RIPCURL RAGLAN PRO
Presented by Galbraith's
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.
"YEAR AFTER YEAR, , LUKE LAYS DOWN THE MOST IMPRESSIVE PERFORMANCE AT SOME STAGE OF THE CONTEST"
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.
"CURRENT QS TOUR SURFERS BILLY STAIRMAND AND ELLA WILLIAMS HELD THAT SLIGHT EDGE OVER THEIR RIVALS"
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.