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New Zealand’s Richest Surfing Event Makes History With TAB

Surfing in New Zealand is about to make history this weekend with Raglan’s Rip Curl Pro featuring at the TAB. Forget your fantasy surf leagues, this is the real thing with real money at stake. Who’s your money on? Billy Stairmand? Dune Kennings? Maz Quinn? Aimee Brown or Ella Williams?

Will event favourite Billy Stairmand get your cash at the TAB? Photo: Cory Scott

To get this right first you have to know he facts: defending champions Billy Stairmand and Ella Williams have shuffled their World Qualifying Series schedules to make themselves available to contest New Zealand’s richest surfing event. Williams is hunting for her sixth straight title and Stairmand is gunning for his third straight title. 

Both are on WQS form and likely to be the favourites. But it won’t be an easy march.

Take Me To The TAB

Even Maz Quinn has been lured back to the competitive arena – spurred on by his recent win at The Barrett Homes Surf Open, he’ll be excited by the promising forecast and $15,000 in prize money.

Quinn is joined by ratings leader and local standout Taylor Hutchison who will be eager to keep his position at the top of the rankings. With a pair of semifinals finishes this year, Hutchison will have his sights firmly on a finals berth come Sunday.

Other surfers in the Open Division looking for a big result will be runner up at the most recent event, Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch), Luke Cederman (Rag), who has placed first and second and the two most recent events held at Raglan, and Daniel Farr (Tara), a finalist in 2018 who has been making a slow return from injury this summer.

Wildcards to watch for (and paying big dividends) include an in-form Jack McLeod (Dunedin), the hard-charging Jonas Tawharu (Mount) and the local savviness of the Hughes brothers: Luke (paying 26-1) and his younger brother Nat (paying 151-1).

Ella Williams on WQS form and event favourite in the Women’s. Photo: Cory Scott

In the Women’s Division, Raglan import and National Champion Aimee Brown will be keen to back up her performance in Taranaki. Brown has made the finals at both events contested this year and currently leads the rankings.

Saffi Vette (Gis) makes a return to the domestic scene after spending much of summer competing in Australia. Vette leads the charge for a young field of surfers where the average age is just 20 years old. Despite the young nature of the draw, all of the up and comers will have to be wary of the likes of talented local mother Jessica Santorik and Whangamata’s Grace Spiers, both two-time previous event champions.

The Rip Curl GromSearch finals will take place this weekend as well where four young males and females vie for a chance to represent New Zealand at the international final. Local grom Kora Cooper will lead the way in the Boys Division and he will be up against Myka Black (Chch), Tom Robinson (Whgnrei) and Jack Lee (Whaka). In the Girls Division, it is another local surfer in Brie Bennett that faces off against Estella Hungerford (Chch), Georgia Wederell (Mnt) and Hannah King (Gis).

Now for the waves themselves. The Rip Curl Pro, presented by Corona, takes place at Raglan’s Manu Bay on Saturday in a forecast of WSW 2-1.7m swell at 13 seconds with some stiff souwest to southerly winds. It will conclude on Sunday in light winds and a dropping swell of around 1.5m.

The Saturday night Corona after party will take place at Isobar in Raglan township.

The Rip Curl Pro is the first of four straight legs of the National Series with rankings set to change considerably over the next month after the series frequents Dunedin, Christchurch and then returns to Raglan.


Remaining Four Events Of The National Series

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


Current Ratings On The New Zealand Surf Series



Open Men’s Division

1, Taylor Hutchison (Rag)
2, Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch)
3, Billy Stairmand (Rag)
4, Callum Chuter (Mnt)
5, Dune Kennings (Whmata)
6, Jarred Hancox (Tara)
7, Caleb Cutmore (Ham)
8, Ricardo Christie (Mahia)
9, Jack Lee (Whaka)
10, Alex Dive (Mnt)

Open Women’s Division

1, Aimee Brown (GB)
2, Raiha Ensor (Mnt)
3, Gabrielle Paul (Piha)
4, Billie Scott (Whangarei)
5, Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara)
6, Lily McDonald (Te Aroha)
7, Saffi Vette (Gis)
8, Georgia Wederell (Chch)
9, Ella Williams (Whmata)
10, Laura Griffin (Mnt)

Past Champions Rip Curl Pro


Open Men’s Division
2018, Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2017, Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2016, Maz Quinn (Gis)
2015, Maz Quinn (Gis)
2014, Ricardo Christie (Gis)
2013, Sean Peggs (Tai)
2012, Bobby Hansen (Gis)
2011, Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2010, Morehu Roberts (Rag)

Open Women’s Division

2018, Ella Williams (WGM)
2017, Ella Williams (WGM)
2016, Ella Williams (WGM)
2015, Ella Williams (WGM)
2014, Grace Spiers (WGM)
2013, Wini Paul (Sandy Bay)
2012, Jessica Santorik (Rag)
2011, Grace Spiers (WGM)
2010, Jessica Santorik (Rag)

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