Ella celebrates after her win at Raglan. Photo / ©CORY SCOTT/ NZ SURFING MAGAZIN
Ella celebrates after her win at Raglan. Photo / ©CORY SCOTT/ NZ SURFING MAGAZIN

The previous postponement of the Rip Curl Pro presented by Corona has fallen comfortably into the laps of defending champions Ella Williams (WGM) and Billy Stairmand (Rag) who are now available to contest New Zealand's richest surfing event this weekend.

The Rip Curl Pro presented by Corona takes place at Raglan's Manu Bay on Saturday and climaxes on Sunday with the finals.

Previous event dates had Stairmand and Williams weighing up returning from Australia where they were competing on the World Qualifying Series. Now the two will enjoy the chance to defend their titles, Williams for a sixth straight time and Stairmand gunning for his third straight.

The surf conditions are expected to be good on Saturday with a clean 1.5m swell which will fade into Sunday for the finals.

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Aside from the defending champions in attendance, the Rip Curl Pro presented by Corona has attracted the largest field of surfers this year with a near-capacity line up.

After winning the second event of the New Zealand Surf Series, The Barrett Homes Surf Open, Maz Quinn (Gis) has made the decision to give this weekend's event a shot, the pumping Raglan waves always an attraction for the previous event champion, not to mention the $15,000 in prize money up for grabs.

Quinn is joined by ratings leader and local standout Taylor Hutchison who will be eager to keep his position at the top of the rankings. With a pair of semifinals finishes this year, Hutchison will have his sights firmly on a finals berth come Sunday.

Other surfers in the Open Division looking for a big result will be runner-up at the most recent event, Levi Stewart (Waihi Bch), Luke Cederman (Rag), who has placed first and second in the two most recent events held at Raglan, and Daniel Farr (Tara), a finalist in 2018 who has been making a slow return from injury this summer.

In the women's division, Williams and Whangamata's Grace Spiers join Raglan import and national champion Aimee Brown, originally from the Great Barrier, who currently leads the rankings.

It is a young field of surfers where the average age is only 20. All of the up and comers will have to be wary of the like of talented local mother Jessica Santorik and Whangamata's Spiers, both two-time previous event champions.

The Rip Curl GromSearch finals will take place this weekend as well where four young males and females vie for a chance to represent New Zealand at the international final. Raglan grom Kora Cooper will lead the way in the boys division and he will be up against Myka Black (Chch), Tom Robinson (Whgnrei) and Jack Lee (Whaka). In the girls division, it is another Raglan surfer, Brie Bennett, that faces off against Estella Hungerford (Chch), Georgia Wederell (Mnt) and Hannah King (Gis).

The Saturday night Corona after party will take place at Isobar in Raglan township.

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The Rip Curl Pro is the first of four straight legs of the national series with rankings set to change considerably over the next month after the series frequents Dunedin, Christchurch and then returns to Raglan.