PIHA BEACH, North Island/New Zealand (February 5, 20110) - Day Two of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Sandy Bay Hyundai Pro Longboard ran in clean 0.5m – 1.0m waves with light variable winds.
The expected increase in swell overnight eventuated allowing a start to the highly anticipated first round of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) Open Men’s Division.
Surfers from both New Zealand and Australia relished the improvement in surf conditions with a true spectacle of traditional and progressive surfing on display throughout the day.
The top seeded international field of surfers hit the water in Round 2 bringing true class to the crisp 0.5m – 1.0m waves at Sandy Bay. Former US Open Champion Taylor Jensen (California) locked in a combined heat score of 15.0 out of a possible 20 points in his opening performance beating Dane Pioli (Aus) who finished second.
Jensen, who is no stranger to New Zealand shores, is here travelling with partner Nava Young (Aua) and will also be competing in the remaining two events of the 2011 Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour at Mount Maunganui and Port Waikato.
One of the most anticipated surfers of the contest, Josh Constable (Noosa), put on a display of world class surfing in the deteriorating conditions in his Round 2 heat to continue the dominance of the international surfers. The former ASP World Champion destroyed every wave that came his way with a combined heat score of 13.60 out of a possible 20 points. Daniel Procter (Gisborne) had a late run in the heat with a long left hander bumping him into second place and into the Open Men’s Quarterfinals.
Western Australia’s Justin Redman (Aus) surfed a solid heat showing his years of experience on the ASP World Longboard Tour have kept him at the cutting edge of longboarding. In the same heat young Josh Cooper (AUS) also progressed into quarterfinals.
For the New Zealand field of surfers it was Matt Cockayne (Mangawhai) who continued his excellent run of form but was pipp ed for first place in his heat by Bowie Pollard (Noosa). Jared Neal (Aus) and Kelly Ryan (Gis) continued the first and second trend of Australia vs. New Zealand competitors with both surfers progressing into the Open Men’s Division Quarterfinals.
Phil Morris (Orewa) smashed his way into the quarterfinals with some solid and stylish surfing with young Queensland surfer Mitch Surman (AUS) placing second.
Current New Zealand National Champion Thomas Kibblewhite (Orewa) continued his good form winning his second round heat. Kibblewhite clearly enjoyed the fun low tide conditions at Sandy Bay.
Other surfers to progress to the quarterfinals of the Open Men’s Division included; Dylan Barnfield (Ohope), Matt Aldridge (Aus) and for ASP World Champion Harley Ingleby (Aus).
Earlier in the day first round action included exceptional performances from young Ambrose McNeill (CHCH) who faced off against Dane Pioli (AUS). McNeill, a stylish natural footer from the Sumner Longboard Club, picked off some great waves but it was Pioli who stamped his mark on the heat.
Pioli, who won the 2010 Open Men’s Australian Title, has enjoyed his first trip to New Zealand to date. “Yeah we are pretty stoked to be here at Sandy Bay. I’ve been really impressed with the level of surfing from the Kiwi boys” he said. “It’s great that New Zealand now has an ASP event and it will give guys like Thomas Kibblewhite and Daniel Procter a chance to qualify for the World Longboard Tour” the Gold Coast surfer said.
Matt Cockayne (Mangawhai) was another that dominated the small left hand waves coming through linking long nose rides with hard, on-rail turns to smash his opponents.
Cockayne, who recently placed second at the New Zealand National Championships in Dunedin, is looking for a solid result at Sandy Bay to secure his tour rating of second place overall.
Other highlights from Round 1 included some hot nose riding from Queensland’s Josh Cooper (AUS) and some classic long rides from 2010 National Champion Dylan Barnfield (Ohope).
Round 1 of the Open Women’s Division ran in slightly onshore 0.5m – 0.75m waves. Heat 1 saw the return to New Zealand longboarding of the one of Sandy Bay’s most prominent surfers Pauline Pullman. Pullman, who is a former National Shortboard and Longboard Champion, shared the line up with her daughter Wini Paul (Sandy Bay) adding a nice family feel to the women’s event.
Paul recently won the Jim Beam Big Break which will see her pursue her career ambitions on the elite ASP Women’s World Tour in 2011 with a $25,000 sponsorship package. Paul is enjoying being back home from Queensland with whanau and resting up, before her first outing at the Roxy Pro trials later this month on the Gold Coast. Paul progressed through to the semifina ls with Shelley Jones (Orewa).
Nava Young (AUS), son of former World Champion and Angourie figure head Nat Young, was another exciting entry into the Sandy Bay event. Young, who is travelling in New Zealand with partner Taylor Jensen for the next month, has enjoyed the warm hospitality and keeps coming back to Sandy Bay. The other stand out international surfer in the division was Sam Suendermann (Aus) who won her first round heat and progressed through into the semifinals.
Other surfers to watch out for in the Women’s Division include; Denise Piper (Ocean Beach), Sasha Brownlie (AKL) and Sunny Yoshida (Raglan).
The action continues at Sandy Bay this afternoon before IC Motor Group and Hyundai entertain the competitors and guests with their traditional Saturday night festivities at the contest site.
Beautiful summer weather conditions prevailed throug hout the day and spectators were treated to an almost festival like atmosphere at Sandy Bay with good tunes, barbeques and plenty of sunshine.
The event will resume at 8.00am tomorrow morning (Sunday 6th February) with a decision on the running order of events to be made once the surf conditions are assessed. Finals of all divisions will be contested from midday tomorrow.
The remaining events on the 2011 Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour follow:
Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour Event 4, 19-20 February, Mount Maunganui (4-star)
Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour Event 5, 4-5 March, Port Waikato (6-star)
Entry into the events can be completed at Surfing New Zealand under events. Complete the entry process online or download entry forms and send them in. The 2011 Hyundai Pro Longboard Tour is expected to receive high entry levels so entrants will need to be in well before the cut off dates to assure themselves a slice of the action.