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Thomas Kibblewhite (Rodney) has made the best possible start to the 2012 Hyundai Tour convincingly winning the first event completed at Manu Bay, Raglan today (Sunday 8th January).
Kibblewhite posted 16.07 out of a possible 20 points in a wave starved final and claimed the edge over his opponents early on the five event tour.
The surf remained in perfect condition for the final day with the forecast gale force winds not eventuating leaving a groomed ocean and a 1.0m swell.
In today's final Kibblewhite posted his two best scores early on thanks to his trademark backhand vertical attack. His strategy of getting a quick start clearly paid dividends.
"I looked at it all day and it got consistent for a while but when the tide went out it slacked off so I knew the quick start was the key because you never know what could happen over 25 minutes with the tide going out even further and sure enough it went pretty dead toward the end there" Kibblewhite said.
Reflecting on the event as a whole Kibblewhite admitted to "saving his best until last" in the final to eclipse his opponents who all had at least one good wave but lacked the good second scoring rides.
Dylan Barnfield (Ohope) placed second in the final after earlier beating Kibblewhite in the semifinals. Barnfield scored an impressive 7.57 point ride early in the final to match Kibblewhite but with the ocean going flat for much of the latter half of the heat he simply did not get the chance to challenge for the win. Barnfield finished with a 12.87 point heat total.
Gisborne's Sam Johnson was another to have just the one good ride - a 7.50 which he scored on his first wave but Johnson only surfed two other small waves that did not allow the burly surfer to score more than a four point ride.
Phil Morris (Auck) finished the final in fourth place unable to claim his maiden Hyundai Tour victory that everyone including himself knows he is capable of.
Kibblewhite now takes the lead on the Hyundai Tour heading into the National Championships where he is the defending champion. "The tour victory is my goal this year so hopefully I can achieve it. I would really like to win the Nationals next week too and get two under the belt which would mean an unreal start to the year for me so that is what I will be going for as well" Kibblewhite said.
Mischa Davis (Piha), fresh back from a year studying in Europe took the honours in the Women's Longboard Division. It was the first event that Davis had competed in for 12 months but that did not impact on her performance scoring 14.73 points in the final.
"It feels pretty good to come home and win" Davis said. "I love surfing Raglan, I am a goofy footer so I feel at home here. It is perfect for longboarding at this size" added Davis who has returned back to New Zealand to finish her studies and plans to contest all five Hyundai Tour events this year.
Alexis Poulter (Raglan) placed second in the final and scoring 10.90 with Shelley Jones (Auck) in third and Anna Jolly (Piha) in fourth.
Nic Jones led the Under 18 Boys Final from the outset after posting a 9.0 point ride on his first wave ridden. The smooth young surfer from the Sunshine Coast was a standout all event after also posting a fifth placing in the Open Men's Division. He finished the final with a 17.67 point heat total to surpass the Poulter brothers Ben and Sam who finished second and third respectively. It was Ben that took the honours on his last wave scoring 6.83 to jump ahead of Sam. Josh Taylor (Mnt) placed fourth in the final also showing some of the flare that he is renowned for on his more preferred shortboard.
Defending Over 40 Men's Champion Brian Young (Orewa) got his year off to the best start by winning the first event. Young eased to victory scoring a 14.83 point heat total in the final comprising of 8.83 and 6.0 point rides. Young left his three opponents to battle out a closer fought race for the minor placings. Mount Maunganui's Mal Brady clinched runner up ahead of Steve Tyro (Rag) and Guy Rencher (Mnt).
Michael Thomson was never going to let a national event slip by his home break without putting in a performance that only a local could. He sealed the win via his last wave sharply surfed for a 7.17 to finish with a 13.50 point heat total. Mark Hoyle (Orewa) surfed to his best ever result at a national level placing second in the final. Hoyle had looked the in-form surfer all event but was not quite a match for Thomson in the final finishing with an 11.60 point heat total. Grant Cochrane (Chch) finished in third place ahead of David Storck (Piha) in fourth.
Daniel Kereopa had only one result in mind for the Stand Up Paddleboard Division and that was first place in front of his family and friends. "Oh I think competing at home is tougher for me and local boys but I wasn't thinking of any other result than first. I had to win this weekend no matter what" Kereopa said.
Like many other finals, the win came down to getting a good start to the final and Kereopa used his knowledge of the break to put pressure on his opponents who ultimately left him alone to get the pick of the waves. "I put the pressure on early and it paid off" added Kereopa.
Christchurch surfer Shayne Baxter challenged Kereopa for the lead but after surfing into the rocks, had to change equipment midway through the heat and lost his momentum finishing with 13.23 points to Kereopa's 15.30. Gisborne surfer Sean Hovell finished in fourth place with Raglan surfer Armie Armstrong in fourth.
The 'King of the Waves' paddle race saw 24 paddlers take to the water completing a 3.0km course from the boat ramp at Manu Bay out into the bay and back around past the break then in through the waves. The lead changed several times as the paddlers navigated the waves with limited success on their boards that are tailored to distance racing.
Defending Hyundai Tour paddle race champion Armie Armstrong (Rag) surged into the lead after the first two legs but with the last pass through the waves came unstuck allowing Warwick Grey (Waihi Beach) to fly past surfing a wave down to the boat ramp and then complete the 100m dash back through the car park. Jeremy Stephenson (Auck) finished in second place with Armstrong in fourth.
Please see below for final results from day two of the first event of the 2012 Hyundai Tour completed at Manu Bay, Raglan today (Sunday 8th January).
Men's Longboard Semifinals
Dylan Barnfield (Ohope), 16.17, 1, Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck), 14.5, 2, Nicolas Jones (Sunshine Coast, Aus), 11.53, 3, Ant McColl (Mnt), 9.07, 4
Sam Johnson (Gis), 13.57, 1, Phil Morris (Auck), 13.43, 2, Matt Cockayne (Mngwhai), 10.73, 3, Zen Wallis (Piha), 7.63, 4
Men's Longboard Final
Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck), 16.07, 1, Dylan Barnfield (Ohope), 12.87, 2, Sam Johnson (Gis), 11.07, 3, Phil Morris (Auck), 9.83, 4
Under 18 Longboard Final
Nic Jones (Aust), 17.67, 1, Ben Poulter (Rag), 14.77, 2, Sam Poulter (Rag), 12.23, 3, Josh Taylor (Tau), 10.13, 4
Women's Longboard Semifinals
Mischa Davis (Oratia), 13.67, 1, Shelly Jones (Auck), 10.07, 2, Jess Roberts (Katikati), 8.73, 3, Anna Gooding (Tau), 7.73, 4
Alexis Poulter (Rag), 10.33, 1, Anna Jolly (Piha), 9.17, 2, Belinda Goodwin (Rag), 8.57, 3, Hannah Howard (Auck), 7.13, 4
Women's Longboard Final
Mischa Davis (Oratia)14.73, 1, Alexis Poulter (Rag), 10.90, 2, Shelly Jones (Auck), 8.0, 3, Anna Jolly (Piha), 6.77, 4
Over 40 Men's Longboard Semifinals
Brian Young (Orewa), 16.17, 1, Mal Brady (Mnt), 10.33, 2, Whare Heke (Mnt), 7.23, 3
Steve Tyro (Rag), 11.83, 1, Guy Rencher (waihi Bch), 10.5, 2, Tatana Heke (Mnt), 6.67, 3
Over 40 Men's Longboard Final
Brian Young (Orewa) 14.83, 1, Mal Brady (Mnt) , 9.57, 2, Steve Tyro (Rag) , 8.97, 3, Guy Rencher (Waihi Bch), 8.63, 4
Over 50 Men's Longboard Semifinals
Mike Thomson (Rag), 10.73, 1, David Storck (Auck), 7, 2, Rupert Newbold (Whngrei), 6.5, 3, Terry Fong (Auck), 1.83, 4
Mark Hoyle (Orewa), 11.93, 1, Grant Cochrane (ChCh), 11.53, 2, Scotty Riach (Auck), 6.87, 3, Barry Agnew (Auck), NS, 4
Over 50 Men's Longboard Finals
Mike Thomson (Rag), 13.5, 1, Mark Hoyle (Orewa), 11.60, 2, Grant Cochrane (ChCh), 10.47, 3,
David Storck (Auck), 9.47, 4
Stand Up Paddleboard Semifinals
Daniel Kereopa (Rag), 12.4, 1, Armie Armstrong (Rag), 9.03, 2, Te Roha Farlie (Gis), 9, 3
Shane Murrell (Auck), 6.13, 4
Shayne Baxter (ChCh), 15.33, 1, Sean Hovell (Gis), 10.97, 2, Mike Cann (Auck), 9.8, 3, Karlos Aarsen (Whmata), 9.23, 4
Stand Up Paddleboard Final
Daniel Kereopa (Rag), 15.3, 1, Shayne Baxter (ChCh), 13.23, 2, Sean Hovell (Gis), 9.97, 3, Armie Armstrong (Rag), 8.5, 4
Stand Up Paddleboard Race
1st Warwick Grey (Waihi Beach), 2nd Jeremy Stephenson (Auck), 3rd Armie Armstrong (Rag), 4th Sean Hovell (Gis)
Seven divisions are contested on the tour - Open Men, Women, Junior Men (Under 18), Over 40, Over 50 and Stand Up Paddleboarding and the SUP Race. Overall the Hyundai Tour boasts $20,000 in prize money.
The 2012 Hyundai Tour travels to Raglan, Piha, Sandy Bay and Mount Maunganui before the season concludes at Port Waikato in early March.
The remaining events for the 2012 Hyundai Tour follow:
Hyundai Tour Event 2, 15-21 January, Piha (5-star) - National Championships
Hyundai Tour Event 3, 3-6 February, Sandy Bay (SNZ 6-star / ASP LQS 1-star)
Hyundai Tour Event 4, 18-19 February, Mount Maunganui (4-star)
Hyundai Tour Event 5, 2-3 March, Port Waikato (6-star)