New Zealand’s National Championships Head South

Posted - News Posted for New Zealand News, World Surfing News.

The 2016 Billabong National Surfing Championships presented by Health 2000 will head south to Dunedin in January with New Zealand’s best surfers calling the deep south home for the week-long event.

The championships will be held from the 11th – 16th January, the primary venue being St Clair Beach. It is the first time in five years that the event has been staged in the South Island and it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the host club South Coast Boardriders Association who are based at St Clair Beach.

nzl_ella_williams_392015 ISA World Surfing Games Bronze Medalist, Ella Williams, will compete for New Zealand’s National Title from January 11-16. Photo: ISA/Dave Nelson

The Otago coastline offers up an abundance of opportunities for surfers to go and explore outside the competition schedule, be it down the coast chasing swells pulsing out of the Roaring Forties or up the coast chasing cyclone swells that have ventured south from the tropics.

Defending National Champion Billy Stairmand (Rag) will attempt to claim his third straight title at the event, a feat not achieved since 1987 when Iain Buchanan completed a run of five successive titles.

Stairmand spends most of his year competing on the World Surf League Qualifying Series and this year finished 50th as the second highest placed Kiwi behind World Tour campaigner Ricardo Christie (Gis) who finished 21st on the Qualifying Series and 31st on the World Tour.

“Ricardo only got back to New Zealand this week. He has been on the road all year” said Stairmand adding “I am still going to give him a call and see if he wants to come down to Dunedin with me, it will be a fun trip and I would love to go down there with him and go head-to-head for the title.”

Stairmand heads back overseas immediately after the National Championships returning to Hawaii for the first event of his 2016 campaign which starts in late January. The National Championships will act as a springboard for his 2016 international campaign as he sharpens his competitive skills post festive season.

Auckland’s Gabriella Sansom stormed to victory in the Open Women’s Division in January this year and is one of several young surfers that will again vie for the title in 2016. The young up and coming pack of surfers will be joined by international campaigner Ella Williams (WGM) who is another surfer with major international aspirations in 2016.

Williams will have a full schedule of international events as she looks to improve on her ranking of 29th on the World Qualifying Series and challenge for a top six spot alongside Paige Hareb (Tara) and qualification for the 2017 World Tour.

The South Island will be well represented with a large contingent of surfers from the Dunedin area as well as surfers Christchurch who will enjoy competing much closer to home than usual.

Dunedin’s Josh Thickpenny won the South Island Circuit in 2015 and will aim to transfer that success on to the national stage. Dunedin groms Elliot Brown and Jack McLeod will join him as title hopefuls from the host club which has a proud history at the national event, members having won 22 titles previously.

In the 53 year history of the event the Billabong National Championships presented by Health 2000 has grown to encompass 21 divisions spread across all disciplines and age groups making for a largely inclusive event filled with high level surfing as well as good times in and out of the water.

Approximately 200 entries are expected for the event. Additional divisions comprise of age groups from Under 14 through to Over 60s and also Longboard, Stand Up Paddleboard and Kneeboard disciplines.

The event acts as a selection event for the SUP Surfing disciplines within the New Zealand Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Team.

2016 marks the seventh time the event has been held at Dunedin.

Billabong continues their naming rights sponsorship for the event promoting the development of New Zealand surfers both in Dunedin at the National Championships and throughout the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge which comprises of three age group events held over summer months at Mount Maunganui, Whangamata and Piha.

Health 2000 come’s on board for the first time in 2016 backing the National Championships and surfers throughout New Zealand.

Set out below are winners of the major divisions contested for the past five years.

Open Men
2011 – Jay Quinn (Gis)
2012 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2013 – Jay Quinn (Gis)
2014 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2015 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)

Open Women
2011 – Airini Mason (Chch)
2012 – Thandi Durham (Tara)
2013 – Mischa Davis (Piha)
2014 – Grace Spiers (WGM)
2015 – Gabriella Sansom (Auck)

Junior Men (U/18)
2011 – Ben Poulter (Rag)
2012 – Tane Wallis (Auck)
2013 – Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha)
2014 – Dune Kennings (WGM)
2015 – Kehu Butler (Mnt)

2011 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
2012 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
2013 – Daniel Procter (Gis)
2014 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
2015 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)