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The New Zealand Junior Surfing Team are poised and ready to compete on the eve of the 2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship being held in Japan starting tomorrow (23rd September).

Host nation Japan is set to usher in a new era for surfing three years out from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The Kiwis have spent the past three days familiarising themselves with the waves and culture of Japan.

“The team is in good spirits and they are all surfing well in the tiny conditions we have had so far” commented team coach Khan Butler.

“I think the two training weekends at the Mount were good prep for here. They have been holding their own out amongst the pack which was our aim when surfing the comp bank and now they have heaps of confidence coming into the event” he added.

The team will contest the SANZ Trophy today against South Africa as a warm up to the main event.

Saturday will see the team participate in the Parade of Nations and the Sands of the World Ceremony before the surfing action commences on Sunday and runs through until October 1st.

The swell is forecast to build throughout the first three days of the event before tapering off for the latter half of the week.  The swell forecast will please the New Zealand Team despite their preparations in the small waves.

The twelve Kiwi team members will be led by the Under 18 Boys and Girls.  2016 bronze medallist Elin Tawharu (Mnt) steps up a division and is joined by Raiha Ensor (Mnt), the two girls aiming for podium finishes this year.  Ensor also competed at the ISA World Surfing Games held in France earlier in the year so has had a good build-up of international competition this year.

Kehu Butler (Mnt) has spent much of the first nine months of this year competing overseas and will go into the Boys Division as one of the favourite surfers at the event.  He is joined by Elliot Brown (Dun) and Jonas Tawharu (Mnt), two surfers that attended the Fiji Launch Pad High Performance Camp during July this year.  Second-time team member Jared Gebert (Ohope) rounds out the four boys as a late replacement for Daniel Farr (Tara) who is continuing his World Qualifying Series campaign with a QS3000 event in the Philippines.

Gold Coast based Kaya Horne is the most experienced of the surfers in the Under 16 Boys Division having contested the event on two previous occasions.  Horne is joined by three first-time team members in William Van Der Beek (Mnt), Caleb Cutmore (Ham) and Dylan Preston (Mnt).  The girls are represented by Saffi Vette (Gis) and Tegen Bishop (Cant), the two surfers being first-time team members.

The 2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship is being streamed live via ISAWorlds.com.  Japan is three hours behind New Zealand and action is expected to get underway at 8:00am daily (11:am NZT).

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 team has been kindly fitted out with their uniform and supported by Moko Clothing.

The 2017 Moko New Zealand Junior Surfing Team is as follows:

Under 18 Boys
Elliott Brown (Dun)
Jared Gebert (Ohope)
Jonas Tawharu (Mnt)
Kehu Butler (Mnt)

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

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

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

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.

Further Information
For further information on the New Zealand Junior Surfing Team please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz

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