bruce Gatward-Cook

Tags: New Zealand, Women's WCT, ASP Dow AgroSciences Pro,

Women's World Tour: Surfersvillage

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