Stairmand rides to third national surfing title
A switch in venue couldn't stop Raglan's Billy Stairmand from winning his third national men's surfing title.
A move up the coast to Kaiaua Bay, just north of Tologa Bay, was required to finish the event on Saturday after the primary Gisborne venue of Makorori was too big to surf and severely affected by strong southwest winds.
That didn't bother Stairmand however, as he finished with a 15.07 point heat total that left his opponents needing near perfect rides to match him.
"I am stoked, I always get good results down here for some reason. There are always waves and heaps of the boys live down here so I like coming down," Stairmand said.
Stairmand's third title followed victories in Gisborne in 2010 and in Piha in 2012.
"The first time I won the nationals was in Gisborne so to get my third here is pretty sweet."
Stairmand adjusted best to the difficult 1 to 1.5-metre beach break conditions, opting to surf in a left hand rip-bowl that allowed him to unleash his potent backhand attack.
"I saw this left out there all day and went out there and tried to get as many waves as possible," he said.
"I almost got 15 waves and there were a couple of good ones in there."
His efforts were too much for host surfer Bobby Hansen to emulate as he finished runner-up.
Stairmand's win also helped the Point Boardriders of Raglan finish third in the Interclub Championship.
Whangamata's Grace Spiers claimed a well-deserved women's title.
"I wasn't expecting too much of myself at this event and I was actually thinking of not coming down to Gisborne and competing because of my arm that I broke late last year and I haven't been surfing for a bit," Spiers said.
"However I thought I would come down and give it a go and hang out with everyone and see if I could win the title and look what happened."
Second place went to local giant killer Abby Falwasser-Logan, who earlier defeated world junior champion Ella Williams (Whangamata) in the semifinals.
Raglan surfers picked up three other titles to complement Stairmand's win. Alexis Poulter won the women's longboard and women's Stand-Up paddleboard crowns while Armie Armstrong triumphed in the men's Stand-Up paddleboard event.
Along with Spiers' title, Dune Kennings was another Whangamata victor in the under-18 men's event while Pauanui's Matt Groube took out the over-40 men's title.