Piha Set To Host NZ’s Top Surfers For National ChampionshipsFriday, January 9, 2015
Auckland’s Piha Beach is set to host New Zealand’s top surfers next week for the 2015 Billabong National Surfing Championships driven by Subaru. Regarded as the most prestigious surfing event in New Zealand, the hot action at the Champs commences this Sunday and runs through to the 17th January.
Amongst the annual congregation of surfers hailing from the length of the country will be explosive natural footer Billy Stairmand from Raglan. Stairmand is the defending champion of the Open Men’s Division and has won the event on three occasions (2010, 2012, 2014).
Above: Defending national champion Billy Stairmand (Rag). Stairmand will be contesting the 2015 Billabong
National Surfing Championships driven by Subaru
National Surfing Championships driven by Subaru
Stairmand was side-by-side with the country’s latest surfing icon Richard Christie (Gis) as the two battled to qualify for the 2015 World Surfing League. Christie secured the 32nd and final place on the World Surfing League (WSL), the first Kiwi male to do so in 15 years. However, Stairmand fell just short finishing thirteen places outside the cut off.
Stairmand will be back contesting the Qualifying Series in 2015. He will be competing at events with Christie who will contest both tours to increase his chances of qualifying for a second year at the pinnacle of the sport. Stairmand and Christie’s first event is in Sydney on the 9th of February but before that Stairmand will look to claim a fourth national title in the build up to his international campaign.
“I mean, that is the goal to start the year with a title” said Stairmand of the pending week of competition.
“It is obviously not as serious as the international events but the Nationals is good way to get heats under my belt, put in some water time and get the competitive jive going after the festive season” added Stairmand who admits he enjoys the week-long event for catching up with mates from around the country just as much as competing.
Reflecting on 2014 Stairmand admitted it was a ‘crazy end to the year’ with all the numbers and qualification scenarios being thrown around.
“It was hard to block out all the qualification talk. I knew it was a big ask for me to make the final at Sunset and qualify and it didn’t happen. But I knew Ric had it in him, he surfs Sunset Beach well, and it went his way. When his qualification was officially announced I gave him a call straight away” said Stairmand.
Despite not qualifying, Stairmand was still stoked with his result last year and feels that he is improving every year, learning more and travelling with different people to learn new approaches to competition. “Hopefully this year is bigger and better. I am certainly fit and ready for action” Stairmand said.
Stairmand will go into the Nationals as the highest internationally ranked surfer now that Christie is now contracted to the WSL and ineligible to compete in non-WSL-sanctioned events.
The Nationals will also miss the presence of Paige Hareb (Tara) and Ella Williams (WGM), New Zealand’s highest internationally ranked female surfers, both of whom will be competing in China at their first WSL Qualifying Series event for 2015.
Defending Open Women’s Division champion Grace Spiers (WGM) is also out injured with ongoing back trouble that saw her efforts hampered during the World Surfing Games held in Peru late last year.
That leaves a large field of females with a relatively young look, the vast majority under the age of twenty. Only one previous champion, Mischa Davis (Piha), is in the large field of female surfers. Davis won the title when the event was last held at Piha in 2013. Her knowledge of the break and extensive competitive experience will see her as a tough opponent to beat for the young up and comers next week.
Gisborne Boardriders Club will be out to defend the Interclub Championship they secured in home waters in 2014. The Interclub Championship sees boardrider clubs from around the country go up against each other for provincial honours. Each club’s five best results across an array of divisions count toward their overall team points. Local Auckland clubs along with previous winners Point Boardriders (Raglan) and Bay Boardriders (Mount Maunganui) will be clubs to watch.
In the 52 year history of the event the National Championships has grown to encompass 23 divisions spread across all disciplines and age groups. This makes for a largely inclusive event filled with high level surfing as well as good times in and out of the water.
Over 250 entries have been received for the event which caters for every surfing discipline and age group on offer. Divisions comprise of age groups from Under 14 through to Over 60s and also Longboard, Stand Up Paddleboard and Kneeboard disciplines.
The 2015 Billabong National Surfing Championships driven by Subaru runs from the 11th – 17th January. It is the eleventh time the event has been held at Piha. The event is hosted by Lion Rock Boardriders Club.
The event schedule is set out below. The days listed are the earliest possible start days for each division.
Sunday 11th – Open, Under 18, Under 16, Under 14
Monday 12th – Open Women, Under 18 Women, Under 16 Women, Senior Women plus day 1
Tuesday 13th – Open Longboard, Junior Longboard, Women’s Longboard, all SUP Surf divisions plus day 1 and 2 divisions
Wednesday 14th – Senior Men’s Divisions plus days 1, 2 and 3 divisions
Thursday 15th – All divisions
Friday 16th – All divisions plus Kneeboard
Saturday 17th - All divisions plus SUP Race
Set out below are winners of the major divisions contested for the past five years.
2010 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2011 – Jay Quinn (Gis)
2012 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2013 – Jay Quinn (Gis)
2014 – Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2010 – Laura Rishworth (Mnt)
2011 – Airini Mason (Chch)
2012 – Thandi Durham (Tara)
2013 – Mischa Davis (Piha)
2014 – Grace Spiers (WGM)
Junior Men (U/18)
2010 – Johnny Hicks (Gis)
2011 – Ben Poulter (Rag)
2012 – Tane Wallis (Auck)
2013 – Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha)
2014 – Dune Kennings (WGM)
2010 – Dylan Barnfield (Ohope)
2011 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
2012 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
2013 – Daniel Procter (Gis)
2014 – Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
2014 Interclub Championship Results
1, Gisborne Boardriders
2, Whangamata Boardriders
3, Point Boardriders
4, New Plymouth Surfriders
5, Maori Bay Boardriders