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Junior Surfers Surprise on Day One of Exit Surf Canterbury Champs

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It was New Zealand’s top junior surfers that made the most of conditions on day one of the Exit Surf Men’s Canterbury Surfing Championships which got underway today (Friday 26th April).

The young surfers pushed the performance levels and big scores in Round 1 of the Open Men’s Division which was held in 1.0m waves and light onshore winds at New Brighton Beach.

Leading the way was 17-year-old Whakatane surfer Jack Lee who has been in exceptional form this season.  Lee surfed to a 14.9 point heat total in his first round match-up to advance alongside local Phenom Myka Black.

“The start of the day was offshore then it swung onshore but it actually made the waves fun, even a bit more rippable I guess” said the Whakatane surfer who admitted to being a little nervous after travelling all that way and having an early morning heat against his older opponents.

Only two weeks ago, Lee won the right to represent New Zealand at the international final of the Rip Curl GromSearch at a yet to be disclosed location overseas.  He will be one of two Kiwi representatives alongside Brie Bennett.

Lee’s travelling companion Caleb Cutmore (Rag) was also in good form advancing through to the final twelve surfers in the division, the two youngsters set to surf against each other in the round.

“I am staying with Caleb, he is surfing so good and pushes me heaps so I am looking forward to having another heat with him.  I a not sure if we will talk much about the heat in the lead up, we will just do our own thing” Lee said of his pending match up with Cutmore.

The three juniors were joined by several up-and-comers competing in the Open Men’s Division for the first time this year.  Last year’s runner-up Elliott Brown (Dun) looked sharp in his early morning heat surfing to a 13.7 point heat total advancing alongside Shane Kraus (Piha).  Local Christchurch surfer Conor McLennan also advanced through the last heat of the round.

Kaikoura’s Levi O’Connor had his title defence cut short as he was ousted in the toughest heat of the round which was won by 2016 event champion Maz Quinn (Gis) with Rodney Smogyvari (Chch) securing the other advancing position.

Quinn and Somogyvari meet up with Zen Wallis (Piha) in the quarterfinals, Wallis being the winner of the most recent New Zealand Surf Series event – the Emerson’s South Island Championships held in Dunedin last weekend.

Lee and Cutmore were back in action for the junior divisions both advancing to the semifinals of the Under 18 Boys Division with high scoring heats.  This time around they are not scheduled to meet each other until the final should they both advance that far.  Another stand out in the division included 15-year-old Jayden Willoughby (Rag) who won his match up with a 13.0 point heat total.

Willoughby dominated his Under 16 Boys Division heat as well surfing to a 14.4 point heat total advancing to the semifinals alongside Koby Cameron (Chch) who finished in second.  Other heats winners included Finn Vette (Gis), James Millar (Chch) and Luke Rogers (Dun).

The Over 30 Men’s Division and Under 20 Boys Division were being contested this afternoon while surfers in the Over 45 Men’s Division, Under 14 Boys Division and Longboard had the day off.

The surf is expected to remain in the same size range for Saturday on day two of the event with an increase in wind strength from the northeast.

The dual sanctioned event with the South Island Surfing Association has the Over 30s and Over 45s Division which features South Island’s top senior talent.

The three-day event takes place from today through until Sunday (26 – 28 April) along the Christchurch coastline from Taylors Mistake to Gore Bay.  Participants across the eight divisions will be vying for $10,000 in cash and prizes.

Action will take place from 8am each day and finals are scheduled for Sunday afternoon.

The Exit Surf Men’s Canterbury Championships is the fifth of seven events on the 2019 New Zealand Surf Series.  See below for remaining events:

Backdoor Oceanbridge Manu Bay Pro, Raglan – 3-5 May
Backdoor BayBash, location TBC – 16-17 November

For more information on the Exit Surf Men’s Canterbury Championships please contact Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz.  Alternatively contact Russell Ritchie on 0274325972 – russell.ritchie@xtra.co.nz.

The Exit Surf Men’s Canterbury Surfing Championships would not be possible without the support of Exit Surf, Make, Eruption Brewery, Pier Lodge, Dave’s Carpet Installations, Robertson and McKenzie families, host club North Wai Boardriders and the South Island Surfing Association.

High resolution images will be available to media upon request. Images will be distributed free of charge.

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