SNZ Update - May 2017

The traditionally slow run of early-season major WQS events continues with Kiwi’s taking a lot of time out as well as competing at the odd event.

Ricardo’s win at the Martinique Surf Pro at the start of April has put him in a solid ranking of twelfth as he sets up for several events later this month and in to June/July.  The win was Ricardo’s first ever on the WQS and also came in the first final he has ever contested.  He followed up the result with a 17th at the Barbados Surf Pro only weeks later.  But, for the past month, Ricardo has been based on the Gold Coast training and taking some time out.  Next event is the Ichinomiya Chiba Open in Japan.  The QS6,000 is the third major event of the year and is followed up by three minor comps in South Africa leading in to the Baillito Pro QS10,000, the first prime event of the year scheduled for 3-9 July.

While Ricardo chased two events in Central America, Billy Stairmand stayed home.  However, he will join Ricardo in Japan.  After his win at the Rip Curl Pro Raglan, Billy will also be able to get to South Africa for the first prime of the year.  It is hoped that a couple of results at these events will elevate him back up the rankings from his current position of 174th.

Above: A great start to the year for Ricardo Christie - Photo: WSL

Paige Hareb holds down fourth on the women’s rankings and again has been light on the competitive side of things over the past two months.  Paige matched Ricardo’s 17th at the Barbados Surf Pro a month ago but has spent the last four weeks both here in New Zealand and training overseas.  Paige heads to Japan for the Ichinomiya Chiba Open, a QS3,000 for the girls, before heading to the Los Cabos Open of Surf in early June, the third of six QS6,000 events this year.

Ella Williams, currently sitting in 48th, will join Paige in Mexico but will miss the Japan event as she represents New Zealand in France at the World Surfing Games.

The Australasian Pro Junior events have kept our juniors busy and they finished a week ago on the Gold Coast.  Kehu Butler went into the final event in fourth place overall chasing a top three finish for WSL World Junior Championship qualification.  Unfortunately Kehu dipped out in the second round which pushed him back to a still highly-credible fifth place at years end.

Daniel Farr secured his second best result of the year with a ninth place finish at the Gold Coast event and 25th overall for the year, one place ahead of Tane Bowden.

Raiha Ensor finished her Pro Junior career with her best result of a fifth place in the girls division.  Raiha finished the year 12th overall with fellow Mount Maunganui surfer Kea Smith finishing the year in 23rd.

Outside the WSL events, both Elin Tawharu and Caleb Cutmore travelled to Brazil to represent New Zealand at the International Rip Curl GromSearch Final at the start of the month.  The two were lucky enough to be hosted at the Gabriel Medina High Performance Centre and compete against the best juniors in the world.  Elin place third at the event, eliminated in the semifinals by winner Caroline Marks (USA).  Caleb finished the event in fifth place after losing out in the quarterfinals.  

2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championships

2016 bronze medallist Elin Tawharu of Mount Maunganui heads up the 2017 New Zealand Junior Surfing Team which was announced today (Monday 15th May).  The twelve young athletes will compete at the 2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championships being held in Japan in late September.

Tawharu secured New Zealand’s first medal in a decade placing third in the Under 16 Girls Division at the 2016 event which was held in the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal.  This year she has surfed her way to an unassailable lead in her age category of the New Zealand Grom Series with one event remaining.  Earlier this month she also surfed to another third place finish at the International Rip Curl GromSearch Final held in Brazil.

The young 16 year old surfer now steps up to the Under 18 Girls Division where she is joined by three-time team member Raiha Ensor (Mnt).  Ensor placed seventh in the Under 18 Girls Division in 2016, just missing out on a finals berth.

The two girls are part of a six strong contingent of Mount Maunganui surfers selected for the team.  They are joined by Kehu Butler, Elin’s older brother Jonas Tawharu, Dylan Preston and William Van Der Beek.

Butler is another surfer to move up a division to the Under 18 Boys category and despite this being his first year in the division he will go in to the event with high hopes of a podium finish.

Butler has competed at the World Junior Championships for the past three years advancing to the late stages of the event on each occasion.  This year Butler has been predominantly Australian based competing in the Australasian Pro Junior Series where he finished the year fifth overall.

Surfing beside Butler in the Pro Junior events this year has been Taranaki’s Daniel Farr.  Farr heads to Japan in his last year amongst the junior ranks and with a wealth of international experience that will help his campaign.  The two are joined by Jonas Tawharu and Dunedin’s Elliot Brown.

The team ushers in five first time representatives, all from the Under 16 age group.  Gisborne’s talented Saffi Vette is joined by Christchurch’s Tegen Bishop for the girls while Preston and Van Der Beek are joined by Hamilton’s Caleb Cutmore.  Cutmore competed with Tawharu in Brazil at the start of the month where he placed fifth in the boys division.

Taking place in Hyuga City, located in the Miyazaki prefecture of Kyushu Island, the 2017 ISA Juniors will be the first ISA event held in Japan since the 1990 World Surfing Games were held in Japan’s Chiba peninsula. Hyuga City’s Okuragahama beach offers quality waves year-round and will provide ample opportunity for the world’s best surfing youth to display their talent in world-class competition.

“Bringing the world’s best junior surfers to Japan for the first time in over 25 years is an exciting development for our sport globally. It’s also an important affirmation of the growth and popularity of Surfing in Japan following the decision to include Surfing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games” says ISA President Fernando Aguerre.

The New Zealand Team finished 10th at the 2016 VISSLA ISA World Championship which was won by France with Australia in second, Hawaii in third and this years’ hosts Japan in fourth.  The Kiwi team will aim to break into the top eight to qualify for the Aloha Cup at future events.

The 2017 New Zealand Junior Surfing Team is as follows:

Under 18 Boys
Daniel Farr (Tara)
Elliott Brown (Dun)
Jonas Tawharu (Mnt)
Kehu Butler (Mnt)

Non travelling reserve – Jared Gebert (Ohope)

Under 18 Girls
Elin Tawharu (Mnt)
Raiha Ensor (Mnt)

Non travelling reserve – Tiana – Breeze de Mooij (Mnt)

Under 16 Boys
Caleb Cutmore (Ham)
Dylan Preston (Mnt)
Kaya Horne (Mnt/Queensland)
William Van Der Beek (Mnt)

Non travelling reserve – Luke Griffin (Mnt)

Under 16 Girls
Saffi Vette (Gis)
Tegen Bishop (Chch)

Non travelling reserve – Gabrielle Paul (Piha)

Team Manager: Damien Galvan (Mnt)
Team Coach: Khan Butler (Mnt)

The World Junior Surfing Championships is an annual event having been held since 2003.  New Zealand has competed at the event since its inception as well as competing at the World Grommet Titles as it was formerly known since 1989. 

Prior to the main event the team will meet South Africa to contest the annually run ‘SANZ’ Trophy held between the two teams.  South Africa regained the trophy from New Zealand in 2014 and has held it since.  The two teams will fine tune their competitive strategies only days out from the main event.  The unique trophy that is up for grabs is made out of a solid pounamu base with paua inlay and a surfboard made out of South African hardwood.