The New Zealand Junior Surfing Team bowed out of the 2017 Vissla ISA World Junior Championships being held in Japan today after the three team members remaining in the event came up short in their afternoon heats.
The team now sits in eleventh position and will be relying on other team performances which could see them climb as high as ninth, surpassing their 2016 ranking of tenth.
New Zealand’s top-ranked surfer was Raiha Ensor (Mnt) who competed in the Under 18 Girls Division finishing ninth.
Ensor was the only Kiwi that went into day six with two lives left. However, in her first heat of the day she finished fourth and fell back into the repechage rounds where again, she suffered a loss finishing third to Hawaiian powerhouses Summer Macedo and Brisa Hennessy.
“I would have liked to make it further in the competition and better my result of seventh from last year especially with it being my final year in this event” commented Ensor of her overall performance. “I think the level of surfing has increased since last year though so I’m relatively happy with my result” she added.
Despite conditions being some of the best of the event today with waves up to 1.0m and clean offshore winds, Ensor still found the conditions tricky.
“There were two peaks you could take off from and I found myself caught between the two a bit in my qualifying round heat”.
This is the final year that Ensor is eligible for the event and she looks back fondly on how the event has progressed her surfing and in particular the amazing friendships she has made with surfers from all over the world as well as her Kiwi teammates.
Kehu Butler (Mnt) had the biggest workload of the day surfing through two rounds before falling in his third heat of the day to surfers from France and USA.
Butler finished eleventh overall and felt that it was wave selection that hindered his performance as much as an awkward fall midway through the heat.
“I slipped on my front foot and quickly pulled my elbow up to block the board hitting me. It didn’t really hinder my performance” said Butler.
“That last heat, I just caught the average waves when I should have probably waited and hunted a bigger one” said Butler of how his final heat unfolded. “But I still felt like I fought back in the end.”
Butler echoed Ensor on the performances levels describing the surfing during the week as ‘epic’.
“It’s always good to see my international friends out there pushing me and everyone to surf our best. I feel like every year the level gets higher and higher, almost to a QS level. But I definitely felt like my surfing was up there with them all, I’m just gonna walk away from this event practicing getting on the best waves” added Butler.
Gisborne’s Saffi Vette contested two heats of the Under 16 Girls Division during the day, advancing out of her fifth round matchup in second place before placing fourth in her last heat and finishing eleventh overall.
“My last heat was a shocker. I just fell off most of my waves and made a couple of mistakes. But that’s surfing. You win some, you lose some” said Vette of her final performance of the event.
“I definitely think that the previous two heats I had Bob Senior looking over me and sending me some last minute waves to make my heat” said Vette referring the late Bob Hansen, an icon of Gisborne surfing and previous coach of the team who passed away earlier this year.
Describing her performances as ‘up and down’ throughout the event, Vette felt that she had done some of the best competitive surfing that she has ever done thanks to the motivation coming from all the other girls that were in the event.
“I have definitely gained a lot of international knowledge competing in this comp and I now realise that I need to step my game up in and out of the water to be the best surfer possible. Hopefully, I take this experience over to Australia next year and do some Pro Junior events and maybe a couple QS events.”
The Moko New Zealand Junior Surfing Team is competing at the 2017 Vissla ISA World Junior Championship being held at Hyuga, Japan from 23rd September – 1st October.
The 2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship is being streamed live via ISAWorlds.com. Japan is four hours behind New Zealand and action is expected to get underway between 7:30am and 8:00am daily.
Please see below for results from day six (Friday 29th September 2017) of the 2017 Vissla ISA World Junior Surfing Championship being held at Hyuga, Japan from the 23rd September – 1st October.
Overall Team Points
1 USA 8020
2 Hawaii 7860
3 Japan 6833
4 France 6785
5 Australia 6438
6 Brazil 4918
7 Costa Rica 4500
8 Argentina 4113
9 Portugal 3793
10 Peru 3780
11 New Zealand 3750
Under 18 Boys Repechage Round 6
Marco Mignot (FRA), 13.17, 1, Kehu Butler (NZL), 13.04, 2, Joseph Méndez (CRC), 12.27, 3, Bouaouda Aboubakr (MAR), 11.16, 4
Under 18 Boys Repechage Round 7
Kehu Butler (NZL), 14.67, 1, Samson Coulter (AUS), 14.23, 2, Yuri Ogasawara (JPN), 11.63, 3, Zouhir Sélyann (MAR), 11.6, 4
Under 18 Boys Repechage Round 8
Noah Hill (USA), 14.67, 1, Marco Mignot (FRA), 13.73, 2, Hiroya Miwa (JPN), 12.2, 3, Kehu Butler (NZL), 11.7, 4
Under 18 Girls Qualifying Round 4
Minori Kawai (JPN), 17.64, 1, Neis Lartigue (FRA), 13.67, 2, Rachel Presti (USA), 11.2, 3, Raiha Ensor (NZL), 10.4, 4
Under 18 Girls Repechage Round 6
Summer Macedo (HAW), 16, 1, Brisa Hennessy (HAW), 13.17, 2, Raiha Ensor (NZL), 11, 3, Anat Lelior (ISR), 8.33, 4
Under 16 Girls Repechage Round 5
Mathea Olin (CAN), 13.27, 1, Saffi Vette (NZL), 10.40, 2, Sophia Fulton (AUS), 6.57, 3, Coral Wiggins (CRC), 6.26, 4
Under 16 Girls Repechage Round 6
Minami Nonaka (JPN), 12.10, 1, Daniella Rosas Vega (PER), 11.77, 2, Kana Nakashio (JPN), 11.17, 3, Saffi Vette (NZL), 9.87, 4
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 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.
The team has been kindly fitted out with their uniform and supported by Moko Clothing.
For further information on the New Zealand Junior Surfing Team please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.