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Maiden Victories for Moretti and Tawharu

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Paul Moretti (Mur) and Elin Tawharu (Mnt) have claimed their maiden New Zealand Surf Series victories today (8th December) winning the season-ending Backdoor Pro presented by Billabong held at Fitzroy Beach, New Plymouth.

The event was relocated to Fitzroy Beach with the pending weather for the day looking ominous.  However the surf ranged between 1.0m – 1.5m and despite the moderate onshore winds from the northwest, the waves were highly contestable.

Moretti surfed to a 15.5 point heat total in the final to win his first national event since he was 12 years old.  His final was highlighted by a quick start and near-perfect 8.83 point ride in the opening minutes.

“I am so stoked to keep the momentum going through the whole comp, normally I choke up in the final a little bit but I got a couple of waves and I am stoked to take the win over everyone who were ripping as well” said Moretti.

“I would like to say it was all me and good strategy but the start of the heat was the best part, I got that one good wave right away and that set up the rest of it, it gave me the confidence for the rest of the final” continued Moretti who has found himself on the losing end of many finals in his career.

Runner up surfer Billy Stairmand (Rag) fought back from a big deficit in the final to finish with a 13.3 point heat total but the outgoing tide impacted conditions as the final went on.

Stairmand, by way of his second place finish did enough to leap to the top of the NZ Surf Series standings for the year, his third straight title.

Finishing in third place in the final was local New Plymouth surfer Jarred Hancox with a 12.57 point heat total.  Whitianga surfer Jay Piper Healion finished in fourth contesting his first ever final.

Elin Tawharu found herself in a precarious position in the final of the Open Women’s Division with no more than two minutes on the clock and a 2.0 point heat total.  However the young Mount Maunganui surfer flipped the script with a 7.33 point ride that jumped her from fourth to first leaving her opponents no time to react as she walked away with the event win, the first of her career.

“Up until that last wave I was thinking I was losing and having a shocker, I was struggling to find the right wave or any type of flow, I was stoked to get that final wave” she said of her situation.
“The swell had dropped a lot compared to yesterday at Stent.  I targeted those rights that were coming through and I finally got one in the end.”

Tawharu’s win pushed Aimee Brown (Great Barrier) back into second and with that, she finished second overall on the New Zealand Surf Series rankings behind Raiha Ensor (Mnt).

Zhana Hutchison (Tara) finished the final in third overall with Raglan’s Brie Bennett finishing in fourth.

Whangarei surfer Tom Robinson won the Under 18 Boys Division edging past local surfer Tom Butland in the final 11.90 to 11.60.  Robinson had to come from behind in the final with his last two waves his best late in the heat and enough to surpass Butland who started out hot, but came up just short on his second scoring ride.

Raglan’s Jayden Willoughby finished third in the final ahead of Jack Hinton (Mnt) in fourth, all four surfers competing up a division from their preferred Under 16 Boys category.

Gabrielle Paul (Piha) stormed to her first win of the season in the Under 18 Girls Division.  The young Piha surfer, contesting her final junior event of her career, surfed to a 13.17 point heat total in the final.  Paul featured in the final of every event she contested in 2019, finally coming away with a win.

Placing second was Brie Bennett (Rag) who rode to the highest single wave score of 7.23 points but came up short on a backup wave catching it seconds after final finished.

Mount Maunganui surfer Georgia Wederell finished in third place which was enough for her to hold on to the under one ranking over Paul who jumped to second.

Please see below for final results from the Backdoor Pro pres by Billabong held at Fitzroy Beach, New Plymouth today, Sunday 8th December.

Open Men’s Division Semifinals
Heat 1

Paul Moretti (Nrthlnd), 15.23, 1, Billy Stairmand (Rag), 14.44, 2, Taylor Hutchison (Rag), 10.96, 3, Alex Dive (Mnt), 8.27, 4
Heat 2
Jarred Hancox (Tara), 10.67, 1, Jay Piper – Healion (Whiti), 9.43, 2, Daniel Farr (Tara), 8.70, 3, Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 8.36, 4

Open Men’s Division Final
Paul Moretti (Nrthlnd), 15.5, 1, Billy Stairmand (Rag), 13.3, 2, Jarred Hancox (Tara), 12.57, 3, Jay Piper – Healion (Whiti), 6.53, 4

Under 18 Boys Division Semifinals
Heat 1

Jack Hinton (Mnt), 9.14, 1, Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 8.4, 2, Lucca Lind (Tara), 5.57, 3
Heat 2
Tom Butland (Tara), 16.5, 1, Jayden Willoughby (Rag), 15.13, 2, Taylor O’Leary (Mur), 13.03, 3

Under 18 Boys Division Final
Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 11.9, 1, Tom Butland (Tara), 11.6, 2, Jayden Willoughby (Rag), 10.3, 3, Jack Hinton (Mnt), 10.2, 4

Open Women’s Division Final
Elin Tawahru (Mnt), 8.93, 1, Aimee Brown (GB), 8.16, 2, Zhana Hutchieson (Tara), 7.13, 3, Brie Bennett (Rag), 5.23, 4

Under 18 Girls Division Final
Gabrielle Paul (Auck), 13.7, 1, Brie Bennett (Rag), 11.9, 2, Georgia Wederell (Mnt), 10, 3


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.

For more information on the Backdoor Pro presented by Billabong please contact Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz.  Alternatively contact Backdoor via Geoff Hutchison – hutch@backdoor.co.nz.

Event Hotline
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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