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O’Connor and Henderson Secure Titles at the Rip Curl Pro Raglan
Mount Maunganui’s Tim O’Connor and Christchurch surfer Ava Henderson claimed titles at the Rip Curl Pro Raglan, cleaning up in perfect waves at Manu Bay.
The two surfers put on exceptional performances, O’Connor surfing to a 14.90 point heat total and Henderson a 14.15 point total. For Henderson, it is her second win in a row after claiming the Seventhwave Canterbury Women’s Championships two weeks ago.
The Rip Curl Pro Raglan is the third event on the 2023 NZ Surf Series and was completed in clean 2-3ft waves with the winds remaining variable.
O’Connor opened the final with the best wave of the 30 minutes – 8.25 out of a possible 10, the perfect start that loaded pressure on his opponents. He built on his lead that he held from start to finish to claim his second win at national level, eleven years since his first at Gisborne in 2012.
“I was just really stoked the waves turned on. I feel like my backhand is up there with everyone else, and it was just a matter of catching the waves,” O’Connor said, crediting the win to his equipment and support crew in his partner.
O’Connor’s three opponents in Jay Piper – Healion (Piha), Caleb Cutmore (Rag) and Cassidy Mann (Auck) have all spent considerable time honing their skills at Raglan but so has Tim O’Connor in the past.
“Yeah I actually lived here for nine months after studying so I know the wave relatively well, not as well as the other finalists but enough to know that if there is a three footer in front of you, it is just about putting it up there,” added O’Connor who heads back to Indonesia in six weeks and is undecided whether he will be able to contest the rest of the NZ Surf Series.
“Winning the series is a long time goal of mine, so we will see how I get on”.
Finishing in second place was Jay Piper – Healion, securing his carer best result. Piper – Healion had one final attempt for the win in the dying stages of the final. However, requiring a 7.76 on his final wave, he surfed to a 7.05, enough to put him into second place on 14.20 points ahead of Caleb Cutmore. Cutmore also had a high scoring final finishing with a 13.85 point heat total ahead of first-time finalist Cassidy Mann in fourth on 11.30.
17-year-old Ava Henderson was too strong for her opponents in the Open Women’s Final, finishing with the 14.15 point heat total.
“Yeah I am frothing so hard right now, definitely one of my best achievements so far,” said the elate young teen. “I wasn’t thinking of doing any events this year but got back into the buzz of it and here I am with a win, frothing…. Stoked,” she added.
“I spent my whole Year 11 based at Raglan and learned the wave a lot but I haven’t actually been here for a while and definitely lost my bearings a bit at this event and I wasn’t too used to the pumping waves but it was epic surfing against the other girls in good Manu Bay and coming away with the win,” explained Henderson.
Liv Haysom charged home late in the final to pick up a runner-up finish, edging out four-time event champion Ella Williams who placed third with Elin Tawharu finishing in fourth.
Rip Curl Rising Star Awards went to Chloe Groube and Tao Mouldey for their outstanding performances at the event advancing to the semifinals of their respective divisions against the best surfers in Aotearoa.
The Volkswagen Highest Heat Score of the Day Award went to Caleb Cutmore for a 17.10 point heat total in the semifinals of the Open Men’s Division.
Please click on the link for full results from the Rip Curl Pro Raglan completed at Manu Bay today (Sunday 19 March 2023).
The Rip Curl Pro Raglan is the third event of the New Zealand Surf Series with $8,000 prize money on offer. The series heads south after Raglan with events at Dunedin and Christchurch in the next month before returning to Raglan to conclude the season in May.
2023 New Zealand Surf Series Schedule
8-14 Jan – National Surfing Championships, Piha (SNZ3000)
3-4 March – Waveform Surfing NZ Open, Maukatia / Maori Bay (SNZ2000) – Cancelled
4-5 March – Seventhwave Women’s Canterbury Championships, Christchurch (SNZ1000)
18-19 March – Rip Curl Pro Raglan, Manu Bay, Raglan (SNZ3000)
7-10 April – Te Kaika South Island Championship, Dunedin (SNZ1000)
22-24 April – Exit Surf Men’s Canterbury Championships, Christchurch (SNZ2000
May – Backdoor King and Queen of the Point pres by Quiksilver, Raglan (SNZ3000)