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Featured Surf Athletes

Billy Stairmand Beats Ricardo Christie, Wins Seventh National Title

Billy Stairmand has beaten good friend Ricardo Christie to kick off 2019 in the best way possible claiming his seventh title at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships completed at Stent Road in Taranaki today.

Billy Stairmand notching up title number seven at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships. Photo: Coff Media

Taranaki turned on another stellar day of surf and weather with clean 1.5m waves and light winds at Stent Road, which provided a platform for what many considered a ground-breaking day of finals action. The consistency of the waves throughout this event has meant each surfer in each final had earned their spot surfing truly world-class waves.

“I always want to beat Ricardo, I have done since we were kids and now he is on tour I really wanted to get this one over him. I was stoked to have him in the final and Elliot and Tom who have been ripping all week.”

Billy Stairmand

Billy, whose seventh title is a New Zealand record, was joined on the winner’s podium by Aimee Brown (Great Barrier) who claimed her first national title in the Open Women’s Division.

Billy Stairmand on form at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships. Photo: Coff Media

The Billy Stairmand vs Ricardo Christie battle pitted two of the world’s best surfers against each other. They know each other very well and the final battle was everything it promised. And this pair of WQS stalwarts (with Ricardo now qualified for the 2019 World Championship Tour) had an interesting pair of rivals in the final with the fast-looming Elliot Paerata-Reid, also a WQS regular, more than capable of driving a wedge between the suitcase surfers. And then there is 15-year-old local surfer Tom Butland – the youngest ever finalist in the Open Men’s Division at a New Zealand Surfing National Championship. He put everyone on notice. In the end Ricardo couldn’t claw back an in-form and hungry Billy and was forced to settle for second. Elliot took third with Tom in fourth.

Ricardo Christie working hard to attack Billy’s lead during the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships. Photo: Coff Media

“I always want to beat Ricardo,” smiles Billy afterward. “I have done since we were kids and now he is on tour I really wanted to get this one over him. I was stoked to have him in the final and Elliot and Tom who have been ripping all week.”

Billy posted a 17.6 point heat total in the final in a performance than topped all apart from his semifinal.

“Each heat I got more and more comfortable and my scores reflected that throughout the week,” he said.

“The last few months I have had a kick in the butt and I have realised that I have to work hard and stay focused if I want to do this,” admits Billy. “So at the end of last year I really wanted to surf a lot and I wanted to surf my new boards a lot and come into the new year fit and healthy. I came down here early and surfed before and after the event each day to get used to the wave. I don’t know what has changed, but I know I seriously want to win now.”

Billy Stairmand notching up title number seven at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships. Photo: Coff Media

Many commentators felt the hunger had slipped from Billy’s surfing in the past few seasons, so to hear him say that and to win this event is a good sign for the talented surfer … and New Zealand surfing. Let’s hope he taps into that for the 2019 WQS series and joins Ric on the CT for 2020.

“The last few months I have had a kick in the butt and I have realised that I have to work hard and stay focused if I want to do this. I came down here early and surfed before and after the event each day to get used to the wave. I don’t know what has changed, but I know I seriously want to win now.”

Billy Stairmand

Ricardo was left searching for an 8.71 point ride in the dying stages of the final and Billy was sure to defend his lead, forcing Ric into a closeout with seconds remaining. Ric was unable to defend his 2018 title. Elliot may have finished third in the final, but his semifinal performance was incredible with a heat total of 19.03 out of a possible 20 and the highest of the event.

Ricardo Christie at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships. Photo: Coff Media

Local Oakura surfer Tom Butland, the youngest event finalist in the Open Men’s Division ever at just 15 years of age, finished fourth. His performance throughout the week, which included a win in the Under 16 Boys Division, saw him take out the award for the Most Outstanding Performance alongside fellow local surfer and triple finalist Dwaine Mataa.

Tom Butland is chaired up the beach after winning the Under 16s Title at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships. Photo: Coff Media

Great Barrier Island’s Aimee Brown took what many would consider a breakthrough title in the Open Women’s Division. However, after winning the last two domestic events of 2018, it is no surprise that Aimee continued her form into the New Year.

Aimee posted a 14.2 point heat total to defeat Saffi Vette, of Gisborne, Laura Griffin, of Whangarei and Zhana Hutchieson, of Taranaki, in the final.

“I came into this comp just wanting to make the final,” admits Aimee. “But to win it is crazy. It has always been a goal of mine to win, but the first year in the Open Women’s Division … oh my god.”

Aimee Brown on her way to winning the Women’s Open at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships. Photo: Coff Media

“It was so much fun to have that final out at Stent with three others,” she continues. “The waves were so good that anyone could have won, you only had to get the best waves.”

“I came into this comp just wanting to make the final, but to win it is crazy. It has always been a goal of mine to win, but the first year in the Open Women’s Division? Oh my god.”

2019 National Champ Aimee Brown

There was only 0.2 points between Aimee and Saffi who was hunting her second title of the day after winning the Under 18 Girls Division.

Saffi could not stop a rampaging Point Boardriders of Raglan winning the top club at the event with her Gisborne Boardriders Club relinquishing their title and finishing second ahead of host club Oakura Boardriders in third.

Point Boardriders relied on Stairmand to clinch the title along with winner of the Under 18 Boys Division Caleb Cutmore, winner of the Over 45 Men’s Division Geoff Hutchison and Navryn Malone who won the Under 14 Boys Division.

Tom Butland in action at the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships. Photo: Coff Media

The Under 16 titles went to Butland and Natasha Gouldsbury, Natasha winning her first title with the last wave of the final.

In the senior divisions, Jarred Hancox won the Over 30s Division, Luke Kerr the Over 35s and Manu Schafer the Over 40s.

Thomas Kibblewhite, of Red Beach, claimed his sixth title in the Men’s Longboard Division.

Story: Surfing NZ/Ben Kennings
Photos: Surfing NZ/Coff Media

Full Results from the Health 2000 National Surfing Championships

Open Men’s Division Semifinals
Heat 1
Elliot Paerata Reid (Piha), 19.13, 1, Billy Stairmand (Rag), 18.03, 2, Jarred Hancox (Tara), 13.5, 3, Sean Kettle (Tara), 10.14, 4
Heat 2
Tom Butland (Tara), 15.6, 1, Ricardo Christie (Mahia), 14.33, 2, Taylor Hutchison (Rag), 13, 3, Caleb Cutmore (Ham), 11.9, 4

Open Men’s Division Final
Billy Stairmand (Rag), 17.6, 1, Ricardo Christie (Gis), 16.27, 2, Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha), 15.33, 3, Tom Butland (Tara), 11.27, 4

Under 18 Boys Division Final
Caleb Cutmore (Ham), 18.66, 1, Thomas Carter (Waihi Bch), 13.50, 2, Jack Lee (Whaka), 12.74, 3, Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 12.53, 4

Under 16 Boys Division Final
Tom Butland (Tara), 15.74, 1, Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 15.06, 2, Finn Vette (Gis), 13.3, 3, Navryn Malone (Rag), 9.54, 4

Open Women’s Division Semifinals
Heat 1
Aimee Brown (GB), 12.67, 1, Saffi Vette (Gis), 12.23, 2, Gabriella Sansom (Auck), 8.9, 3
Heat 2
Zhana Hutchieson (Tara), 15.17, 1, Laura Griffin (Mnt), 11.84, 2, Grace Spiers (Whmata), 10.6, 3

Open Women’s Division Final
Aimee Brown (GB)
Saffi Vette (Gis)
Zhana Hutchieson (Tara)
Laura Griffin (Mnt)

Under 18 Girls Division Final
Saffi Vette (Gis), 17.67, 1, Georgia Wederell (Mnt), 10.37, 2, Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara), 10.04, 3, Gabrielle Paul (Auck), 8.70, 4

Under 16 Girls Division Final
Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara), 11.54, 1, Brie Bennett (Rag), 11.34, 2, Liv Haysom (Piha), 10.46, 3, Ava Henderson (Chch), 10.26, 4

Over 30 Men’s Division Final
Jarred Hancox (Tara), 15.2, 1, Bachelor Tipene (Tara), 12.9, 2, Dwaine Mataa (Tara), 9.8, 3, Danny Kaweroa (Tara), 4.64, 4

Over 35 Men’s Division Final
Luke Kerr (Tara), 15.6, 1, Chris Malone (Gis), 14.6, 2, Dwaine Mataa (Tara), 13.1, 3, Jeremy Curd (Tara), 12.2, 4

Over 40 Men’s Division Final
Manu Schafer (Tara), 17.6, 1, Alan Te Moananui (Chch), 12.5, 2, Dwaine Mataa (Tara), 11.9, 3, Jamie Andrews (Tara), 11.1, 4

Men’s Longboard Division Final
Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck), 13.9, 1, Glen Johnson (Auck), 11.34, 2, Michael Grendon (Tara), 10.64, 3, Paul Culpan (Auck), 6.63, 4

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