Ricardo Christie in the hunt for Championship Tour return

Gisborne-Mahia surfer is 14th on the World Surf League Qualifying Series rankings

Gisborne-Mahia surfer is 14th on the World Surf League Qualifying Series rankings

Ricardo Christie free fals into a wave at the Margaret River Pro in 2015. File picture

SURFING

A RETURN to world surfing’s elite tour remains firmly in Ricardo Christie’s sights as he looks to the last two “biggies” of his competitive year.

The 29-year-old Gisborne-Mahia surfer is 14th on the World Surf League Qualifying Series rankings after his latest contest — the 10,000-point EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira in Portugal.

Christie collected 3700 valuable QS points and $US4300 for his ninth-equal placing.

He won his rounds 2, 3 and 4 heats to book a round 5 clash with Ryan Callinan.

The Australian got the better of Christie in the transtasman duel, totalling 11.77 to Christie’s 9.20, and went on to win the final.

The points advanced Christie three places up the QS rankings to 14th on 11,700 points for his five best results — well within striking distance in the race for the season-ending top 10 spots and qualification for the 2019 Championship Tour.

However, among those top 10 are Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi and Australian Mikey Wright, who are already sitting in solid positions on the 2018 CT.

Igarashi is ninth and Wright 11th. If they finish in the top 22, they retain their places on the CT so their QS rankings would be disregarded.

That would mean Christie could finish in the top 12 and still earn a return to the CT, having qualified in 2015.

He would rather not rely on that formula and has two more 10,000 contests — the Hawaiian Pro and the Vans World Cup at Oahu in November/December — to earn a position the direct route.

It is a challenging prospect as CT surfers out of or near the bottom of the top 22 will be fighting for survival through the QS ranks as well.

Christie is familiar with this scenario, having had to endure a two-week wait for the last CT contest of the year in 2014 before it was confirmed he had made the 2015 edition.

SURFING

A RETURN to world surfing’s elite tour remains firmly in Ricardo Christie’s sights as he looks to the last two “biggies” of his competitive year.

The 29-year-old Gisborne-Mahia surfer is 14th on the World Surf League Qualifying Series rankings after his latest contest — the 10,000-point EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira in Portugal.

Christie collected 3700 valuable QS points and $US4300 for his ninth-equal placing.

He won his rounds 2, 3 and 4 heats to book a round 5 clash with Ryan Callinan.

The Australian got the better of Christie in the transtasman duel, totalling 11.77 to Christie’s 9.20, and went on to win the final.

The points advanced Christie three places up the QS rankings to 14th on 11,700 points for his five best results — well within striking distance in the race for the season-ending top 10 spots and qualification for the 2019 Championship Tour.

However, among those top 10 are Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi and Australian Mikey Wright, who are already sitting in solid positions on the 2018 CT.

Igarashi is ninth and Wright 11th. If they finish in the top 22, they retain their places on the CT so their QS rankings would be disregarded.

That would mean Christie could finish in the top 12 and still earn a return to the CT, having qualified in 2015.

He would rather not rely on that formula and has two more 10,000 contests — the Hawaiian Pro and the Vans World Cup at Oahu in November/December — to earn a position the direct route.

It is a challenging prospect as CT surfers out of or near the bottom of the top 22 will be fighting for survival through the QS ranks as well.

Christie is familiar with this scenario, having had to endure a two-week wait for the last CT contest of the year in 2014 before it was confirmed he had made the 2015 edition.

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