Pack Set To Chase Kibblewhite At Mount Maunganui

Thursday 16 February 2012, 4:54PM
By Surfing New Zealand Inc


The penultimate round of the Hyundai Tour is set for a start at Mount Maunganui this weekend with the field of Open Men's Division surfers in a do-or-die situation to catch ratings leader Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck).

Kibblewhite has led the Hyundai Tour from the outset after winning the first event at Raglan in January. He then went on to win the Hyundai National Championships at Piha before placing third at the most recent event at Sandy Bay where he was the highest placed Kiwi in the international field of surfers.

A win this weekend would see him only required to enter the water and finish in last place at the final event of the year at Port Waikato for the Auckland surfer to take out the tour for the first time.

Favouring his opponents this weekend is the small swell forecast for the Bay of Plenty which potentially evens up the field and allows some of the small wave exponents to set their foot work free.

Kibblewhite's closest opponent is 2010 Hyundai Tour Champion Dylan Barnfield (Ohope). Barnfield has had an indifferent year placing runner up to Kibblewhite in the first event and then finishing the next two events in ninth place. In order for Barnfield to win the tour and the trip to Australia to compete in an international event, he needs to finish several places higher than Kibblewhite at each of the last two events.

Mangawhai surfer Matt Cockayne is in the same situation trailing Barnfield by 17 points on the rankings and only just in touch with Kibblewhite but still a chance of claiming his first event Tour title.

The biggest field of the year for female surfers enters the water this weekend with several international competitors giving the event a go. The title race is much closer for the girls with any of the top ten surfers mathematically in with a chance of claiming the Tour. However it is Mischa Davis (Piha) who leads the pack after winning the first event and placing third and fifth in the last two events. Davis is closely followed by Anna Jolly (Piha), Alexis Poulter (Rag) and Sasha Brownlie (Auck) with those four surfers having a jump on the rest of the pack.

The burgeoning field of stand up paddleboarders will have to sit bac and watch the two horse race between defending champion Daniel Kereopa (Rag) and Shayne Baxter (Chch). Baxter has played bridesmaid to Kereopa for the past two years. Out of three events in 2012 it is 2-1 to Kereopa with Baxter claiming the most prestigious event - the National Championships. A win this weekend by Baxter will set up an epic clash for the final event of the year.

Baxter is also part of a leading pack of paddlers in the King of the Waves Paddle Race where he is ranked third equal. Raglan paddler Armie Armstrong will go into this weekends event wearing the red jersey as the ratings leader with Jeremy Stephenson (Auck) in white as runner up.

An undefeated Brian Young leads the Over 40 Men's Division after winning two from two events in 2012 and will be hard to peg back. However Mount Maunganui local Guy Rencher placed runner up at the last event and is coming into some form that could see him challenge for the title.

The Over 50 Men's Division is another two horse race with 2011 runner up Mike Thomson (Rag) looking to peg back new comer Mark Hoyle (Auck). The two surfers have a win a piece however, with Hoyle's win coming at the six star event held at Sandy Bay over Waitangi Weekend, he has a slim points advantage.

Action takes place at Tay Street from 8:00am - 4:00pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Please see below for the top five rated surfers in the seven divisions contested:

Hyundai Tour Open Men's Division
1, Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
2, Dylan Barnfield (Ohope)
3, Matt Cockayne (Mngwhai)
4, Zen Wallis (Piha)
5, Ant McColl (Mnt)

Hyundai Tour Open Women's
1, Mischa Davis (Oratia)
2, Anna Jolly (Piha)
3, Alexis Poulter (Rag)
4, Sasha Brownlie (Auck)
5, Belinda Goodwin (Mt)

Hyundai Tour Under 18 Boys
1, Sam Poulter (Rag)
2, Nic Jones (Aust)
3, Ben Poulter (Rag)
4, Paul Moretti
5, Luke Crouch (Orewa)

Hyundai Tour Over 40s
1, Brian Young (Orewa)
2, Guy Rencher (waihi Bch)
3, Tatana Heke (Mnt)
4, Steve Tyro (Rag)
5, Whare Heke (Mnt)

Hyundai Tour Over 50s
1, Mark Hoyle (Orewa)
2, Mike Thomson (Rag)
3, Grant Cochrane (ChCh)
4, David Storck (Auck)
5, Rupert Newbold (Whngrei)
5, Scotty Riach (Auck)

Hyundai Tour Stand Up Paddleboard
1, Daniel Kereopa (Rag)
2, Shayne Baxter (ChCh)
3, Armie Armstrong (Rag)
4, Karlos Aarsen (Whmata)
5, Sean Hovell (Gis)

Hyundai Tour Stand Up Paddleboard Race
1, Armie Armstrong (Rag)
2, Jeremy Stephenson (Auck)
3, Sean Hovell (Gis)
3, Shayne Baxter (Chch)
5, Warwick Grey (Waihi Beach)

The remaining event for the 2012 Hyundai Tour follow:

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.