Pre­sented by Gal­braith's

New Zealand Surfing - - Essentials -

There’s some­thing truly mag­i­cally in­spir­ing when the two forces of the long left-hand walls of Raglan and NZ’s best surfers com­bine! Yet this is ex­actly what tran­spires once a year when the Rip Curl Pro rocks into the Waikato town of Raglan. With the pic­ture post­card im­age of long cor­duroy stacked lines wrap­ping onto the con­toured points which lay be­neath the mys­ti­cal Mt Kar­ioi cap­tur­ing the at­ten­tion of surfers through­out the world since the 1960’s, Raglan has grown from a sleepy sea­side town to a surf­ing Mecca of the world. The con­sis­tency and the qual­ity of the waves on of­fer any day of the year make Raglan one of the most sought-after des­ti­na­tions and the per­fect place to hold a com­pe­ti­tion, after all what com­peti­tors ap­pre­ci­ate the most is the chance to show­case their skills in waves that en­able a fair and level play­ing field. So, when the fore­cast for this year’s Rip Curl Raglan Pro de­liv­ered the type of num­bers that ex­cite wave rid­ers, the tal­ent be­gan to creep out of the wood­work with ev­ery­one want­ing a piece of the ac­tion. It even pulled some surfers out of re­tire­ment!

In 2016 Sky TV, ob­vi­ously ac­knowl­edg­ing the pop­u­lar­ity of surf­ing through their WSL Pop Up chan­nels, went live to air with the fi­nals day and a live feed of do­mes­tic surf­ing went out to the na­tion for the first time ever! This year they were back along with a more re­fined pro­fes­sional look­ing pack­age. While the fore­cast showed for pump­ing con­di­tions on the Fri­day and Satur­day, the events sched­uled fi­nal day was sup­posed to be Sun­day which looked not much big­ger than flat! En­ter the night­mare of shuf­fling plans and re-sched­ul­ing.

team of ded­i­cated per­sonal mak­ing sure the t’s are crossed and the i’s are dot­ted, quite of­ten this all goes unseen and un­ap­pre­ci­ated, at the end of the day ev­ery­one in­volved wants the best re­sult for the surfers and so in full kiwi ‘make it hap­pen’ mode, the three sched­uled days were squeezed into two. From first to last light of both days the ac­tion would be fu­ri­ous! Day one was a lit­tle slow off the mark with the fore­cast solid swell slow to show, yet through­out the day the swell built and be­gan to draw in on the point of Manu Bay. The beauty of Manu bay, the most in­side points of Raglan’s mul­ti­ple point set-up, is that it of­fers up qual­ity waves across the ti­dal range. High tide is all about long walls and on the low in solid con­di­tions the out­side sec­tion known as ‘The Ledge’ can of­fer up thick dredg­ing bar­rels fol­lowed by ta­pered walls down across the out­side sand bar. The usual sus­pects in both the men’s and women’s di­vi­sions were do­ing the busi­ness, but as was ear­lier high­lighted Raglan had drawn out of re­tire­ment the likes of the Queens of Manu Bay, Kelly (for­merly Clark­son) Mur­phy and Jess San­torik, who had been a few years out of the com­pe­ti­tion arena ded­i­cat­ing their time to moth­er­hood. Both were dis­play­ing their home break class as was ju­nior lo­cal girl Indica Ra­tima who ended up go­ing all the way to the fi­nal. Maz Quinn, who had re­cently an­nounced his re­tire­ment from the Na­tion­als, was on site and on form, while many were call­ing out Maz’s short lived re­tire­ment, he had ac­tu­ally never stated he was done for good, it was al­ways a pick and choose case by case ba­sis, and the lure of surf­ing epic waves at Raglan with three others was enough to en­tice one of our great­est surfers ever. Others to im­press early on were Great Bar­rier Is­land’s Sid West who at­tended the Raglan Surf Academy a few years back, and ex-pat Taranaki man Coby Perkovich who now lives in the Gold Coast. The Raglan Pro over its his­tory has al­ways at­tracted in­ter­na­tional surfers keen for a taste of the iconic wave, this year In­done­sia’s Us­man Trioko made the jour­ney to Rags. Us­man is con­sid­ered the King of Desert Point, re­garded as the best wave on the planet on its day, and here he was dur­ing the start of an epic sea­son with a big swell run­ning back home, tak­ing on the ki­wis at Manu Bay in his steamer, booties and gloves. Indo surfers have al­ways strug­gled to travel, es­pe­cially to cold wa­ter cli­mates, so it was epic to see his ap­pear­ance on our shores. An­other talk­ing point from day one was the per­for­mance of Luke Ce­d­er­man, who had racked up sev­eral of the days high­est scores, which is noth­ing un­usual! Luke has al­ways come out of the blocks fir­ing and col­lapsed be­fore the fin­ish line, could this be his year? With the last heat of the day see­ing the sun drop below the hori­zon, the fi­nals day was set and for those who could not make it to Raglan SKY would be rolling the fi­nals day LIVE the fol­low­ing morn­ing. Day two, fi­nals day dawned to a clean ruler edge swell on the points, the sun wasn’t up till just be­fore the first hooter sounded, but the day had all the in­gre­di­ents of be­ing magic; clear skies, warm temps, ex­cit­ing bat­tles in the wa­ter, and a crowd of record pro­por­tions filled in through the morn­ing till the point where Manu Bay re­serve was burst­ing at the seams with the only view­ing room left from the roofs of ve­hi­cles. Sky Sport were on site with their ar­mada of tech­nol­ogy, satel­lite dishes and drones that looked like some­thing out of Avatar, all throw­ing live footage back into the homes of kiwi fans.


Out on the wa­ter the quar­ter fi­nals of the men’s and semi-fi­nals of the women were com­pleted early morn­ing and the busi­ness end of the com­pe­ti­tion was un­der­way. 6X Na­tional Champ Billy Stair­mand was back from WQS du­ties along with El­liot Paer­ata- Reid and they both looked deadly, a re­sult of con­stant com­pe­ti­tion on the qual­i­fy­ing se­ries. Bobby Hansen, who hadn’t com­peted in a cou­ple of years, was an­other who saw the fore­cast and boosted up at the last minute and was hunt­ing vic­tory. Of course Maz and Matt He­witt were in the mix as ex­pected, lo­cal lad Tay­lor Hutchieson, who fin­ished a ca­reer best 2nd place ear­lier in the year at the Na­tional Champs, was also prov­ing lo­cal knowl­edge and cur­rent form was a deadly com­bi­na­tion and Sid West who we men­tioned ear­lier was sim­ply shred­ding tak­ing his run into the semi’s. Yet the big talk­ing point was the ‘Peo­ples Champ’ Luke Ce­d­er­man. Year after year Luke lays down the most im­pres­sive per­for­mance at some stage of the con­test, usu­ally very early on be­fore self-de­struc­t­ing. He had been load­ing the high­est scores all week­end and fans and fel­low com­peti­tors were gen­uinely ex­cited to see Luke go all the way, if you hadn’t heard al­ready Luke scored a 9.77 in the quar­ters back­ing it up with a 9.1. yet come the semis and only need­ing a low score Luke had a slip in judge­ment once again, de­cid­ing to go for all or noth­ing in a sit­u­a­tion where a sim­ple cut­back would have suf­ficed and upon fall­ing he did not make the fi­nal. So, the fi­nal of the men’s ended up an all nat­u­ral footed af­fair and the women’s an all goofy show­ing. Both fi­nals were su­per ex­cit­ing with the out­come com­ing down to the fi­nal waves rid­den by the last surfer, Jess San­torik in the women’s and Bobby Hansen in the men’s. Yet cur­rent World Qual­i­fy­ing Tour surfers Billy Stair­mand and Ella Wil­liams held that slight edge over their ri­vals, and were ap­pre­ci­ated by the panel of judges and took home the wins. For Billy the win couldn’t have come at a bet­ter time after re­cently los­ing his main fi­nan­cial spon­sor the con­test win­nings would be put to good use to fund his cam­paign for World Tour Qual­i­fi­ca­tion and Ella would take the win as a huge con­fi­dence boost into the ISA World Champs. It wouldn’t be a Rip Curl Raglan Pro with­out a good party at the YOT Club, and with the Sun­day now cleared it was time for all the com­peti­tors, friends and the com­mu­nity of Raglan to let down their hair, courtesy of Gal­braith's and get their groove on the D-floor to the sounds of the lat­est and great­est DJ Duo Man­grooves feat.. El­liot Paer­ataReid… Oh what a night! Un­til 2018, where plans to take the Rip Curl Raglan Pro ever big­ger and bet­ter have al­ready be­gun.. Stay Tuned.


LEFT TOP TO BOT­TOM: Manu Bay was burst­ing at the seams, the big­gest turn out in over 20 years. What they all came for! A per­fect peel­ing point break. The sun rises and the comp kicks into gear.

ABOVE: The most dev­as­tat­ing per­for­mance of the con­test! Luke Ce­d­er­man on his way to his 9.77 but you al­ready knew that, cause he’s told ev­ery­one.

TOP: Bobby Hansen gave it his all fin­ish­ing run­ner up to Billy. IN­SET: Manu Bay’s Ledge sec­tion turned it on.

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