International surfers announce arrival with explosive surfing at Sandy Bay ASP Event
2011 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Longboard Champion Taylor Jensen (USA) today (Sunday 5th February) announced his arrival at the 2012 ASP Longboard Qualifying Series Hyundai Tour event held at Sandy Bay, Whangarei, New Zealand.
Jensen secured the highest heat score of the event so far in the onshore 1.5m - 2.0m waves. Jensen, who is the sole American entry in the ASP sanctioned event, blazed his way through the opening heat of the day in style before moving through to the semifinals late in the placing second to Ben Dickens (Aus).
Jensen annihilated every wave he surfed with his highest score an 8.5 out of 10 in the first round. Jensen linked fast, on rail turns with vertical re-entries and long nose rides to impress the judges ending the heat with a combined wave score of 16.25 out of 20.
"It felt good out there today. The waves had a bit more punch and I was stoked to pick off a couple of good scoring rides" he said.
Jensen later placed second to Ben Dickens in the quarterfinals of the Open Men's Division which comprised ten Australian surfers versus five New Zealand surfers and Jensen, the sole American.
The low tide conditions delivered some good quality waves and it was Ben Dickens (Australia) who set the standard in Heat One of the quarterfinals. Dickens, who was relatively subdued in his earlier performance, belted a number of vertical forehand re-entries and in doing so scored 8.0 out of 10 for his efforts. Dickens performance (14.5) saw him beat Taylor Jensen (USA) and it was obvious he was pretty pleased with his result heading into the semifinal round.
"I am stoked with my waves out there. It feels pretty good to beat the world champion" he said.
This is Dickens' first time in New Zealand and he has been impressed with his trip so far. "Sandy Bay is epic. This contest reminds me of the old days when we used to do the Australian Pro Junior series, a real relaxed vibe on the beach and everyone has been so friendly to us. I slept out under the stars last night which was unreal, so I'll definitely be coming back next year" he said.
Dickens has been competing on the Australian Longboard Tour for the last four years and the Lennox Head local will be one to watch moving into the final day of competition at Sandy Bay.
Dane Pioli (Australia) set the round on fire with his blazing quarterfinal appearance. The electric natural footer, who hails from the wave rich Gold Coast of Australia, nailed a couple of top scoring waves with an 8.10 and backing it up with 7.75, finishing off the heat ahead of Thomas Kibblewhite (Orewa). Pioli is a top international competitor and the punchy low tide waves really suited his progressive style. "Yeah it was pretty fun out there. It's definitely the best I've surfed it so far in the contest "he said. Pioli's combined heat score was the top of the round with 15.85 out of 20.
In Heat Three young Sunshine coaster Nic Jones (Australia) blitzed his opponents with a combined heat score total of 15.25 out of 20. Jones, who is also a top junior contender, took to the punchy low tide waves with ease, and showed his full repertoire of traditional and progressive surfing to wow the crowd and judges. Matt Cockayne (Mangawhai Heads) placed second behind Jones and will no doubt be looking to improve on his recent fifth placings at Raglan and Piha. "I have been feeling good in the water here at Sandy Bay. It's one of my favourite waves in Northland, and I am stoked to be in the top eight" he said. Cockayne and Kibblewhite are the two remaining Kiwi surfers in the Open Men's draw, and will be looking forward to the home ground advantage come semifinals time.
Heat Four was a little more subdued with conditions deteriorating making for hard work for the competitors. Jared Neal (Australia) continued his good form picking off some solid scoring rides winning the heat with the total heat score of 13.5 ahead of Mitch Surman (Australia) in second place. Surman has struggled to gain momentum so far in the event, but is optimistic heading into the final day of the event.
Open Women's Division
At the completion of the Open Men's the Open Women's semifinals took to the water. In and it was an all Kiwi affair with local surfer Wini Paul (Sandy Bay) winning ahead of Ann Snyder (Tauranga). Conditions weren't ideal but Paul made the most of the surf and her local knowledge saw her pick off the best waves available.
In Heat Two it was the young Australian duo of Sam Suendermann (Victoria, AUS) and Molly Powell (Victoria, AUS) who took out first and second respectively ahead of Piha surfers Mischa Davis and Anna Jolly. With less than 1.47 points separating first from fourth place, it was close finish and obviously disappointing for the New Zealand surfers.
Over 40's Division
Rhys Powell (Omaha) and Guy Rencher (Papamoa) were stand-out performers in the Over 40 Men's semifinals with both surfers winning their respective heats. Powell was pretty stoked with his effort, and this will be his first Over 40's finals appearance in 2012. Powell placed first ahead of Tatana Heke (Mount Maunganui).
The 2012 Hyundai Tour travels to Raglan, Piha, Sandy Bay and Mount Maunganui before the season concludes at Port Waikato in early March. Overall the Hyundai Tour boasts $20,000 in prize money.
The remaining events for the 2012 Hyundai Tour follow:
Hyundai Tour Event 4, 18-19 February, Mount Maunganui (4-star)
Hyundai Tour Event 5, 2-3 March, Port Waikato (6-star)
Entry into all events can be completed at Surfing New Zealand under "events." Complete the entry process online or download entry forms and send them in. The 2012 Hyundai Tour is expected to receive high entry levels at each location, so entries will need to be in well before the cut off dates to assure participants get a slice of the action.