Raglan surfer Billy Stairmand lived up to his favourite tag at the 2015 Billabong National Surfing Championships on Saturday, winning the Open Men’s Division in ferocious conditions at Piha Beach.

The swell built throughout the day until the final of the Open Men’s Division, when the swell peaked over 2.0m, making for a challenging showdown between New Zealand’s best surfers.

Stairmand claimed his fourth title in the division and equals Maz Quinn (Gis) who was also a finalist and placed second. Stairmand is now one title behind record holders Wayne Parkes and Iain Buchanan who have five titles each.

Stairmand took a stranglehold of the final early posting a 9.6 point ride before surfing to another 9.0 point ride and an 18.6 out of 20 point heat total.

Stairmand defeated Maz Quinn (Gisborne) who scored 14.90 in second, Alex Dive (Mount Maunganui) on 11.6 in third and Tane Wallis (Piha) on 11.0 in fourth.
“I had my eyes on that title all week long” said Stairmand.

“I felt confident in my surfing and I have a good board under my feet” added Stairmand who said that the conditions were crazy and he had no idea of how he was doing or what scores his opponents had until he exited the water.

“It is good to put my name on the trophy again and take it back to Raglan for another year. It is always amazing to win the Nationals, Maz was hunting for five titles and I was hunting for four and I got it. I am keen to get my name on there as much as possible.”

Auckland surfer Gabriella Sansom (Long Bay) won her first national title in the Open Women’s Division. As the surf built the female surfers had to battle massive waves, some of the finalists getting washed in before the final had started.

Sansom defeated Muriwai surfer Britt Kindred who placed second ahead of Raglan’s Jessica Santorik.

Christchurch surfer Shayne Baxter defended his Stand Up Paddleboard Division title narrowly defeating Raglan’s Daniel Kereopa who placed second ahead of Ben Poulter (Waihi Beach).

Kereopa added to his previous ‘Stand Up Paddleboard’ trophies with wins in the Over 28 Men’s Division and Over 35 Men’s Division. By way of his finals day performance Kereopa claimed the Peter Byers Award for the Most Outstanding Performance for the event. The accolades continued with his Point Boardriders Club also winning the Interclub Championship.

Raglan’s Armie Armstrong won the Paddleboard Race which was held at the peak of the swell, while Shane Murrell (Auck) placed third ahead of triple finalist Daniel Kereopa.

In the senior men’s divisions titles went to Jeremy Williams (Mnt) in the Over 55s, Raglan’s Geoff Hutchison and Jeremy Hughes finished first and second respectively in the Over 50s and Rick Lasch (Auck) in the Over 45s.

In the 52 year history of the event the National Championships has grown to encompass 23 divisions spread across all disciplines and age groups.

Over 290 entries were received for the event. The event was hosted by Lion Rock Boardriders Club.

Ben Kennings