SURFING

Gisborne surfer Bobby Hansen competing at the Hyundai National Surfing Championships held at Piha last week.  Hansen will be one of the top seeds when the postponed Billabong Pro presented by Sony gets underway at Whangamata in two weeks time (10-12 Feb). Gisborne surfer Bobby Hansen competing at the Hyundai National Surfing Championships held at Piha last week. Hansen will be one of the top seeds when the postponed Billabong Pro presented by Sony gets underway at Whangamata in two weeks time (10-12 Feb). CREDIT: PhotoCPL

Delay Forced on Billabong Pro This Weekend

Thursday 26 January 2012, 9:17AM
By Surfing New Zealand Inc
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WHANGAMATA

The Billabong Pro presented by Sony, scheduled to take place at Whangamata this weekend 28th - 30th January, has been postponed due to an unfavourable swell forecast.

The second of four events on the New Zealand Pro Series has been rescheduled for 10th - 12th February at Whangamata. The event now coincides with Event Two of the Billabong Grom Series presented by Oceanbridge scheduled for the same weekend.

"The calendar of events is full for summer so we thought it would be a great opportunity to hold the Billabong Pro on the same weekend as the Grom Series at Whanga and make an action packed weekend of it" Billabong Events Manager AJ Matthews said.

The Billabong Pro will remain a three day event commencing on Friday 10th February while the Grom Series will start on Saturday 11th February as originally scheduled. Combined with the two surfing events will be the land based activities with Skinny bringing horizontal bungy and slum dunk as well as a massive blow up soccer pitch to the beach.

"We are sure the groms will enjoy surfing as part of a bigger event and sharing the weekend with all of the best surfers in New Zealand" Matthews said.

It was a tough decision to postpone the event but after assessing conditions for the early part of this week with differing outlooks, the forecast took a turn for the worst overnight Tuesday forcing the postponement.

"It was looking promising for a small swell to build through Sunday and into Monday which would have allowed us to complete the event but that changed last night and the swell has been pushed out by 24 hours" Matthews said.

When the event recommences, New Zealand's top echelon of surfers will converge on Whangamata. The delay could allow the return from injury of Maz Quinn (Gis) who missed the recent National Championships held at Piha due to a back injury.

New National Champion Billy Stairmand who was entered in this weekend's event will now be unavailable alongside Matt Hewitt (Mnt), the two surfers competing in an international event in Queensland, Australia. Likewise Jay Quinn (Gis) and defending champion of the event, Richard Christie (Mah), will be surfing in an event in Brazil to start their international campaign for 2012.

The absence of these four surfers will open the stage for the remainder of the field to step up to the winners podium for the first time this year and build some rating points on the New Zealand Pro Series. Finalists at the National Champs, Chris Malone (Gis) and Tim O'Connor (Mnt) will want to continue with their good form and the return of Bobby Hansen (Gis) will also bring some much anticipated hype to the event.

In the Women's Division, new National Champion Thandi Durham - Tipene (Tara) will be out to impress yet again while 2011 National Champion Airini Mason (Chch) has also entered the event with both surfers expected to raise the bar in the division.

The Under 20 Men's Division will contest their first event of the year at the Billabong Pro presented by Sony. Great Barrier's Sid West will go into the event as the number one seed after placing fourth overall in 2011. He will be challenged by the likes of Ben Poulter (Rag), Alex Dive (Mnt) and Tane Wallis (Piha).

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.

Open Men's
2007 - Daniel Kereopa (Rag)
2008 - Maz Quinn (Gis)
2009 - Bobby Hansen (Gis)
2010 - Maz Quinn (Gis)
2011 - Richard Christie (Mah)

Open Women's
2007 - Jessica Santorik (Rag)
2008 - Jessica Santorik (Rag)
2009 - Laura Rishworth (Mnt)
2010 - Jessica Santorik (Rag)
2011 - Sarah Mason (Gis)

Juniors
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)