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Ricardo Christie and Ava Henderson Win Backdoor Taranaki Pro

Ricardo Christie and Ava Henderson have claimed big victories in Taranaki yesterday, winning the Backdoor Taranaki Pro, presented by Billabong, in excellent conditions at Stent Road.

It was the first Open Women’s win for Henderson since her breakthrough performance at the 2020 National Championships 16 months ago, while Christie has not won a national event since 2018.

The final day of the event was held in solid 1.5m waves at Tuiraho, Stent Road, with great waves all day long.

Christie dominated his final with a patient display of surfing riding his way to a 17.0-point heat total. After having only competed once this year, Christie relied on his experience to get him into the groove for the event.

Ricardo Christie proved he still has his CT form when it’s called for. Photo: Cory Scott

“I think the winning formula is being grateful for being here and enjoying it,” Christie said.

“Every heat I had in this event was challenging,” he adds. “It was cool – I got into the routine as if I was back on the CT and made sure I was having fun and enjoying it.”

Christie posted an 8.0-point ride on his first wave before playing the waiting game to close out the final.

“I got the first wave in the final and saw a few mediocre ones came through, but I wanted to be smart in the heat, I had watched all day and it was consistent so I knew there would be other big sets within the next 15 minutes and I would get the opportunity as long as I didn’t ‘go a shit one,’ because I had priority the whole time.”

Christie’s patience paid off with a nine-point-ride in the dying minutes of the heat to clinch the win.

Raglan’s Billy Stairmand finished runner-up in the final after trying to play catch up for much of the 20 minutes, going to the air on one occasion, but being unable to find the quality waves to match Christie.

Local surfer Daniel Farr finished the final in third place saving his best for his last wave, a 7.13, but he still needed a near perfect 9.88 to surpass Christie. Waihi Beach surfer Levi Stewart finished the final in fourth place overall.

Ava Henderson continues to shake up women’s surfing in New Zealand winning the Open and Under 18 titles at the Backdoor Taranaki Pro. Photo: Cory Scott

Ava Henderson finished the final with a 16.0-point heat total including her own nine-point-ride to match Christie’s.

“Super stoked to win. I usually can’t pull it together in pumping waves, so it was good to surf out there and get a win and know that I can do some good turns to get those scores,” said Henderson whose approach was to go all out in the final.

“I went into the final feeling super relaxed and was going with it. If there was a section I was just going to hit it as hard as possible and hope for the best,” she added.

Henderson now has her sights set on the final event of the year at Piha in two weeks time.

“The final event of the year should be interesting. I have never competed in that format before, so it will be fun,” she added commenting on the pending New Zealand Surf Series final at Piha.

Whangamata surfer Grace Spiers made a comeback of sorts to the competitive arena this weekend and finished the event runner-up on 13.2 points after taking an early lead. She held on to second over junior surfers Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara) in third and Anna Brock (Mnt) in fourth.

Henderson claimed the double by earlier winning the Under 18 Girls Division. 14-year-old Leia Millar (Piha) finished runner-up ahead of another double finalist Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara) in third and Ariana Shewry (Tara) in fourth.

In the Under 18 Boys Division, Finn Vette (Gis) notched up his third win of the season smashing the long righthanders on his backhand. His fast-paced surfing netting him a 15.6 point heat total after surfing through five heats of the Open Men’s and Junior Divisions during the day. Current rankings leader Jack Hinton (Mnt) finished in second place to hold down his lead going into the final event while Josef Jungwirth (Rag) finished in third ahead of first-time-finalist Max De Groot (HBay) in fourth.

The 2021 New Zealand Surf Series caters for New Zealand’s top male and female surfers. The series started at Piha and has seen events held at Raglan, Dunedin, and Canterbury. The final of the NZ Surf Series will be held at Piha on the 16th May.

Story: Ben Kennings/Surfing New Zealand
Photos: Cory Scott/Surfing New Zealand

Final Results, Backdoor Pro presented by Billabong
Tuiraho – Stent Road
Sunday 2nd May).

Open Men’s Round of 32
Heat 1
Billy Stairmand (Rag), 15.76, 1, Ricardo Christie (Mahia), 15.13, 2, Caleb Cutmore (Ham), 12.24, 3, Jack Hinton (Mnt), 10.07, 4
Heat 2
Paul Moretti (Nrthlnd), 13.1, 1, Dune Kennings (Piha), 13.07, 2, Conor McLennan (Chch), 11.03, 3, Navryn Malone (Rag), 6.66, 4
Heat 3
Sean Peggs (Tairua), 13.77, 1, Zen Wallis (Piha), 13.37, 2, Joel Clegg (Tara), 10.3, 3, Billy Gilbert (Whngrei), 10.3, 4
Heat 4
Taylor Hutchison (Rag), 13.03, 1, Josef Jungwirth (Rag), 10.83, 2, Manu Scott Arrieta (Sandy Bay), 9.93, 3, Fraser Falconer (Auck), 7.97, 4
Heat 5
Daniel Farr (Tara), 13.67, 1, Tom Butland (Tara), 11.8, 2, Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 11.53, 3, Corban Grainger (Tara), 7.64, 4
Heat 6
Jay Piper – Healion (Whiti), 15, 1, Chris Malone (Gis), 12.5, 2, Kora Cooper (Rag), 10.56, 3, Jayden Willoughby (Rag), 10.27, 4
Heat 7
Elliot Paerata Reid (Piha), 15.3, 1, Callum Chuter (Mn13.7, 2, Jarred Hancox (Tara), 12.23, 3, Nick White (Mnt), 11.37, 4
Heat 8
Finn Vette (Gis), 1404, 1, Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch), 12.93, 2, Kalani Louis (Tara), 12.37, 3, Reuben Woods (Mnt), 10.9, 4

Open Men’s Division Quarterfinals
Heat 1
Billy Stairmand (Rag), 16.4, 1, Paul Moretti (Nrthlnd), 14.57, 2, Zen Wallis (Piha), 12.24, 3, Josef Jungwirth (Rag), 10, 4
Heat 2
Ricardo Christie (Mahia), 16.14, 1, Sean Peggs (Tairua), 15.46, 2, Taylor Hutchison (Rag), 13.84, 3, Dune Kennings (Piha), 12.84, 4
Heat 3
Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch), 13.87, 1, Daniel Farr (Tara), 12.73, 2, Jay Piper – Healion (Whiti), 10.47, 3, Callum Chuter (Mnt), 10.14, 4
Heat 4
Chris Malone (Gis), 14.3, 1, Tom Butland (Tara), 13.8, 2, Elliot Paerata Reid (Piha), 12.96, 3, Finn Vette (Gis), 11.63, 4

Open Men’s Division Semifinals
Heat 1
Ricardo Christie (Mahia), 17.14, 1, Billy Stairmand (Rag), 15.07, 2, Paul Moretti (Nrthlnd), 13.54, 3, Sean Peggs (Tairua), 11.2, 4
Heat 2
Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch), 14.7, 1, Daniel Farr (Tara), 14.57, 2, Tom Butland (Tara), 14.2, 3, Chris Malone (Gis), 14.17, 4

Open Men’s Division Final
Ricardo Christie (Mahia), 17, 1, Billy Stairmand (Rag), 14.97, 2, Daniel Farr (Tara), 13.52, 3, Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch), 11.57, 4

Under 18 Boys Division Quarterfinals
Heat 1
Jack Hinton (Mnt), 10.5, 1, Josef Jungwirth (Rag), 9.33, 2, Ben Moretti (Ahipara), 5.34, 3, Nate Florence (Tara), 5.2, 4
Heat 2
Navryn Malone (Rag), 12.8, 1, Finn Vette (Gis), 10.38, 2, Kora Cooper (Rag), 7.67, 3, Kalani Louis (Tara), 3.8, 4
Heat 3
Max de Groot (HBay), 12.1, 1, Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 11.83, 2, Tom Butland (Tara), 11.63, 3, Jayden Willoughby (Rag), 9.84, 4

Under 18 Boys Division Semifinals
Heat 1
Finn Vette (Gis), 14.23, 1, Jack Hinton (Mnt), 13.9, 2, Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 11.73, 3
Heat 2
Max de Groot (HBay), 12.9, 1, Josef Jungwirth (Rag), 11.57, 2, Navryn Malone (Rag), 10.74, 3

Under 18 Boys Division Final
Finn Vette (Gis), 15.6, 1, Jack Hinton (Mnt), 14.1, 2, Josef Jungwirth (Rag), 13.2, 3, Max de Groot (HBay), 11.3, 4

Open Women’s Division Semifinals
Heat 1
Grace Spiers (Whmata), 14.2, 1, Anna Brock (Mnt), 12.9, 2, Paige Hareb (Tara), 12.2, 3, Aimee Brown (GB), 12, 4
Heat 2
Ava Henderson (Chch), 14.5, 1, Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara), 12.8, 2, Saffi Vette (Gis), 12.6, 3, Leia Millar (Piha), 8.8, 4

Open Women’s Division Final
Ava Henderson (Chch), 16, 1, Grace Spiers (Whmata), 13.2, 2, Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara), 11.1, 3, Anna Brock (Mnt), 8.57, 4

Under 18 Girls Division Semifinals
Heat 1
Natasha Gouldsbury (Levin), 12, 1, Leia Millar (Piha), 10.5, 2, Chloe Groube (Pau), 8.07, 3
Heat 2
Ariana Shewry (Tara), 13, 1, Ava Henderson (Chch), 10.5, 2, Sophia Brock (mnt), 8.53, 3

Under 18 Girls Division Final
Ava Henderson (Chch), 15.3, 1, Leia Millar (Piha), 11.9, 2, Natasha Gouldsbury (Levin), 11.5, 3, Ariana Shewry (Tara), 10.6, 4

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