The 2019 New Zealand Surf Series will be determined this weekend with the Backdoor Pro presented by Billabong providing the stage for the final event of the year.
Four surfers in the Men’s Division have the chance to topple Waihi Beach surfer Levi Stewart and claim the title.
The Women’s Division has been whittled down to a head-to-head battle where current ratings leader Raiha Ensor (Mnt) will go up against National Champion Aimee Brown (Great Barrier) to see who finishes the year on top.
Big performances at the Backdoor Pro will have a major bearing on qualification for the New Zealand Trials at the World Surf League Challenger Series event – the Piha Pro being held in March next year. The top three surfers on the rankings will qualify for the trials and a chance to claim one of two wildcards into the main event. The final qualification option will be at the National Championships in Dunedin early next month.
Stewart has finalled in two events this year with a runner up finish at Mount Maunganui and a third place finish at Raglan. His consistent form sees him hold a slender lead over two New Zealand Junior Representatives in Caleb Cutmore (Rag) and Jack Lee (Whaka). However, anything short of a win at the event will leave the series in the balance and Stewart relying on other results to go his way.
Additional challengers for the overall title include Raglan’s Billy Stairmand (Rag) and Taylor Hutchison. Two time defending series champion Stairmand returns from Hawaii late this week as the highest ranked Kiwi on the World Qualifying Series. He finished 25th in the final event of the year which saw him climb to 69th overall.
Ensor also competed selectively at international events this year including being a teammate of Stairmand’s at the World Surfing Games in Japan. Ensor won the Rip Curl Pro Raglan and was runner up at two further events in 2019. Her closest rival, Amiee Brown, won the National Championships in Taranaki and the Backdoor Oceanbridge Manu Bay Pro in May and will be looking for a third title this weekend.
The junior division rankings have already been sealed with Caleb Cutmore (Rag) and Georgia Wederell (Mnt) holding unassailable leads in the Under 18 Divisions. Therefore, the Backdoor Pro presented by Billabong will come down to some final glory opportunities for those surfers that will be stepping up to the Open Division in 2020.
Local Taranaki surfer Tom Butland has been in good form recently, winning the National Scholastic Championships as well as representing New Zealand at the ISA World Junior Championships and then again at the Oceania Cup completed in Samoa late last month. Butland will lead out a number of local surfers at the event.
The Backdoor Pro presented by Billabong is the seventh and final event of the 2019 New Zealand Surf Series which caters for New Zealand’s top male and female surfers. The series started in Taranaki in January and has seen events held at Mount Maunganui, Raglan, Dunedin and Canterbury.
The Backdoor Pro pres by Billabong will be contested over two days along Taranaki’s coastline with all finals being held on Sunday. The event will be mobile.
The large weather system situated in the Tasman is expected to impact the West Coast of New Zealand over the latter half of the weekend with big swells and northerly winds prevailing over the two days.
Please see below for the New Zealand Surf Series rankings. Full rankings can be viewed here.
Open Men’s Division Top 10
1, Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch)
2, Caleb Cutmore (Ham)
3, Jack Lee (Whaka)
4, Billy Stairmand (Rag)
5, Maz Quinn (Gis)
6, Taylor Hutchison (Rag)
7, Zen Wallis (Piha)
8, Dune Kennings (Whmata)
9, Callum Chuter (Mnt)
10, Luke Cederman (Rag)
Open Women’s Division Top 10
1, Raiha Ensor (Mnt)
2, Aimee Brown (GB)
3, Saffi Vette (Gis)
4, Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara)
5, Gabrielle Paul (Piha)
6, Billie Scott (Whangarei)
7, Ella Williams (Whmata)
8, Brie Bennett (Rag)
9, Georgia Wederell (Mnt)
10, Lily McDonald (Te Aroha)
For more information on the Backdoor Pro presented by Billabong please contact Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively contact Backdoor via Geoff Hutchison – email@example.com.
The Surfing New Zealand event hotline is 0211134506. This will be updated daily at with venues, divisions contested and conditions.
Generous support from Backdoor Surf Shop, Billabong, Channel Island Surfboards and FCS Hardware has made this event possible.
High resolution images will be available to media upon request. Images will be distributed free of charge.
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