Performance levels at the Billabong Pro presented by Sony being held at Whangamata were intense today (Friday 10th February) with Buck Woods one of many standout Gisborne surfers.
The small swell continued to build to the predicted 1.0m mark after a slow start to the day.
Woods, surfing his first domestic event in over a year, was one surfer that capitalised on the improving conditions as he pressed through to the quarterfinals of the Open Men's Division.
The afternoon sea breeze suited Woods who completed some impressive turns to post a 13.73 point heat total for progression alongside fellow Gisborne surfer Blair Stewart.
"Yeah I am pretty happy after that heat" Woods said. "I have been surfing a lot and I am feeling confident with my surfing and these waves suit my style so I am looking forward to the next two days" he added.
Woods is yet to win a national event in the Open Division, his best result a runner up placing in 2010 at Raglan. Woods has also spent much of the last two years chasing the Australasian Pro Junior Series and has been absent from the domestic scene.
Woods along with Stewart, who posted 12.93 points, eliminated the number one seeded surfer at the Billabong Pro, Chris Malone (Gis). Malone placed runner up at the National Championships at Piha in January and this result will be a set back to his national ranking.
Gisborne's Maz Quinn fired back into form today placing second to number two ranked surfer Tim O'Connor (Mnt). Quinn has only been back in the water for a week after a back injury he suffered six weeks ago. Quinn produced some of the sharpest surfing of the day with his trademark forehand hacks to score 13.33 out of 20.
O'Connor who beat Quinn also made the finals of the National Championships finishing third and today took the win over Quinn despite feeling that he had more left in him as the event heads into the later rounds.
Raglan surfers Luke Hughes and Mike Banks also notched up wins today turning their heats late in the piece, particularly Hughes who left his run until the last few minutes to overtake Taranaki surfers Keone Campbell and Bachelor Tipene.
Piha surfer Tane Wallis looked sharp as ever with some polished tight backhand surfing. Wallis posted a 12.27 point heat total for the win and will now face day one stand out Buck Woods in the quarterfinals as well as Keone Campbell and Leon Santorik (Rag).
The Open Women's Division saw the return to form of Jessica Santorik (Rag) who easily won her first round heat to move through to the semifinals scoring 13.60 out of 20. Santorik was a shock early exit at the National Championships but was happy with her performance today in what she described as the "best conditions of the day." Santorik will meet three of the younger competitors in the semifinals - Jasmine Smith (Gis), Ella Williams (WGM) and Gabriela Sansom (Auck).
It was the second of the Sansom twins, Bianca that produced a stellar performance in her heat posting 11.97 points to move through to the semifinals. Despite placing second, Bianca eliminated 2011 New Zealand Pro Series champion Grace Spiers who placed third.
Gisborne's Jayda Martin - Fitzharris easily won the final heat of the round and will now meet Rosa Thompson (Auck), Bianca Sansom (Auck) and 2012 National Champion Thandi Durham (Tara) who won her first round match up today.
The Under 20s Division got underway first thing in the morning with Sean Kettle (Tara) revelling in the clean morning conditions. Kettle rattled off a number of air reverses in his heat to post the rounds highest score of 16.57 out of 20 points.
Kettle set the standard from heat one with all the other junior surfers looking to take to the air in their heats and clock up the big scores. Paul Moretti (Mimiwhangata) followed in the same rich vein of form with some big turns and a backhand air reverse to win his heat and move through to the quarterfinals.
Young local Ella Williams decided that she would like to take on the boys and went on to win her first heat with some big forehand hooks. Williams posted 11.10 points to win her heat and upset the boys in the heat - Kehu Butler (who also progressed), Manu Scott - Arrieta (Sandy Bay) and Wiremu Ormsby (Rag).
Other surfers to excel and move through to the quarterfinals included Mackenzie Christie (BOP), number one seed Sid West (Gt Barrier), and Levi Stewart (Waihi Beach).
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 results from day one of the Billabong Grom Series pres by Sony held at Whangamata Beach today (Friday 10th February).
Open Men's Division Round of 48
Luke Hughes (Rag), 12.43, 1, Chris Amess (Whmata), 9.4, 2, Deane Hishon (Rag), 5.87, 3, Ben Connolly (Tara), 3.83, 4
Mike Banks (Rag), 10.73, 1, Bachelor Tipene (Tara), 9.57, 2, Vinicius De Oliveira Leite (Auck), 7, 3, Josh Taylor (Mnt), 6.1, 4
Sid West (Gt Barrier), 14.23, 1, Buck Woods (Gis), 12.5, 2, Tim Thompson (Auck), 7.83, 3, Christo Gilbert (H-Bay), 7.73, 4
Sean Kettle (Tara), 10.5, 1, Scott Casey (Auck), 10.43, 2, Patxi Scott Arrieta (Sandy Bay), 7.53, 3, Harrison Whiteside (ChCh), 6.47, 4
Sean Peggs (Tairua), 15.5, 1, Manu Scott Arrieta (Sandy Bay), 10.23, 2, Eli MacDonald, 9.87, 3, Corey Asplin (Rag), 8.4, 4
Tyler Anderson (Tara), 12.2, 1, Jules Craft (Gis), 11.33, 2, Sam Willis (Gis), 10.67, 3, Lyndon Hutton (Dun), 9.93, 4
Dune Kennings (Whmata), 11.6, 1, Mac Christie (Mnt), 11.2, 2, Josh Kettle (Tara), 11.07, 3, Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch), 10.07, 4
Bobby Hansen (Gis), 16.5, 1, Braedon Williams (Whmata), 11.17, 2, Ricky Parker (Whmata), 8.87, 3, Waretini Wano (Piha), 7.63, 4
Open Men's Division Round of 32
Luke Hughes (Rag), 12.57, 1, Keone Campbell (Tara), 11.17, 2, Bachelor Tipene (Tara), 11.13, 3, Adam Grimson (Gis), 10.07, 4
Mike Banks (Rag), 15.43, 1, Leon Santorik (Rag), 11.57, 2, Chris Amess (Whmata), 10.97, 3, Joe Moretti (Mimiwhangata), 9.6, 4
Tane Wallis (Piha), 12.27, 1, Larry Fisher (Rag), 11.83, 2, Sid West (Gt Barrier), 10, 3, Scott Casey (Auck), 7.63, 4
Buck Woods (Gis), 13.73, 1, Blair Stewart (Gis), 12.93, 2, Sean Kettle (Tara), 12.07, 3, Chris Malone (Gis), 9.93, 4
Tim O'Connor (Mnt), 13.53, 1, Maz Quinn (Gis), 13.33, 2, Sean Peggs (Tairua), 11.17, 3, Jules Craft (Gis), 9.4, 4
Matt Scorringe (Whmata), 12.67, 1, Elliot Paerata Reid (Piha), 9.5, 2, Tyler Anderson (Tara), 9.27, 3, Manu Scott Arrieta (Sandy Bay), 6.43, 4
Dune Kennings (Whmata), 13.83, 1, Zen Wallis (Piha), 11.83, 2, Paul Moretti (Mimiwhangata), 9.87, 3, Braedon Williams (Whmata), 9.7, 4
Bobby Hansen (Gis), 12.77, 1, Ben Kennings (Whmata), 10.2, 2, Jarred Hancox (Tara), 10.1, 3, Mac Christie (Mnt), 7.17, 4
Open Women's Division Round 1
Jessica Santorik (Rag), 13.6, 1, Bianca Sansom (Auck), 11.97, 2, Grace Spiers (Whmata), 10.5, 3, Robyn Turnbull (Mangawhai), 2.63, 4
Thandi Tipene (Tara), 11.87, 1, Jasmine Smith (Gis), 10.3, 2, Nicola Colson-Koster (Auck), 6.5, 3
Ella Williams (Whmata), 11.17, 1, Rosa Thompson (Auck), 7.87, 2, Marguerite Vujich (Napier), 1.93, 3
Jayda Martin-Fitzharris (Gis), 12.77, 1, Gabriella Sansom (Auck), 9.27, 2, Jasmine Debeer (Gis), 4.4, 3
Junior Men's Round of 32
Sean Kettle (Tara), 16.57, 1, Elliot Paerata Reid (Piha), 13.1, 2, Patxi Scott Arrieta (Sandy Bay), 10, 3, Jules Craft (Gis), 6.33, 4
Mackenzie Christie (Tau), 13.1, 1, Adam Grimson (Gis), 12.57, 2, Wade Kindred (Auck), 8.6, 3, McKenzie Bowden (Whmata), 8.13, 4
Kahu Craig-Ranga (Waihi Bch), 8.97, 1, Waretini Wano (Piha), 8.17, 2, Josh Kettle (Tara), 8.03, 3, Josh Taylor (Tau), 5.57, 4
Sid West (Gt Barrier), 12.23, 1, Corey Asplin (Ham), 11.1, 2, Eli Macdonald (Waitara), 8.6, 3
Joe Moretti (Mimiwhangata), 10.77, 1, Nat Hughes (Rag), 7.77, 2, Jordan Hart (Tara), 2.6, 3
Ella Williams (Whmata), 11.1, 1, Kehu Butler (Arataki), 9.17, 2, Manu Scott Arrieta (Sandy Bay), 7.6, 3, Wiremu Ormsby (Rag) , 2.92, 4
Paul Moretti (Mimiwhangata), 15.07, 1, Tane Wallis (Piha), 10.17, 2, Dillon Tarrant (Ham), 7.63, 3
Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch), 9.67, 1, Dune Kennings (Whmata), 6.37, 2, Fintan Cram (Whmata), 5.5, 3, Harrison Whiteside, 4.93, 4