Aimee Brown overtakes Raiha Ensor

Aimee Brown. Image courtesy of Jesse Peters.

Great Barrier surfer Aimee Brown has been left with her own destiny in her hands to clinch the NZ Surf Series overall title this weekend after front runner and closest rival Raiha Ensor from Mount Maunganui crashed out of contention at the Backdoor Pro presented by Billabong being held at Taranaki this weekend.

The young Auckland surfer can secure the series title by winning the event tomorrow which will see her leap frog long-time front runner Raiha.

“There’s a little bit of pressure tomorrow, I kinda just want to finish off the year with a good result either way.  A win would be sick but I just want to keep up the consistency overall” says Aimee after her heat today.

“It was a bit hard out there just then, I blew priority early and I knew I had gotten one good wave so all I was looking for was a backup wave” she said of her performance.

Aimee contested her heat in solid 1.5m – 2.0m waves at Stent Road, the large swell whipped by strong northerly winds.

Raiha was defeated at the hands of local surfer Zhana Hutchison and Brie Bennett from Raglan in her match up finishing third.

Aimee finished second in her heat behind winner Elin Tawharu from Mount Maunganui who put in a big performance.

“It was actually a lot more fun than what it looked like, there were a few inside runners here and there, a lot of hard work and a lot of paddling, but fun” says the Mount Maunganui surfer. 

“The goal was to make it to the final and hopefully take the win so I am stoked to get through that one today.  Keen to finish the year well, after being in Aussie most of the year, I am enjoying being at home” she added.

In the Men’s Division, current rankings leader Levi Stewart, from Waihi Beach also suffered an early defeat opening the door for Billy Stairmand from Raglan to claim his third straight series title.  Billy needs to win the event tomorrow to claim the title and relegate Levi to runner up.

In a day of upsets, the top three ranked men’s surfers were eliminated from the event.

Sunday’s semifinalists include Taylor Hutchison (Raglan), Alex Dive (Mount Maunganui), Paul Moretti (Murawai), Tom Robinson (Whangarei), Jarred Hancox (Taranaki), Jay Piper Healion (Whitianga) and Daniel Farr (Taranaki).

The Backdoor Pro presented by Billabong is the seventh and final event of the 2019 New Zealand Surf Series which caters for New Zealand’s top male and female surfers.  The series started in Taranaki in January and has seen events held at Mount Maunganui, Raglan, Dunedin and Canterbury. 

The large weather system was expected to hit over Saturday night with heavy rain and strong northwest winds for Sunday.  The likely venue will be Fitzroy Beach in New Plymouth where the final nine heats of the event will be contested during the morning.

See below for results from Day 1 of the Backdoor Pro pres by Billabong held at Stent Road, Taranaki, Saturday December 7.

Open Men’s Round 1
Heat 1

Paul Moretti (Nrthlnd), 12.67, 1, Riccardo Lucibella (Tara), 5.77, 2, Corban Grainger (Tara), 2.97, 3, Craig Snook (Wgtn),  , 0
Heat 2
Te Rapai Barbarich - Love (Tara), 9.63, 1, Jamie Andrews (Tara), 8.54, 2, Josh Taylor (Mnt), 6.30, 3, Manu Scott Arrieta (Sandy Bay), 4.30, 4
Heat 3
Callum Chuter, 12.37, 1, Dawson Tamati (Tara), 8.30, 2, Daniel Tingey (Mnt), 5.60, 3, Mark Becker (Tara), 5.00, 4
Heat 4
Sonny Rapira-Martin (Tara), 11.46, 1, Jeremy Grainger (Tara), 9.60, 2, Joel Clegg (Tara), 8.90, 3, Deane Hishon (Rag), 6.56, 4

Open Men’s Round 2
Heat 1

Paul Moretti (Nrthlnd), 14.66, 1, Taylor Hutchison (Rag), 11.44, 2, Jack Rosewarne (Ham), 3.92, 3, Luke Jenssen (HBay), 0.00, 4
Heat 2
Billy Stairmand (Rag), 16.83, 1, Harrison Whiteside (ChCh), 8.94, 2, Riccardo Lucibella (Tara), 8.46, 3,Nick Dunne (Tara), 7.20, 4
Heat 3
Alex Dive (Mnt), 11.33, 1, Tom Butland (Tara), 9.8, 2, Te Rapai Barbarich - Love (Tara), 8.53, 3, Luke Hughes (Rag), 7.16, 4
Heat 4
Jamie Andrews (Tara), 12.03, 1, Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch), 11.20, 2, Larry Fisher, 9.84, 3, Taylor O'Leary (Mur), 8.77, 4
Heat 5
Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 14.33, 1, Callum Chuter (Rag), 11.40, 2, Caleb Cutmore (Ham), 9.00, 3, Jayden Willoughby (Rag), 7.16, 4
Heat 6
Jarred Hancox (Tara), 14.6, 1, Jay Piper - Healion (Whiti), 13.17, 2, Shane Kraus (Piha), 9.87, 3, Dawson Tamati (Tara), 8.76, 4
Heat 7
Daniel Farr (Tara), 13.43, 1, Jack Lee (Whaka), 9.74, 2, Josef Jungwirth (Rag), 7.90, 3, Sonny Rapira-Martin (Tara), 5.50, 4
Heat 8
Jack Luke (Tara), 11.16, 1, Conor McLennan (Chch), 11.04, 2, Zen Wallis (Piha), 10.94, 3, Jeremy Grainger (Tara), 7.60, 4

Under 18 Boys Round 1
Heat 1

Caleb Cutmore (Ham), 10.84, 1, Cassidy Mann (Auck), 10.4, 2, Jack Luke (Tara), 8.8, 3
Heat 2
Jayden Willoughby (Rag), 13.76, 1, Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 13.6, 2, Ryder Pennington (Tara), 7.76, 3, Israel Thomas (Tara), n/s
Heat 3
Kora Cooper (Rag), 9.97, 1, Lucca Lind (Tara), 9.74, 2, Jack Rosewarne (Ham), 8.9, 3, Connor Van Der Pool (Mnt), 5.94, 4
Heat 4
Taylor O'Leary (Mur), 11.66, 1, Corban Grainger (Tara), 3.53, 2, Liam McCardie (Wgtn), 0, 3
Heat 5
Tom Butland (Tara), 12, 1, Josef Jungwirth (Rag), 11.37, 2, Kalani Louie, 6.93, 3, Shay Wells (Tara), 0, 4
Heat 6
Jack Lee (Whaka), 14.76, 1, Jack Hinton (Mnt), 12.47, 2, Hunter Peterson (Tara), 9.44, 3

Under 18 Boys Quarterfinals
Heat 1

Tom Robinson (Whngrei), 15.33, 1, Jayden Willoughby (Rag), 14.57, 2, Caleb Cutmore (Ham), 11.6, 3, Cassidy Mann (Auck), 5.77, 4
Heat 2
Taylor O'Leary (Mur), 14.54, 1, Lucca Lind (Tara), 7.93, 2, Kora Cooper (Rag), 7.06, 3, Corban Grainger (Tara), 5.13, 4
Heat 3
Tom Butland (Tara), 13.13, 1, Jack Hinton (Mnt), 11.9, 2, Jack Lee (Whaka), 11.17, 3, Josef Jungwirth (Rag), 10.62, 4

Open Women’s Division Round 1
Heat 1

Zhana Hutchieson (Tara), 11.7, 1, Brie Bennett (Rag), 10.5, 2, Raiha Ensor (Mnt), 7.94, 3, Georgia Wederell (Mnt), 5.52, 4
Heat 2
Elin Tawharu (Mnt), 13.1, 1, Aimee Brown (GB), 11.4, 2, Grace Spiers (Whmata), 10.4, 3, Gabrielle Paul (Piha), 6.43, 4

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