Surfing New Zealand
Whangamata, New Zealand
7 February 2014
Dune Kennings & Grace Spiers use local knowledge to claim wins
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 7 February, 2014 - Local Surfers Prove To Strong Claiming Both Billabong Pro Titles Home waters at Whangamata proved the advantage at the Billabong Pro today with locals Dune Kennings and Grace Spiers claiming titles in the New Zealand Pro Series event.
Under grey skies and persistent drizzle, the surf remained in excess of 1.0m all day with strong onshore winds making life difficult for competitors. Despite the less than appealing conditions, the forecast was not looking favourable for the rest of the weekend.
And with a massive field of junior surfers ready and waiting to contest the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge starting tomorrow (Saturday), the decision was made to complete the Billabong Pro in one long day of surfing.
In the final of the Open Men’s Division the youngest of the finalists Dune Kennings, 17, led the final from start to finish eventually posting a 15.67 point heat total for the win. “I couldn’t hear a thing out there and I just wanted to get as many waves as I could to give myself opportunities and I did that so I am pretty happy with myself” commented Kennings as he exited the water.
Kennings used his grandparents’ house overlooking the contest venue to hide from the adverse weather conditions and relax in comfort all day only returning to the beach to contest each of his heats, a strategy that paid off. With the strong wind, it was difficult to hear any scores in the water but Kennings had a good feeling that he was doing well and with an 8.17 and a 7.50 he held the lead the entire final.
“I had this feeling I was doing pretty well but I saw Matt (Scorringe) do an air reverse at the start so I just didn’t put him out of the picture and continued to try and get better waves to improve my overall scoreline.” Kennings joins a select group of surfers that have won an Open Men’s event while under the age of 18. Surfers include Richard Christie, Bobby Hansen, and Billy Stairmand along with other National Champions Motu Mataa and Troy Hirst.
“Like, all those guys have done well with their surfing careers so to get a win this early in my career is pretty special, I am real stoked to be part of that group of surfers.
Placing second in the final was Gisborne’s Buck Woods who dominated all day ploughing through four rounds and a strong field of surfers. However, Woods along with the other two finalists required a combination of scores to catch Kennings. Woods did enough to hold off another local surfer Matt Scorringe who placed third and Tane Wallis (Piha) who placed fourth.
Earlier in the day Wallis and Scorringe defeated Maz Quinn (Gis) and Alex Dive (Mnt) in the first semifinal while Kennings and Woods defeated Chris Malone (Rag) and JC Susan (Mnt) in the second semifinal.
In the Open Women’s Division Grace Spiers again dominated the final taking an early lead that she never relinquished. Spiers finished with an 11.5 point heat total that was only challenged on the final wave of the final when runner up Jessica Santorik (Rag) made a last ditch effort on her final wave to post a 3.93 point ride, short of the 6.28 required for the win.
It is Spiers’ second consecutive win on the New Zealand Pro Series after winning the National Championships in Gisborne in mid-January. “So happy right now” said Spiers, “I didn’t manage to get too many out there in the final but I guess I got the right ones in the end” reflected Spiers.
Her second win in a row was made all the more special being completed in front of family and friends at her local beach. “This is my home break and there is nothing better than winning at home.”
Santorik who ultimately finished runner up scored the highest heat score of the day in the semifinals when she posted a 17 point heat total out of a possible 20 points. In the final as the tide dropped the line-up changed and she was unable to replicate her semifinal performance.
Placing third in the final was Gisborne surfer Jasmine Smith ahead of the youngest contestant in the event today, Elin Tawharu (Mnt), 13, who finished in fourth place.
The three day spectacle continues tomorrow with the commencement of the Billabong Grom Series where a massive 162 entries have been locked in. Two arenas will run on Saturday to get through the massive amount of heats required to complete the event. The Billabong Pro is a four star rated event and is event two of five on the New Zealand Pro Series which started with the National Championships in Gisborne held during January as well as seeing events contested at Raglan, Dunedin and Hawkes Bay.
Open Men’s Final
Dune Kennings (Whmata), 15.67, 1,
Buck Woods (Gis), 10.93, 2,
Matt Scorringe (Whmata), 10.53, 3,
Tane Wallis (Piha), 9.23, 4
Open Women’s Final
Grace Spiers (Whmata), 11.5, 1,
Jessica Santorik (Rag), 10, 2,
Jasmine Smith (Gis), 8.83, 3,
Elin Tawharu (Mnt), 6.73, 4