The Rip Curl Pro presented by Jagermeister is set to kick off at Manu Bay, Raglan this week (Friday 14th – Sunday 16th March), New Zealand’s richest domestic surfing event.
The country’s best surfers will be anticipating a return to Manu Bay after the last two years have seen the event relocated to Ruapuke Beach south of Raglan for the $12,000 six-star rated event. Last year the relocation was met with what many described as the best waves an event has witnessed in New Zealand, perfect 1.5m – 2.0m A-frame peaks.
This year’s edition of the event will be held in memory of Craig Hughes, Raglan local and one of New Zealand’s most celebrated shapers who passed away in 2013. The event will also feature a visit from Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour surfer Owen Wright (Aus) and ex-tour surfer Taylor Knox (USA).
Wright is coming to New Zealand to score some of Raglan’s famous lefth-hand point breaks in between competing in the first two events of the 2014 World Tour. Wright, who comes from an amazing family of world class surfers, has climbed as high as third on the ASP World Tour (2011) but was injured and unable to compete for much of 2013 before making a full recovery and beginning his quest for a world title this year.
After 22 years on tour, Knox rose as high as fourth in the world (2001) and has had five top ten finishes throughout his career as well as one World Tour victory secured in Brazil in 1996. Last year Knox contested the Rip Curl Pro but was ousted early in the event by Maz Quinn (Gis) and Tim O’Connor (Mnt).
Underdog Tairua surfer Sean Peggs took a well-received victory at the 2013 Rip Curl Pro and went on to represent New Zealand with distinction at the Padang Cup in Bali, Indonesia. This year Peggs will be joined by several of New Zealand’s best surfers who are back from contesting international events in Australia.
Three time event champion (2008, 2009, 2011), Billy Stairmand of Raglan, is fresh back from competing in Australia where a good run of results has elevated him to 8th on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Qualifying Series. Absent from the event for the past two years, Stairmand is keen to compete in home waters again and shoot for four titles.
“It’s always good to come home and compete, it keeps you fresh and of course Raglan is home for me and I get to catch up with friends and family and compete in front of them which is always different compared to competing internationally” said Stairmand.
Known for his deadly backhand attack that has been groomed on the left-hand points of Raglan, Stairmand is at ease with wherever next weekend’s event will be held.
“I am not fazed if the event is held at Manu Bay or Ruapuke. For sure everyone wants the event to be held on the points and I would love it to be too, but I will take what comes, I just like competing at Raglan either way.”
Earlier in the year Stairmand won the National Championships at Gisborne before placing fifth in two international events in Australia showing the type of form the 24 year old surfer is in.
“Yeah I have had a great start to the year and I have been going into events full of confidence but we don’t have any international event for two months so it is good to come home and compete at the Rip Curl Pro and keep my early momentum going.”
Also back from international duties will be Ella Williams (WGM) who has been competing in the ASP Women’s events. The 2013 ASP Junior World Champion has a break in her international duties until she competes in the trials of the Rip Curl Pro event at Bell’s Beach, Australia, an ASP World Tour event. Next weekend, Williams will be searching for her first Rip Curl Pro title after making the final the previous three years working her way up from fourth to runner up in 2013.
Williams will be joined by current New Zealand Pro Series leader Grace Spiers (WGM) who has been in sensational form this summer winning the first two events of the series including the National Championships. Local surfer Jessica Santorik will be one to watch especially if the event is held at Manu Bay, as will the bevvy of young talent that is coming through the ranks competing in the New Zealand Grom Series held for surfers under the age of 20.
The Under 20 Boys Division has been hotly contested all summer with Piha surfer Tane Wallis currently leading the ratings. Wallis has placed in all three finals to date this year and his surfing could see him feature highly in the Under 20 Boys Division as well as the Open Men’s Division.
Fresh back from Australia will be Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha). He has been based in Australia for the past month contesting the ASP Pro Junior events and training for the upcoming ISA World Junior Championships in Ecuador. Paerata – Reid finished runner up at the Rip Curl Pro in 2013. He will be joined by the likes of Ben Poulter (Rag), Paul Moretti (Mimiwhangata) and Waretini Wano (Piha) as the top seeds.
The Rip Curl Pro presented by Jagermeister will include the now legendary Saturday night gathering at the YOT Club thanks to Jagermeister and Stoke Beer.
See below for past five years of event champions at the Rip Curl Pro presented by Nature Valley.
2009 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2010 – Morehu Roberts (Gis)
2011 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2012 – Bobby Hansen (Gis)
2013 – Sean Peggs (Tairua)
Under 20 Men
2009 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2010 – Paco Divers (Sandy Bay)
2011 – Zen Wallis (Piha)
2012 – Alex Dive (Mnt)
2013 – Dune Kennings (WGM)
2009 – Jessica Santorik (Rag)
2010 – Alexis Poulter (Rag)
2011 – Grace Spiers (WGM)
2012 – Jessica Santorik (Rag)
2013 – Wini Paul (Sandy Bay)
Complete event write ups, results, surfer ratings and images from the event can be viewed at Surfing New Zealand.
For more information on the Rip Curl Pro presented by Jagermeister please contact Ben Kennings on 021 2278732021 2278732 or email [email protected]. Alternatively, please contact Rip Curl Marketing Manager Leon Parkin on 021386473 or email [email protected].
Web clips and newsfeeds will be distributed free of charge from the event. Please contact Ben Kennings for further details.
High resolution images will be available to media upon request. Images will be distributed free of charge courtesy of New Zealand Surfing Magazine.
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Generous support from Rip Curl, Jagermeister, Stoke Beer, Nature Valley, New Zealand Surfing Magazine, The Edge, Point Boardriders and Surfing New Zealand has made this event possible.
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