The New Zealand native qualified for the Championship Tour (CT) back in 2015. But during his season among the world's best, he made it past the treacherous second round only three times. His best result was a quarterfinal finish in Brazil. He was not able to requalify, and returned to the Qualifying Series (QS) to work his way back.
And still, 2016 was not exactly the top year either. His best result was a 9th place at the Australian Open QS contest early on, with nothing much to back it up.
This week, though, and especially today, he showed a completely different version of himself. He surfed incredibly well in the quality waves and made almost everything he tried.
Christie was under pressure early on, as his opponent had already put two decent scores on the board. But then the Kiwi started on a bomb and went all-out, risking everything on two super-critical turns for an 8.83 and ultimately, the big win.
"When the waves are like that you can forget everything and just go out there and surf," he said. "I feel like I've improved a lot, I've just been working really hard and I learned a lot when I was on tour. It doesn't feel like it's over, it's just the beginning of the year so I just have to keep doing my thing."
In the Final, Christie was facing one of the best QS surfers there is, Bino Lopes. Lopes is the unlucky surfer who stood on the very edge of qualification last season, and saw the Championship Tour shut its door right in from of him, as he just missed the cutoff.
Still, not one to lose faith and give up, Lopes came back this season hungrier than ever and with the same clear objective to making the CT's Top 34. If the Brazilian can keep surfing the way he did in Martinique and handle the pressure of the qualifying race, there is little doubt about his potential to reach that goal.
"Of course I wanted to win but Ricardo deserved it, he's such a great surfer," Lopes said. "I'm really happy because I improved on my last result here and improving every step of the way is my ultimate goal. In a heat like that there's no room for mistakes and I made one so that's fair, I'm already moving on and ready for the next challenge."
Previously, Lopes had defeated Noe Mar McGonagle in Semifinal 1. The tall, powerful regularfooter from Costa Rica posted some of the event's biggest scores in the earlier rounds. But he couldn't quite find the gems in a rough lineup and only managed to post a couple of 5-point-plus rides.
"Finals day was tough for me," said McGonagle. "The waves were a little bit slow in our Semifinal but I'm happy to move up the rankings a bit and hopefully I can keep going like this and maybe reach the Final in Barbados.
"I'm actually more comfortable on my backhand, and the next event is on a left, so I'm just going to concentrate on what I need to do in the first heat and work up from there."
The second Semifinal saw an incredible battle go down between Christie and Soli Bailey. Bailey led throughout, all the way up until Christie's final effort, in the dying minutes. The Kiwi turned the heat and won.
"It's always tough when you go through the whole week working hard and you have a loss like that," Soli admitted. "But it's a really cool place with an amazing high-performance wave so I'm stoked. I have one more chance next week in Barbados, my surfing's on point and hopefully this time I can really capitalize on my form."
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