Ricardo Christie scores upset win at Azores Pro
New Zealand surfer Ricardo Christie's hopes of qualifying for the full men's tour next year have been boosted with some good form at the latest qualifying series contest in the Azores Islands.
Christie, from Mahia, was through to the quarterfinals after upsetting the top-ranked Australian Matt Banting in the fifth round on Thursday (NZT Friday).
Christie produced the best two-wave total of the round, scoring 14.00 out of 20, to eliminate Banting (12.73) in the small, tricky conditions.
Christie, who has faced major sponsorship and funding difficulties over the last couple of years, was desperate to push on. After making a solid start to his campaign with a quarterfinal finish in Brazil in May, he has struggled for consistency.
He was ranked No 29 and with the top 10 surfers qualifying for the full tour, he needed to dig deeper into this contest and take advantage of the big qualifying points now on offer.
Christie faced Brazil's Tomas Hermes in the quarterfinals.
"I'm stoked to get through that heat, Matt is a tough draw in waves like that," Christie said.
"I tried to stay relaxed and do my own thing. I got a sponsor after my result in Brazil and I was stoked on that, so hopefully I can keep the ball rolling, keep having fun and make a few more."
Fellow New Zealander Billy Stairmand was well-placed to make the elite tour. Raglan's Stairmand was currently ranked 10th though that may take a knock after his surprise first round elimination in the Azores.
There were still seven events left worth chasing for the Kiwi pair before the tour wrapped up at the World Cup in Hawaii from November 24 to December 6.