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Elite Tour In Christie's sights.

19th November 2018 The Gisborne Herald

ric suset

Photo: Christie receives a handcrafted trophy next to Brazilian Deivid Silva.

Gisborne's surfing community was on the edge of its seat yesterday morning and it had nothing to do with the All Blacks.

As the ABs were getting “Irished”, Gisborne-Mahia surfer Ricardo Christie was putting himself on the brink of returning to world surfing’s elite tour.

The 30-year-old underlined his status among World Surf League Championship Tour and Qualifying Series surfers with a superb third-place finish at the Hawaiian Pro.

His legion of fans — locally, nationally and internationally — were glued to screens for live coverage of the latter rounds of the 10,000 QS contest at Haleiwa, Oahu.

Christie, having advanced through quarter and semifinals with second placings, settled for third in an outstanding final, which Australian and 2012 world champion Joel Parkinson won in his swansong year.

But for Kiwis, it was Christie’s progress that had them buzzing.

He picked up $US10,000 and 6700 ranking points — easily his best haul of the year.

It rocketed him from 14th to seventh on the QS standings and within touching distance of the 2019 tour.

The top 10 on the QS rankings qualify for the 2019 CT although the surfer at No.11 will make it as Japan’s Kanoa Igarashi — leading the QS rankings — is eighth on the CT rankings. Therefore, he qualifies through the CT, taking him out of the QS equation.

Another CT surfer, American Griffin Colapinto, is sixth on the QS rankings and 20th on the CT. If he was to maintain or better that position in the last CT contest of the year — the Billabong Pipe Masters — he would requalify through the CT, leaving another spot open through the QS.

Take Igarashi and Colapinto out of it and Christie is effectively lying fifth.

He has 17,700 points from his top five results — 1100 ahead of eighth-ranked Italian Leonardo Fioravanti and 1350 behind Colapinto.

The last QS contest is the Vans World Cup at Sunset Beach, Oahu, starting on November 25 (local time).

It is a 10,000-point event, meaning big points are on offer and plenty of pressure in the race to make that top 10.

Christie knows that all too well. In 2014, he earned the last available spot on the 2015 Championship Tour to become only the second Kiwi male to make the elite ranks — fellow Gisborne surfer Maz Quinn was the first.

Christie finished 16th on the 2014 QS standings but qualified by the skin of his teeth as a couple of surfers requalified through their CT rankings, opening the door for the then 26-year-old.

He was unable to retain his place on the CT, returning to the QS “Grind” the following year.

Today he finds himself in a much stronger position and has the opportunity to add to his points haul at the World Cup, which is the second contest of the Triple Crown of Surfing.

Parkinson has set the pace to win his fourth Triple Crown in a brilliant Hawaiian Pro final yesterday.

The 37-year-old, who Gisborne locals will remember visiting the district in 2009, posted 17.36 out of a possible 20 for his top two waves to topple Christie, teenager Mateus Herdy and fellow Brazilian Deivid Silva.

Finalists got to feast on plenty of prime Ali’i Beach waves, with the powerful Parkinson posting 17.36, including a near-perfect 9.33.

Herdy, 20 years younger than Parkinson, was second with 15.83 (8.83/7.0) on countback from Christie (8.40/7.43), with Silva fourth on 15.36 (6.83/8.53).

Christie was second to Herdy in the quarters — 14.76 to Christie’s 14.17 — in which they eliminated defending champion Filipe Toledo (Brazil) and Igarashi.

He was also second to Herdy in the semifinals — 16.73 to 11.0 — in which they knocked out Hawaiian Seth Moniz and Brazilian Jesse Mendes.

Christie won his round 4 heat on Saturday with 14.06. 

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