Surfing: Christie wins under threat of Cyclone Lusi

Richard Christie broke a five-year drought when he won the Rip Curl Pro at Manu Bay, Raglan, today.

Under dark skies, gale offshore winds and sideways rain thanks to Cyclone Lusi, Christie surfed his way to a win in the open men's division in the 1m-1.5m waves that built throughout the day.

Christie collected a 12.34-point heat total in the final, a modest score for the day but indicative of the challenging conditions as Cyclone Lusi ripped through the Waikato with gusts of 40 knots buffeting the waves.

Christie came in from the final unaware he had won the event.

"I had no idea I won,'' he said. "I was splashing the water in frustration at the end there. I just didn't know what was happening because of the wind, you couldn't hear the scores.

"I saw guys getting good waves and I got blown off the back of one really good wave too. I can't believe it. I haven't won a comp in five years.''

Christie, who last won a national event in 2008 at Mount Maunganui, pocketed $3000 in prizemoney as well as a trip to Bali and an invitation to compete in the Rip Curl Padang Cup which plays host to some of the best surfers in the world.

"I love Padang. I was in Bali for four months last year so to be able to go back and surf Padang, one of the most perfect waves in the world with only four guys out will be amazing. I can't wait.''

Matt Hewitt was second and Bobby Hansen third but Hansen jumped from third to first on the New Zealand Pro Series ratings.

A third consecutive win on the New Zealand Pro Series has seen Whangamata surfer Grace Spiers open up a massive lead on the ratings after her victory in the open women's division today.

Spiers first won the national championships at Gisborne in January before winning the second event at Whangamata in February.

"Those were some of the most difficult conditions to compete in,'' she said. "You could hardly walk down the rocks let alone surf. On the waves it was hard to stay low and you couldn't even hit the top of the wave, bit different for the boys who have a bit more weight but definitely hard for us girls.

"Winning three events in a row is pretty amazing. I guess I have been relaxed about competing all summer and it has been good fun. I figure I have had less pressure on me, or put less pressure on myself and it has worked.''

Jasmine Smith was second, with Jessica Santorik third.

- APNZ

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