Bianca Buitendag to compete in New Zealand Open

Gisborne-based teenage surfing sensation Sarah Mason will the one to beat in the coming NZ Women’s Open in Taranaki following her win in the Gold Coast Roxy Trials last Friday.

The Roxy Trials win means Mason will again face four-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore in the Roxy Pro ASP event. Mason beat Gilmore last year in the ASP event in Taranaki during the TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival.

Mason clocked a combined two-wave score of 14.16 to defeat South African Sarah Baum (11.90), Coolangatta surfer Brodie Doyle (11.50) and South African Bianca Buitendag (10.67).

With the NZ Open winner going through as a wildcard entry into the Subaru Pro ASP Dream Tour event, more Kiwi women surfers are expected to want to pitch themselves against the world’s best as 15-year old Sarah Mason did last year.

Sarah won the NZ Women’s Open, and then in a major event upset, made headlines around the world by beating world champion Stephanie Gilmore in her ASP heat before being knocked out of the competition in the semi-finals.

Sarah recently won the women’s division in a New Zealand series event, and her sister Airini won the National Champs in January making them both major contenders, says Craig Williamson, executive officer for Surfing Taranaki who are the hosts of the TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival.

“Having seen that a world champion can be toppled as Sarah did last year, we are expecting New Zealand’s best women surfers to come out in force to win that wildcard entry into the Subaru Pro,” says Craig.

“Giving Kiwi women surfers the opportunity to battle it out amongst themselves and then to have the victor take off against the world’s best is absolutely what this festival is all about.”

The NZ Women’s Open will be held during the TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival being run in Taranaki from April 26 to May 1. Entry to the competition can now be found online at www.nzsurffestival.co.nz, and are closing on April16.

Divisions in the Open will include under-12s, under-14s, under-16s, Seniors (28 years plus), Longboard and the Open.

The Subaru Pro ASP event will include Taranaki’s own Paige Hareb among the top 17 women surfers in the world on the ASP Women’s Dream Tour.

“The TSB Bank Women’s Surf Festival will continue inspiring another generation of young female surfers to strive to reach the international standard of Paige,” says Craig.

“That inspiration comes from seeing Paige, as well as all the ASP women competitors, put on amazing displays of progressive surfing, and also being able to meet their surfing heroes in the flesh right here in NZ.”

The main arena for the Festival will be New Plymouth’s Fitzroy Beach, with nearby Back Beach and Arawhata Rd on Surf Highway 45 used as back up arenas depending on wind and swell conditions.

This year’s Festival will also feature ‘learn to surf’ lessons, and even a surfing clinic for the disabled in association with the Halberg Trust, Sport Taranaki and the New Plymouth Surfriders Club.

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