Aussie Looking to Steal The Show At Port Waikato
The 2011 Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour reaches its climax this week with an Australian surfer set to steal the show from his Kiwi counterparts.
The final event of the Tour will be played out at Sunset Beach, Port Waikato starting Friday (4th March).
Australian Josh Constable currently leads the ratings after four events. Despite not being eligible to compete at the National Championships held at Dunedin in January, Constable leads by way of three wins from the three events that he has contested.
A first or second placing at the event this weekend will ensure Constable the victory.
However the stakes are also raised for the two top Kiwi competitors who have a chance of taking the title - National Champion Thomas Kibblewhite (Auck) and Phil Morris (Auck) who are ranked second and third respectively.
Kibblewhite has the best chance of his first ever Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour title requiring a victory and Constable to finish third at best. Morris on the other hand requires a win and Constable to finish outside the top six.
The scenario brings to an end the eventful season which looks likely to be played out in the biggest waves of the Tour to date. A solid 3.0m swell is forecast to push up the west coast of the North Island of New Zealand on Thursday and Friday.
The big swell will add an additional element to the mix with the powerful waves at Port Waikato having put pay to more than a few egos and boards over the past four years.
The winner of the Open Men's Division on the Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour receives an all expenses paid trip to Australia to compete in the Noosa Surf Festival being held from the 12th - 20th March.
The Hyundai Santa Fe is also up for grabs at this event, New Zealand's number one selling diesel SUV going to the lucky family that is drawn out of the hat after competing on the Tour in 2011. With family numbers exceeding 2010 levels, there will be an anxious wait to see who will be driving home in a brand new vehicle like Gisborne's Ryan family did in 2010.
Many of the family entries come from divisions outside of the premier Open Men's with a further five divisions contested at each event.
In the Open Women's Division, Auckland's Shelley Jones has a strong hold on the ratings lead with Hannah Howard (Auck) the only likely contender. Howard would need to win the event and have Jones finish outside the top three for a come from behind victory. The two surfers will also be pushed to the limit by Georgia Young (AUS) and Nava Young (AUS) who have dominated the last two events at Sandy Bay and Mount Maunganui surfing to a first and second placing each.
Hyundai Pro Longboard Port Waikato Highlights
The Under 18 Boys Division has a quartet of Eastern Bay of Plenty surfers leading the charge, Hone Douglas (Whakatane) being the front runner. The only surfer that has his destiny in his own hands is Douglas but he is still required to win the event to be assured of the Tour title. Fourth ranked surfer Blake Barnfield (Ohope) could win the Tour title by winning the final event and having Douglas finish outside the top three.
The Over 40 Men's Division is all one way traffic with Orewa surfer Brian Young having won all three events this year and unstoppable on his way to clinch the title for 2011.
Viv Treacy (Whangarei) is holding on to a slender lead in the Over 50 Men's Division with a second placing or better enough to see him clinch the title over Mike Thomson (Rag). Christchurch surfer and 2010 Over 40 Men's Champion Grant Cochrane is sitting in third and can also claim the title provided Thomson and Treacy finish second and third respectively.
Daniel Kereopa (Rag) is another surfer to have the Tour locked away after winning three of four stops in the Stand Up Paddleboard Division and placing second in the other. The national champion will be looking for a fourth win this weekend to seal a fantastic year of competition.
The Stand Up Paddleboard Race, a new division in 2011, sees Jeremy Stephenson (Auck) leading the way on the ratings. A top three placing will be enough for the power house paddler to clinch the title but Raglan charger Armie Armstrong, the only surfer with a chance of taking the title can do so with a win and Stephenson falling outside the top three. Conditions for the race labelled 'King of the Waves' can have a big impact on race results and the big swell predicted could play a vital roll in final standings.
Action takes place at Sunset Beach, Port Waikato from 8am - 4pm daily on Friday and Saturday.
Source: Surfing New Zealand
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