Billabong National Surfing Champs
Presented by Subaru
Surfing New Zealand
Piha Beach, Auckland
11 - 17 January 2015
Open Men’s Division will be contested on Saturday
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 15 January, 2015 - Two high intensity rounds of the Open Men’s Division whittled down the field of surfers to the final four on day five of the 2015 Billabong National Surfing Championships driven by Subaru held at Piha Beach, Auckland today.
The surf had dropped overnight but was still 1.0m – 1.5m with clean surface conditions throughout the morning followed by afternoon sea breezes. Under the blistering summer sun, two of the event favourites, Maz Quinn (Gis) and Billy Stairmand (Rag) took two different routes through to the final.
The two surfers have seven national titles between them but that meant little to Quinn’s opponents who had him on the ropes and facing elimination in the semifinals. Quinn was sitting in third position and in need of a score with less than a minute remaining. Quinn pulled on all his experience to find a wave with ten seconds remaining, a 7.17 which was enough to see him push into second place and advance behind Mount Maunganui surfer Alex Dive.
“I had a good heat this morning, but struggled in the semis” said Quinn. “I got one in the middle of the heat and one at the end and scraped through. The last time I made the final at Piha I progressed in much the same manner. I am stoked to be there though and I am looking forward to the weekend.”
The Open Men’s Division will be contested on Saturday giving finalists a day off tomorrow.
“It will be good to have a day off and Saturday the swell looks like it will build so I am pretty happy, let’s do it, I want another title” said a resolute Quinn.
Stairmand, the defending champion, took a different route with two comprehensive wins this morning, first posting a 14.8 point heat total in the quarterfinals then a 14.93 point heat total in the semifinals. “I was keen to wait until later in the day to contest the semifinals in the hope that conditions would be better but I am happy now that I am through to the final” said Stairmand.
Quinn and Stairmand will be up against two first time finalists at the National Championships – local surfer Tane Wallis and Mount Maunganui’s Alex Dive.
Wallis, a 2014 national representative, has been in exceptional form all event posting the highest heat score to date and continually winning his match ups through until the semifinals when he placed second to Stairmand. He has also used his local knowledge to find waves in the middle of the beach at the south end of Piha where his opponents have been ‘lost at sea.’
Dive placed seventh at the event in 2014 finishing his run in the semifinals. His progression today has him ‘100% amped’ for Saturday. “This event is so prestigious, so to have a crack at winning it and getting my name on that trophy is amazing, I can’t wait” said Dive.
In the semifinals it as Dive and Quinn that eliminated Dune Kennings (WGM) and Matt Hewitt (Mnt) while in semifinal two Stairmand and Wallis defeated Liam Joyce (Piha) and Ben Kennings (WGM).
The finalists were also found in the Open Women’s Division with the new guard continuing their run at the event. 18 year old Gabriella Sansom (Auck) top scored in the semifinals posting 13.0 out of a possible 20 points. Sansom advanced alongside Muriwai surfer Britt Kindred (16), the two surfers set to contest their first National Championships final.
Also surfing for her first title will be seventeen year old Dayna Story (Gis). Story advanced behind the Jessica Santorik (Rag), Santorik at the age of 27 has nine years’ experience over her closest rival and also has her name etched on the women’s trophy on one occasion.
Early in the afternoon it was the Under 18 Boys Division that had the chance to contest their semifinals. The finalists almost identically match the top seeds for the event with Kehu Butler (Mnt), Daniel Farr (Tara), Isaac Kettle (Tara) and Taylor Hutchison (Rag) the last four surfers standing. Butler, Farr and Kettle are the top three seeds while Hutchison was seeded fifth.
The swell is forecast to drop overnight but perfect offshore winds are forecast which provide perfect conditions for the penultimate day of the event. The 2015 Billabong National Surfing Championships driven by Subaru runs from the 11th – 17th January. It is the eleventh time the event has been held at Piha. The event is hosted by Lion Rock Boardriders Club.
The event schedule for the remainder of the week is set out below. The days listed are the earliest possible start days for each division.
Friday 16th – All divisions plus Kneeboard
Saturday 17th - All divisions plus SUP Race
Open Men’s Semifinals
Heat 1 Alex Dive (Mnt), 14.37, 1, Maz Quinn (Gis), 12.57, 2, Dune Kennings (Whmata), 10.2, 3, Matt-Lewis Hewitt (Mnt), 10.03, 4
Heat 2 Billy Stairmand (Rag), 14.93, 1, Tane Wallis (Piha), 12.97, 2, Liam Joyce (Piha), 10.37, 3, Ben Kennings (Whmata), 6.9, 4
Open Women’s Semifinals
Heat 1 Gabriella Sansom (Auck), 13.2, 1, Britt Kindred (Mur), 8.77, 2, Elin Tawharu (Mnt), 7.73, 3, Zhana Hutchieson (Tara), 4.13, 4
Heat 2 Jessica Santorik (Rag), 12.4, 1, Dayna Story (Gis), 9.63, 2, Mischa Davis (Piha), 7.73, 3, Claudia Fraser (Piha), 6.93, 4
Under 18 Boys Semifinals
Heat 1 Kehu Butler (Arataki), 12.13, 1, Taylor Hutchison (Rag), 12.1, 2, Callum Chuter (Tau), 11.23, 3, Manu Scott-Arrieta (Sandy Bay), 9.97, 4
Heat 2 Daniel Farr (Tara), 14, 1, Isaac Kettle (Tara), 9.47, 2, Jack Wilson (ChCh), 9.43, 3, Nick Tuhikarama (Chch), 7.5, 4