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O’Conner Returns to Defend Canterbury Champs Title

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Kaikoura’s Levi O’Conner returns to Christchurch this weekend to defend his title in the Exit Surf Men’s Canterbury Surfing Championships.

The 30-year-old surfer competes selectively, and predominantly in the South Island, although has ventured north to compete once this year.  With his smooth style groomed on the right-handers of Kaikoura’s Mangamaunu, O’Conner often sticks to home-based events but in 2018 blew away the field at the Canterbury Champs.

This weekend he returns for a title defence where he will take on four of the top ten ranked surfers in New Zealand at the final South Island based event as the national season draws to a close.  Surfers will vie for significant ranking points before the final event being held at Raglan the following weekend.

O’Conner will also face off against the four finalists from the most recent South Island Championships held over Easter.  Dunedin’s Elliott Brown finished third last weekend and was runner up to O’Conner in 2018.  Brown is slowly finding form this year and his explosive style of surfing can match that of O’Conner when it all clicks for the teenager.

Amongst the North Island surfers making the trip south for the event are four that will want to push for the win.  Number three ranked Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch), Caleb Cutmore (Rag) and Jack Lee (Whakatane) will all be looking for a podium finish as will tenth ranked Maz Quinn (Gis) who makes an appearance this weekend at an event he last won in 2016.

The Exit Surf Canterbury Champs also includes age group divisions with a small but talent laden field of surfers ready to surf off against one another.  The aforementioned Cutmore and Lee will lead the way in the Under 18 Boys Division.

Finn Vette (Gis) and Jayden Willoughby (Rag) will contest the Under 16 Boys Division as the top two seeds but will be weary of another Kaikoura surfer in Reuben Lyons who won the most recent event in Dunedin.

The two Christchurch Jack’s in McKenzie and Tyro lead the all South Island field in the Under 14 Boys Division.

Zen Wallis (Piha) and Hugh Ritchie (Chch) will do battle again in the Men’s Longboard Division, the two top seeds having been going head-to-head all year.  Wallis got the nod in 2018 but Ritchie got the nod at last weekend’s Dunedin event for his first win of the season.

The dual sanctioned event with the South Island Surfing Association has the Over 30s and Over 45s Division which features South Island’s top senior talent.

The three-day event takes place from Friday through until Sunday (26 – 28 April) along the Christchurch coastline from Taylors Mistake to Gore Bay.  Participants across the eight divisions will be vying for $10,000 in cash and prizes.

Action will take place from 8am each day and finals are scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

The Exit Surf Men’s Canterbury Championships is the fifth of seven events on the 2019 New Zealand Surf Series.  See below for remaining events:

Backdoor Oceanbridge Manu Bay Pro, Raglan – 3-5 May
Backdoor BayBash, location TBC – 16-17 November

Please see below for the current New Zealand Surf Series and Grom Series rankings after the most recent event – the Emerson’s South Island Championships held at Dunedin during Easter Weekend.

Open Men’s Division Top 10
1, Billy Stairmand (Rag)
2, Taylor Hutchison (Rag)
3, Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch)
4, Callum Chuter (Mnt)
5, Caleb Cutmore (Ham)
6, Zen Wallis (Piha)
7, Dune Kennings (Whmata)
8, Alex Dive (Mnt)
9, Jarred Hancox (Tara)
10, Maz Quinn (Gis)

Men’s Longboard Top 5
1, Zen Wallis (Piha)
2, Hugh Ritchie (Chch)
3, Michael Grendon (Tara)
3, Paul Culpan (Auck)
5, Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck)
5, Glen Johnson (Auck)

Under 18 Boys Top 5
1, Caleb Cutmore (Ham)
2, Taylor O’Leary (Mur)
3, Jack Lee (Whaka)
4, Luke Griffin (Mnt)
5, Jack Rosewarne (Ham)

Under 16 Boys Top 5
1, Tom Butland (Tara)
2, Tom Robinson (Whngrei)
3, Finn Vette (Gis)
4, Jayden Willoughby (Rag)
5, Kora Cooper (Rag)

Under 14 Boys Top 5
1, Bill Byers (Piha)
2, Tai Erceg-Gray (Whngrei)
3, Navryn Malone (Rag)
4, Jack Mckenzie (Waikuku)
5, Ryder Pennington (Tara)

For more information on the Exit Surf Men’s Canterbury Championships please contact Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz.  Alternatively contact Russell Ritchie on 0274325972 – russell.ritchie@xtra.co.nz.

The Exit Surf Men’s Canterbury Surfing Championships would not be possible without the support of Exit Surf, Make, Eruption Brewery, Pier Lodge, Dave’s Carpet Installations, Robertson and McKenzie families, host club North Wai Boardriders and the South Island Surfing Association.

High resolution images will be available to media upon request. Images will be distributed free of charge.

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