Richard Christie (Gis) snatched a come from behind win at the Billabong Pro presented by Sony today (Sunday 30th January) after scoring a 9.77 point ride on the last wave of the final to jump from fourth into first.
The win prevented Jay Quinn (Gis) securing an unprecedented three from three wins on the SOL Surf Series, Quinn finishing the final in second place after holding the lead with 90 seconds to go.
The win elevates Christie to second on the 2010/11 SOL Series ratings behind Quinn after having competed in only two of the three events this year.
Christie's spectacular last ride in the meagre 0.5m waves comprised of two big turns and a massive air reverse on the shore in front of a cheering crowd.
"I heard I needed a 9.28 so it almost took all of the pressure off me and I was all like 'oh it happened again' then that wave came through and it had a nice bend to it and I thought 'this could be interesting' so a bit of hope popped into my head and I surfed the wave like I was free surfing and ended up with the score" explained a gathered Christie after being near speechless at the prize giving.
Christie has not won an event in New Zealand or overseas for two years despite a bag full of very close results ranging from runner up through to finals berths, the most recent being a second to Jay Quinn at the National Championships two weeks ago.
"It's so good to be number one again" said Christie. "I have had a few close finals and always seem to get pipped so it is good to be on the other side of it for once."
"This is a good warm up for the year on the ASP World Tour, especially with all the boys home. There is such a high level of surfing at the moment because everyone is doing so well, it is hard to get a result. Even my semifinal was so hard, that could have been a QS final" said Christie in reference to the international tour he contests for the majority of the year.
Second placed Quinn looked to have the final in the bag in the closing stages. After waiting for 16 minutes to catch his first wave, Jay jumped out into the lead with 8.0 and 6.93 rides. However the monumental task of winning three in a row did not eventuate. Quinn does however extend his lead on the SOL Series with his closest rival Blair Stewart (Gis) falling in the quarterfinals.
Raglan surfer Luke Cederman placed third in the final competing in his first event in over a year. Cederman was the sole goofy foot surfer in the final and surfed away from his opponents to try and pick up what ever waves he could scoring 11.63 which was enough to push defending event champion Maz Quinn (Gis) into fourth place after falling on several key turns during the final.
Earlier in the day Christie and Jay Quinn defeated Tim O'Connor (Mnt) and Billy Stairmand (Rag) in the first semifinal while Maz Quinn and Cederman eliminated Luke Hughes (Rag) and Dean Amess (WGM).
Young fifteen year old Sarah Mason (Gis) was victorious in the Open Women's Division romping home over her opponents scoring 15.67 out of 20 for the win.
The young surfer has only recently moved back to New Zealand after spending the last 5 years in Australia with her family, competing against the best female surfers in the world. Today she showed he amazing talent in the small waves using her light frame to fly across sections and rack up big scores.
"Yeah it has been awesome coming home and we are loving being back here in New Zealand" said Mason in reference to her return to New Zealand.
"It was sort of a last minute decision to come but I am glad now that I went in the event" said Mason.
"The waves were real challenging with how small they were but if you got the right one you could get the scores" said Sarah who heads to school in Gisborne on Thursday.
Mason also has an eye on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour competing in her first event of the year scheduled for March in Western Australia.
Mason defeated another youngster in local girl Ella Williams who secured her second runner up placing in two events. Williams scored 11.17 in the final to outpoint Wini Paul (Sandy Bay) in third.
Williams now leads the SOL Series ratings ahead of Jessica Santorik who failed to make the final today placing seventh overall.
Paul is another surfer to return from Australia and compete in the event. Paul was the form surfer for much of the day but fell short in the final with the fickle conditions putting pay to a possible victory. Alexis Poulter (Rag) finished the final in fourth place.
JC Susan (Mnt) claimed his first ever event at a national level winning the Under 20 Men's Division. In a low scoring final, Susan claimed the victory over Ryan Hawker (Piha) by a mere 0.10 points scoring 8.67 to Hawkers 8.57.
Susan never felt his heat total was going to be enough during the final. "I didn't think I was going to win because I only had one good score but everything happened real fast in the last five minutes and I eventually came out on top.
"I have just recovered from an injured knee so it makes the win even better" added Susan who likened the final day conditions to his home of Mount Maunganui.
The Pacific Blue Highest Heat Score was retained by Jay Quinn after his first day heroics scoring 17.65 out of 20. However after also holding down the Playstation Best Move of the Event award, Quinn got pipped by Richard Christie on the last wave of the event by Christie's big forehand reverse.
Open Men's Quarterfinals
Billy Stairmand (Rag), 13.75, 1, Richard Christie (Mahia), 12, 2, Leon Santorik (Rag), 11.4, 3, Oli Adams (Rag), 8.45, 4
Jay Quinn (Gis), 11.25, 1, Tim O'Connor (Mnt), 10.5, 2, Keone Campbell (Tara), 8.9, 3, Nick White (Mnt), 7.35, 4
Luke Cederman (Rag), 13, 1, Luke Hughes (Rag), 10.95, 2, Chris Malone (Gis), 8.05, 3, Tane Wallis (Piha), 6.35, 4
Maz Quinn (Gis), 14.9, 1, Dean Amess (Whmata), 9.3, 2, Matt Scorringe (Whmata), 8.95, 3, Blair Stewart (Gis), 4, 4
Open Men's Semifinals
Richard Christie (Mahia), 13.75, 1, Jay Quinn (Gis), 13.1, 2, Tim O'Connor (Mnt), 10.85, 3, Billy Stairmand (Rag), 6.8, 4
Maz Quinn (Gis), 12.1, 1, Luke Cederman (Rag), 9.5, 2, Luke Hughes (Rag), 9.4, 3, Dean Amess (Whmata), 6.5, 4
Open Men's Final
Richard Christie (Mahia), 15.43, 1, Jay Quinn (Gis), 14.93, 2, Luke Cederman (Rag), 11.63, 3, Maz Quinn (Gis), 11.23, 4
Open Women's Quarterfinals
Sarah Mason (Gis), 8.45, 1, Alexis Poulter (Rag), 7.5, 2, Jayda Martin-Fitzharris (Gis), 6.55, 3, Emma Philson, 2.55, 4
Jessica Santorik (Rag), 6.75, 1, Laura Rishworth (Mnt), 5.25, 2, Rachel von Zalinski (Auck), 2, 3
Wini Paul (Sandy Bay), 8.7, 1, Ella Williams (Whmata), 7, 2, Marguerite Vujich (Napier), 1.3, 3
Rosa Thompson (Auck), 10.15, 1, Grace Spiers (Whmata), 9.5, 2, Anna Gooding (Mt), 5.5, 3
Open Women's Semifinals
Wini Paul (Sandy Bay), 12.5, 1, Sarah Mason (Gis), 11.6, 2, Laura Rishworth (Mnt), 7.75, 3, Grace Spiers (Whmata), 6.9, 4
Alexis Poulter (Rag), 11, 1, Ella Williams (Whmata), 7.75, 2, Rosa Thompson (Auck), 7.35, 3, Jessica Santorik (Rag), 6.6, 4
Open Women's Final
Sarah Mason (Gis), 15.67, 1, Ella Williams (Whmata), 11.17, 2, Wini Paul (Sandy Bay), 8.17, 3, Alexis Poulter (Rag), 7.54, 4
Under 20 Men's Semifinals
Tane Wallis (Piha), 10.4, 1, JC Susan (Mnt), 9, 2, Sid West (Gt Barrier), 7.9, 3, Mark Parthemore (Tara), 6.55, 4
Braedon Williams (Whmata), 12.1, 1, Ryan Hawker (Piha), 10.8, 2, Joe Moretti (Mimiwhangata), 8.65, 3, Todd Doyle (Mnt), 7.68, 4
Under 20 Men's Final
JC Susan (Mnt), 8.67, 1, Ryan Hawker (Piha), 8.57, 2, Braedon Williams (Whmata), 6.57, 3, Tane Wallis (Piha), 5.97, 4
Source: Surfing New Zealand