Christie, Stairmand showdown looming

The spray flies as Gisborne-Mahia surfer Ricardo Christie hits the top of a wave at Taranaki’s Stent Road break at the National Surfing Championships. Christie, who is defending the open men’s title, advanced to the semifinals with a dominant performance as he builds towards the 2019 Championship Tour. Picture by Cory/NZ Surfing Magazine

WORLD Championship Tour contender Ricardo Christie remains on course for a successful open men’s title defence while Gisborne teenager Saffi Vette enhanced her growing reputation at the National Surfing Championships yesterday.

Gisborne-Mahia surfer Christie won his round 2 heat and quarterfinal to advance to the semifinals at Taranaki’s Stent Road break.

Vette was also in winning form as she booked a spot in the semis of the open women’s division.

Christie is set for a showdown with fellow professional and six-times New Zealand open champion Billy Stairmand although both will have to make it through their respective semis for that to happen.

Christie, in fine form heading into his build-up to the 2019 World Surf League Championship Tour, won his round 2 heat as Stent Rd provided some of the best conditions at the nationals in years.

He scored an outstanding 18.53 out of a possible 20 for his two best waves to blow away his opponents — Whitianga’s Jay Piper-Healion second on 9.6.

Christie also topped the scoring in the quarterfinals — a 17.1 effort heading off Hamilton’s Caleb Cutmore (14.1), Piper-Healion (13.3) and Whakatane’s Jack Lee (9.76).

“Man, I was stoked to surf out there,” Christie said. “The waves were firing.”

He put his consistency down to keeping to a routine.

“I just keep all heats exactly the same. What I have learned is to do what you usually do whether you are here at the national champs, at a boardriders comp or competing on the world tour . . . just keep it the same.”

Stairmand won his round 2 heat with 14.6 but had to settle for second (15.94) to Piha’s Elliot Paerata-Reid (16.8) in the quarters.

“I’m really focused,” world qualifying series competitor Stairmand said. “I feel like this year is going to be a good year for me. I am fit and healthy, surfing a lot, and feel like I am surfing well.

“I want to start the year strong, make the final and have a good battle with Ricardo.”

Christie, Stairmand, Paerata–Reid, locals Jarred Hancox, Sean Kettle and Tom Butland, Cutmore and Raglan’s Taylor Hutchison make up the semifinals.

New Zealand junior representative Vette powered into the open women’s semifinals with a win in her quarterfinal.

Vette posted 12.43, with Whangamata’s Grace Spiers (9.97) also moving on, as the pair eliminated defending champion Raiha Ensor (8.4).

Taranaki’s Zhana Hutchieson (13.54) and the Mount’s Laura Griffin (10.37) won the other quarters.

Raglan-based Chris Malone, who affiliates with Gisborne, was the stand-out surfer in the over-35 men’s division, booking a semifinal berth with a 17.2 heat-winning total.

Malone’s 16.8 in the over-40 men’s division, however, was not enough. Taranaki’s Dwaine Mataa and Manu Schafer blitzed their way into the 18s to knock out Malone.

Today’s programme included the opening rounds of the bodyboard and standup paddleboard divisions.

WORLD Championship Tour contender Ricardo Christie remains on course for a successful open men’s title defence while Gisborne teenager Saffi Vette enhanced her growing reputation at the National Surfing Championships yesterday.

Gisborne-Mahia surfer Christie won his round 2 heat and quarterfinal to advance to the semifinals at Taranaki’s Stent Road break.

Vette was also in winning form as she booked a spot in the semis of the open women’s division.

Christie is set for a showdown with fellow professional and six-times New Zealand open champion Billy Stairmand although both will have to make it through their respective semis for that to happen.

Christie, in fine form heading into his build-up to the 2019 World Surf League Championship Tour, won his round 2 heat as Stent Rd provided some of the best conditions at the nationals in years.

He scored an outstanding 18.53 out of a possible 20 for his two best waves to blow away his opponents — Whitianga’s Jay Piper-Healion second on 9.6.

Christie also topped the scoring in the quarterfinals — a 17.1 effort heading off Hamilton’s Caleb Cutmore (14.1), Piper-Healion (13.3) and Whakatane’s Jack Lee (9.76).

“Man, I was stoked to surf out there,” Christie said. “The waves were firing.”

He put his consistency down to keeping to a routine.

“I just keep all heats exactly the same. What I have learned is to do what you usually do whether you are here at the national champs, at a boardriders comp or competing on the world tour . . . just keep it the same.”

Stairmand won his round 2 heat with 14.6 but had to settle for second (15.94) to Piha’s Elliot Paerata-Reid (16.8) in the quarters.

“I’m really focused,” world qualifying series competitor Stairmand said. “I feel like this year is going to be a good year for me. I am fit and healthy, surfing a lot, and feel like I am surfing well.

“I want to start the year strong, make the final and have a good battle with Ricardo.”

Christie, Stairmand, Paerata–Reid, locals Jarred Hancox, Sean Kettle and Tom Butland, Cutmore and Raglan’s Taylor Hutchison make up the semifinals.

New Zealand junior representative Vette powered into the open women’s semifinals with a win in her quarterfinal.

Vette posted 12.43, with Whangamata’s Grace Spiers (9.97) also moving on, as the pair eliminated defending champion Raiha Ensor (8.4).

Taranaki’s Zhana Hutchieson (13.54) and the Mount’s Laura Griffin (10.37) won the other quarters.

Raglan-based Chris Malone, who affiliates with Gisborne, was the stand-out surfer in the over-35 men’s division, booking a semifinal berth with a 17.2 heat-winning total.

Malone’s 16.8 in the over-40 men’s division, however, was not enough. Taranaki’s Dwaine Mataa and Manu Schafer blitzed their way into the 18s to knock out Malone.

Today’s programme included the opening rounds of the bodyboard and standup paddleboard divisions.

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