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Billy Stairmand Wins Rip Curl Pro

Raglan’s Billy Stairmand wins his third straight Rip Curl Pro title after blowing away a strong field of domestic surfers today at Manu Bay, Raglan. Stairmand was joined by Mount Maunganui surfer Raiha Ensor who claimed the women’s title.

Billy Stairmand on WQS form as he picked the competition apart at the Rip Curl Pro. Photo: Cory Scott/NZSM

Stairmand looked unstoppable all weekend and his relentless performances continued into the final as he went on to post a 16.44 point heat total out of a possible 20 points, easily defeating fellow local Luke Cederman in the same one-two scenario as the 2018 event.

“I wanted to put on a show out there because there are heaps of people watching today and also live on Sky Sport.”

Rip Curl Pro winner Billy Stairmand

“Yeah, I keep saying it, but my equipment is so good at the moment and it just makes me comfortable when competing,” offered Stairmand afterward.

“I wanted to put on a show out there because there are heaps of people watching today and also live on Sky Sport.”

Luke Cederman did his best to unseat Stairmand. Photo: Cory Scott/NZSM

Sky Sport covered the event in its entirety this weekend and the event made history as the first New Zealand surfing event to be available through the TAB betting agency.

Stairmand, a TAB favourite, held half of the top ten single-wave scores of the weekend showing his dominance, but he was also quick to mention his strategic approach to his heats.

“I probably could have got better waves in the final, but I was surfing strategically, particularly in that heat and that is all I wanted to do. Everyone surfs a heat differently and I just wanted to stick to my game plan.”

Stairmand now eyes up two international events in Indonesia and Australia as he hunts down more World Surf League qualification points.

“I really want to try and get on tour with Ric (Christie) and Paige (Hareb). And also aim for the Olympics next year.”

Daniel Farr rising through the ranks at New Zealand’s richest surf event. Photo: Cory Scott/NZSM

Cederman finished runner up on 13.93 points, unable to match the speed and flow of Stairmand who is the best part of 25kg lighter than the big goofy footer. However, Cederman managed to show glimpses of his brilliance and did enough to hold off Daniel Farr (Tara) who finished third in the final, one place better than 2018. The third local surfer in the final, local surfboard shaper, Luke Hughes, finished fourth.

Raiha Ensor on her way to a win in the women’s division at the Rip Curl Pro. Photo: Cory Scott/NZSM

The Open Women’s Final was a much closer affair with Ensor getting the nod over Gisborne’s Saffi Vette 13.9 vs 13.47, the win coming down to a fall from rising star Vette as she pushed for the lead midway through the final with her progressive approach.

Seventeen-year-old Saffi Vette proved once again she’s becoming a force to be reckoned with. Photo: Cory Scott/NZSM

However, for Ensor, the win had been a while coming and she had been taking inspiration from Stairmand in the build up to the event to help with her performances.

“I was feeling good going into this weekend,” she smiled afterward. “I have been working with Billy all this week sponging up his knowledge of the break here as well as focusing on how to construct a good heat strategically.”

“I was feeling good going into this weekend. I have been working with Billy all this week sponging up his knowledge of the break here as well as focusing on how to construct a good heat strategically.”

Women’s winner Raiha Ensor

“The last comp Ella beat me and I only needed a mid-range score to win that event so I was pissed off with myself,” she laughed. “I have been working on getting back-up waves and I am stoked that I got a seven and six early in the final this weekend, which was a half decent heat total that I could defend instead of chasing down the win.”

Ella Williams had to settle for third at the Rip Curl Pro. Photo: Cory Scott/NZSM

“These events are good practice for the World Qualifying Series events and especially this one because it always has the hardest field of surfers. Getting to surf against the likes of Ella is awesome, because she isn’t always competing in New Zealand,” added Ensor.

17-year-old Vette had to settle for runner-up for the second time this year after she surfed to the same result at the National Championships held in Taranaki during January. After spending much of summer competing in Australia, it was a welcome return to the domestic scene and a good performance for the young surfer on her backhand.

Vette held off four-time defending champion Ella Williams (WGM) who finished third in the final ahead of Jessica Santorik (Rag) in fourth.

The Rip Curl GromSearch Finals were claimed by replacement surfer Jack Lee (Whaka) and local surfer Brie Bennett. Lee dominated the boys final through to the dying stages when Whangarei’s Tom Robinson came back with a late wave that fell just short of the required score. Bennett, in contrast, secured her win on her last wave, a 5.3 point ride, which was enough for her to leap frog Estella Hungerford (Chch) for the win.

The Rip Curl Pro is the first of four straight legs of the New Zealand Surf Series with rankings set to change considerably over the next month after the series frequents Dunedin, Christchurch and then returns to Raglan. Stairmand and Ensor now lead the New Zealand Surf Series rankings after three of seven events this year.

Maz Quinn's 12 o'clock attack couldn't earn him a finals berth this time. Photo: Cory Scott/NZSMLocal shaper Luke Hughes charging into the finals. Photo: Cory Scott/NZSM Women's winner Raiha Ensor. Photo: Cory Scott/NZSMLocal Jessica Santorik on form at the Rip Curl Pro. Photo: Cory Scott/NZSM

Remaining New Zealand Surf Series Events

Emerson’s South Island Championships, Dunedin – 19 – 21 April
Exit Surf Men’s Canterbury Championships, Christchurch (mobile) – 26-28 April
Backdoor Oceanbridge Manu Bay Pro, Raglan – 3-5 May
Backdoor BayBash, location TBC – 16-17 November

Full Results Rip Curl Pro Presented By Corona

Open Men’s Division Quarterfinals
Heat 1
Taylor Hutchison (Rag), 13.76, 1, Maz Quinn (Gis), 11.86, 2, Jayden Willoughby (Rag), 10.64, 3, Dune Kennings (Whmata), 10.36, 4
Heat 2
Billy Stairmand (Rag), 18.04, 1, Luke Hughes (Rag), 14.33, 2, Alex Dive (Mnt), 12.4, 3, Caleb Cutmore (Ham), 9.6, 4
Heat 3
Sid West (Gt Barrier), 13.14, 1, Daniel Farr (Tara), 11.17, 2, Callum Chuter (Mnt), 10.66, 3, Nick White (Mnt), 4.7, 4
Heat 4
Luke Cederman (Rag), 13.13, 1, Kora Cooper (Rag), 11.07, 2, Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch), 10.24, 3, Jack Lee (Whaka), 8.44, 4

Open Men’s Division Semifinals
Heat 1
Billy Stairmand (Rag), 16.53, 1, Luke Hughes (Rag), 14.93, 2, Taylor Hutchison (Rag), 14.16, 3, Maz Quinn (Gis), 6.9, 4
Heat 2
Daniel Farr (Tara), 14.1, 1, Luke Cederman (Rag), 12.93, 2, Kora Cooper (Rag), 12.16, 3, Sid West (Gt Barrier), 10.93, 4

Open Men’s Division Final
Billy Stairmand (Rag), 16.44, 1, Luke Cederman (Rag), 13.9, 2, Daniel Farr (Tara), 12.83, 3, Luke Hughes (Rag), 12.53, 4

Open Women’s Division Quarterfinals
Heat 1
Saffi Vette (Gis), 11.14, 1, Aimee Brown (GB), 11.04, 2, Brie Bennett (Rag), 9.13, 3, Lily McDonald (Te Aroha), 4.26, 4
Heat 2
Ella Williams (Whmata), 16.77, 1, Jessica Santorik (Rag), 12.43, 2, Kai Woolf (Rag), 11.36, 3, Gabrielle Paul (Piha), inj
Heat 3
Raiha Ensor (Mnt), 12.6, 1, Claudia Fraser (Piha), 11.4, 2, Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara), 6.77, 3, Estella Hungerfrd (Chch), 5.2, 4

Open Women’s Division Semifinals
Heat 1
Jessica Santorik (Rag), 13.5, 1, Saffi Vette (Gis), 10.4, 2, Claudia Fraser (Piha), 6.83, 3
Heat 2
Ella Williams (Whmata), 14.94, 1, Raiha Ensor (Mnt), 12.37, 2, Aimee Brown (GB), 10.1, 3

Open Women’s Division Final
Raiha Ensor (Mnt), 13.9, 1, Saffi Vette (Gis), 13.47, 2, Ella Williams (Whmata), 12.3, 3, Jessica Santorik (Rag), 11.03, 4


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