This coming weekend sees the combination of two events rolled into one at Whangamata with the postponed Billabong Pro presented by Sony and the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge both taking place at Whangamata from Friday 10th February.
After a less than ideal surf forecast over Auckland Anniversary Weekend, a delay was forced on the Billabong Pro. Now it will double up with the originally scheduled Billabong Grom Series and this time with a more favourable surf outlook.
The Billabong Pro presented by Sony will commence on the Friday with a good 1.0m of easterly swell forecast. The event is attracting the top surfers from around New Zealand to the Coromandel Peninsula seaside town as well as some of New Zealand's best freestyle motocross exponents who will be putting on an exhibition in Williamson Park behind the Surf Club.
The change in dates for the event has allowed Maz Quinn (Gis) the ability to return to fitness after injuring his back while surfing over the Christmas period. Quinn missed the National Championships in January due to the injury but for the first time in six weeks he entered the water in the weekend.
Fellow Gisborne surfer Chris Malone will go into the event as the number one seed with National Champion Billy Stairmand (Rag) competing at an international event in Australia and unable to attend the event. Stairmand is joined by several other surfers competing overseas including Jay Quinn (Gis) and Richard Christie (Mah) who are both over in Brazil contesting their first major event of the year.
The Women's Division will see Thandi Durham - Tipene (Tara) enter the water as the new National Champion. She takes on a swag of young guns coming through the ranks including local surfers Grace Spiers and Ella Williams, Jayda Martin - Fitzharris (Gis), Alexis Poulter (Rag) and Rosa Thompson (Auck).
The Under 20 Men's Division will be contested for the first time this season. Great Barrier Island surfer Sid West will go into the event as the number one seed with a number of top junior surfers having moved up into the Open Men's Division. West will be joined by Tane Wallis (Piha) and Jacob Kohn (Gis) and Joe Moretti (Moretti) as well as the new crop of surfers that have recently moved up from the Under 16 Boys Division including Sean Kettle (Tara), Adam Grimson (Gis) and Paul Moretti (Mimiwhangata).
The youngsters contesting the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge will do so hot on the heels of the first event of the series held at Mount Maunganui over Waitangi weekend. Elliot Paerata - Reid (Piha) and Gabriela Sansom (Albany) got the best possible start to the series winning the first event in the Under 16 Divisions. This weekend they will take on double duties with both surfers contesting the Billabong Pro as well.
Another win by with Paerata - Reid of Sansom will see them go into the final event with a good chance of winning the series and the trip to Australia to compete in the Occy Grom Comp held in Queensland during July. A further three trips are also up for grabs in the Under 14 Boys Division and the Under 12 Boys with Kehu Butler (Mnt) and Kea Smith both having won their respective divisions at the first event of the year, Butler making it a double with the Under 12 Boys Division win.
The Billabong Pro presented by Sony is now in its eighth consecutive year and boasts the largest prize pool of the New Zealand Pro Series with over $12,800 of cash and prizes up for grabs.
Please see below for winners of the event over the past five years and the top rated surfers in the Open Men's and Women's Divisions on the New Zealand Pro Series.
2007 - Daniel Kereopa (Rag)
2008 - Maz Quinn (Gis)
2009 - Bobby Hansen (Gis)
2010 - Maz Quinn (Gis)
2011 - Richard Christie (Mah)
2007 - Jessica Santorik (Rag)
2008 - Jessica Santorik (Rag)
2009 - Laura Rishworth (Mnt)
2010 - Jessica Santorik (Rag)
2011 - Sarah Mason (Gis)
2007 - Ryan Hawker (Piha)
2008 - Ryan Hawker (Piha)
2009 - Keone Campbell (Tara)
2010 - Johnny Hicks (Gis)
2011 - JC Susan (Mnt)
Current New Zealand Pro Series Standings
Open Men's Division
1. Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2. Chris Malone (Gis)
3. Tim O'Connor (Mnt)
4. Matt Hewitt (Mnt)
5. Jay Quinn (Gis)
5. Bobby Hansen (Gis)
7. Zen Wallis (Piha)
7. Alex Dive (Mnt)
Open Women's Division
1. Thandi Durham - Tipene (Tara)
2. Mischa Davis (Piha)
3. Ella Williams (WGM)
4. Jayda Martin - Fitzharris (Gis)
5. Grace Spiers (WGM)
5. Jessica Santorik (Rag)
Please see below for the remaining events, dates and locations for the New Zealand Pro Series:
Billabong Pro presented by Sony - 10-12 February, Whangamata
O'Neill Sequence Surf Shop Pro - 25-26 February, Gisborne
Rip Curl Pro - 16-18 March, Raglan
Entry into the events can be completed at Surfing New Zealand under events. Complete the entry process online or download entry forms and send them in.