Ricardo Christie needed a break.
After competing on both the World Surf League Championship Tour and Qualifying series in 2019, the 31-year-old took part in no less than 18 events.
The tournaments took him across the globe, competing in Australia, Hawaii, mainland USA, Japan and throughout Europe. As a result, he spent a grand total of about a month or two at home in Mahia during the season.
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When his campaign came to a close in December and he was ultimately unable to re-qualify for the CT, Christie took the opportunity to return home and consider his future.
"I was doing two tours last year and by the end of it I was pretty rinsed," he told Radio Sport's D'Arcy Waldegrave. "It was so much time away … so I was really looking forward to actually not doing it this year.
"But I think I'd like to be back on the World Tour, and I'd just commit to the one tour when I qualified; I wouldn't do both tours and I'm sure I'd enjoy myself a lot more and probably get some better results.
"I still love surfing … I'm fit, I'm healthy, I still love to compete, so I'll go do a couple events – I just don't want to do 20 in the year."
After spending the summer travelling around coaching some of the country's grommets, Christie decided he will return to the competitive arena, focusing first on all on the opening events on the Challenger Series this year – the Sydney Surf Pro in Manly and the Piha Pro in Auckland.
The Challenger Series is a new inclusion to the World Surf League this year, and consists of the eight major QS events on the calendar. Each event on the Challenger series offers 10,000 points towards qualification to the following year's CT.
"In the past I've been 100 per cent committed to doing every single event possible and running myself around like a bit of a headless chicken at some points. I guess as you get older and a bit wiser you learn you don't actually have to do as much, you just have to focus on a few things better and put more time into preparing for those. That's my approach this year, so we'll see how we go.
"I don't think I'll veer away from those big ones. I'm just going to start with the two and see how I feel."
Christie will be one of a minimum of six Kiwis competing at the Piha Pro, with Billy Stairmand, Elliot Paerata-Reid and Kehu Butler also lining up in the men's tournament, while Paige Hareb and Ella Williams will fly the flag in the women's division. Another few Kiwis will be added to each field, with local surfers competing for the final spots in the lineup in trials before the main event officially gets underway.
"It's pretty cool that we're getting an event that big in New Zealand," Christie said. "A lot of people probably don't understand how big it is for local surfers. We travel around the world and have to compete against everyone in their home turf and that home court advantage.
"For us to have something of that stature on our home beaches is pretty cool."
While there will be plenty of Kiwis in the field, some of the world's top surfers will not be lining up at the Piha Pro. Being an event on the Challenger Series and not the World Tour, not all CT surfers will attend.
Notable names missing from the women's lineup include seven-time World Champion Stephanie Gilmore, perennial world title challenger Sally Fitzgibbons, and American superstar grommet Caroline Marks. On the men's side, none of the top seven surfers from last year's CT will be attending the event, with last year's No 8 seed and greatest professional surfer of all time Kelly Slater being the highest-ranked competitors in the men's competition.
Other notable names to descend on Piha for the women's event include last year's world champion Carissa Moore and top 10-ranked surfers Tatiana Weston-Webb (6), Johanne Defay (8), Malia Manuel (9) and Nikki van Dijk (10).
For the men's, 2015 world champion Adriano de Souza will be in the lineup alongside exciting current and former CT contenders Jack Robinson, Jack Freestone, Seth Moniz, Yago Dora, Jadson Andre and Sebastian Zietz.