Should the stars align, and some surf forecasters are suggesting they will, the best surfers in the country could be set for some incredible waves throughout the seven day national Championships which climax on Saturday 18th January.
Confirmed to compete at the event are New Zealand’s top internationally ranked surfers Richard Christie who is based out of Gisborne and also Billy Stairmand (Rag). Both past National Champions, Christie in 2005 and Stairmand in 2010 and 2012, will be keen to compete in New Zealand waters after a long 2013 campaign that saw them compete around the globe on the ASP World Qualifying Series.
Christie finished the year the highest ranked of the Kiwis at 78th with Stairmand six places back in 84th. Standing in front of their title desires will be defending champion Jay Quinn who is looking to become the first surfer to defend an Open Men’s Division title since 1991.
Quinn already has three titles to his name and another will see him match older brother Maz Quinn (Gis), himself a major threat in the coming week of action. Based in Australia, Jay Quinn has returned to his home town for the week and to compete at the event.
Without a national title to his name but often regarded as one of the most talented surfers to come out of New Zealand is yet another Gisborne local in Bobby Hansen.
Hansen was brought up on the waves of Makorori Beach where many Gisborne surfing events are often held contested. Hansen will be a real threat to the top seeds at the event and a national title would be fitting for the local surfer. Ella Williams (WGM), the country’s first ASP World Junior Champion will spearhead the Women’s Division.
Williams will use this event as a build up for her international campaign which sees her spend the majority of February competing in Australia. Williams will return to New Zealand briefly during February to attend the Halberg Awards where she has been named as one of four finalists for the Westpac Emerging Talent Award.
Williams will contest the Open Women’s Division against fellow Whangamata surfer Grace Spiers, Alexis Poulter (Rag), the Sansom twins Bianca and Gaby of Auckland as well as local surfer Jasmine Smith who is also defending champion in the Under 18 Girls Division. The two premier divisions will be accompanied by a further 21 divisions being contested over the seven days of surfing.
Boardrider clubs throughout the country will also contest the Inter Club Championship which will see results from each clubs five top surfers counting toward their team points total.
The five results counted for each club will be broken down as follows: Top Open Men’s Division surfer, top female surfer (any division), top junior surfer (any division male or female), top age group surfer (Over 28s – Over 60s) plus the clubs top other result.
Over 270 entries have been received for the event surpassing the past two years when the event has been held at Piha Beach, Auckland. The event takes place from the 12th – 18th January and coincides with Gisborne Boardrider Club’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. It will be the fifteenth time the event has been held at Gisborne.
The schedule of events sees a staggered start to several divisions and categories: 12 Jan – Open Men’s and Junior Men’s Divisions 13 Jan – All of the above 14 Jan – All of above plus Women’s Shortboard Divisions 15 Jan – All of the above plus Longboard and older age group divisions 16 Jan – All of the above 17 Jan – All of the above plus SUP (Men and Women) and Kneeboard 18 Jan – All of the above plus SUP Race Set out below are the winners of key divisions for the past five years.
Open Men 2009 – Matt Hewitt (Mnt) 2010 – Billy Stairmand (Rag) 2011 – Jay Quinn (Gis) 2012 – Billy Stairmand (Rag) 2013 – Jay Quinn (Gis)
Open Women 2009 – Daisy Thomas (Chch) 2010 – Laura Rishworth (Mnt) 2011 – Airini Mason (Chch) 2012 – Thandi Durham (Tara) 2013 – Mischa Davis (Piha)
Junior Men (U/18) 2009 – Ryan Hawker (Piha) 2010 – Johnny Hicks (Gis) 2011 – Ben Poulter (Rag) 2012 – Tane Wallis (Auck) 2013 – Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha)
Longboard 2009 – Daniel Proctor (Gis) 2010 – Dylan Barnfield (Ohope) 2011 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck) 2012 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck) 2013 – Daniel Procter (Gis)
Complete lists of all National Champions are located on the Surfing New Zealand website. Entry into the National Championships can be completed at Surfing New Zealand under events.