An unexpected event victory by unheralded Gisborne surfer Sam Johnson handed Dylan Barnfield (Ohope) the Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour title on an action packed final day of the fifth and final event held at Sunset Beach, Port Waikato this weekend (26-27 March).
The surf ranged between 1.5m - 2.0m on the final day with onshore winds persisting making conditions challenging but highly surfable with long lefthanders up for grabs.
Johnson answered all of Barnfield's prayers on the final day after Barnfield was ousted in the quarterfinals leaving the door slightly ajar for his three closest rivals - Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck), Daniel Procter (Gis) and Owen Barnes (Mnt).
The door quickly shut on Procter who fell in the semifinals leaving Kibblewhite and Barnes the tough task of winning the event to claim the Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour.
Barnes looked to have risen to the task racing out to a big lead in the 20 minute final with two rides of 8.00 and 6.40 early on. His three opponents also had at least one good scoring ride, Kibblewhite an 8.0, Johnson a 6.85 and Jackson Winter (Aus) a 4.75.
As the final came to a close a full exchange of waves took place. Winter scored a 6.50 which could not lift him out of fourth place. Kibblewhite caught one of the bigger waves of the final completing one big turn before falling mid way through the wave posting a 4.20 which dashed his chances of taking the event victory and tour title finishing third in both the final and on the ratings - the same ranking he secured in 2009. Owen Barnes scored a 7.0 on his last wave momentarily increasing his lead.
However, it was Johnson with a series of big turns and a wave that almost finished on the beach that netted an 8.15. The score was good enough to elevate him to first equal with Barnes but as Johnson had the highest single scoring ride (8.15 compared with Barnes 8.0), that was enough for the victory on a count back.
The tight nature of the final had pressure written all over the finalists faces at the prize giving. As the winner was announced the despair on Barnes face was evident as he stood beside a shell shocked Johnson who was speechless. To cap it off the huge crowd erupted around Barnfield once they realised that the seemingly distant chance of holding down his ratings lead was now a reality.
Daisy Thomas (Chch) won her third event of the year in the Open Women's Division to retain her Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour title which she has held since 2008. In a low scoring affair, Thomas outpointed her closest rival Mischa Davis (Piha) who finished second ahead of Cheryl Lowe (Mnt) in third and Kirstie Thomsen in fourth.
The lone Australian stole the show in the Junior Men's Division with the highest heat score of the final day - 17.0 out of a possible 20. Jackson Winter (Noose Heads) was stylish in his approach to the waves with big forehand carves and slick traditional elements. Winter netted a 9.50 on his first scoring ride and backed that up with a 7.50. Hone Douglas (Ohope) left his run late finishing second but scoring 8.25 on his last wave to come within a one wave total of Winter. Dunedin surfer Jae Kilgour finished in third place ahead of Gisborne's Charlie Browne in fourth.
Winter's win saw him convincingly take out the Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour ratings.
The finalists in the Over 40 Men's Division ran out of puff in their season climax heat. It was David Storck (Auck) with the lone good scoring ride of 7.50 points that nudged him in front of his opponents. Storck finished with a low 8.25 point heat total which was enough to secure his first win in the division this year and elevate him to second on the ratings behind Grant Cochrane (Chch). Cochrane placed second in the Port Waikato final ahead of his Christchurch counterparts Gavin Neal in third and Stephen Tyro in fourth.
The war of attrition continued in the Over 50 Men's Division with most of the surfers having to do laps of the beach to paddle back out the cove during their final. David Storck (WGM) was best prepared for the task taking out the final with a score of 12.30 which he amassed on his first two waves and secured a double victory. Grant Cochrane (Chch) chased down the lead but his 11.75 point heat total came up short of Storck's 12.30. Viv Treacy (Sandy Bay) finished third with Michael Thomson (Rag) in fourth.
Lynden Kennings (WGM) took his second Starboard Stand Up Paddleboard win in a row but it was not enough to topple Tour winner Shayne Baxter (Chch) who placed third in today's final. Kennings sat in second place throughout the final lacking a good scoring wave. Late in the heat he caught a wave the length of the break to post a 7.0 point ride for the win. Second place went to Damon Mark (Auck) who was in the same position as Kennings with a 6.75 and nothing substantial for his second ride only requiring a 5.51 for the win. Shayne Baxter finished in third place ahead of Shane Murrell (Auck) in fourth.
The Tour was completed with Shayne Baxter presenting an intricately carved wooden paddle to both Surfing New Zealand and Hyundai followed by a stirring haka in return for the fantastic 2010 Tour.
New Zealand's tops surfing family award was then drawn from the raffle box with Kelly and Caroline Ryan along with their kids winning the Hyundai Santa Fe for the next twelve months having contested all three North Island legs of the Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour racking up entries into the draw as they went along.
The night was concluded to the tunes of The Feelers at a private function put on for all involved with the tour.
Source: Surfing New Zealand