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New Zealand Surfing Team returns to El Salvador

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For immediate release

18 April 2023

From:     Surfing New Zealand
Sport:    International Surfing
Event:    2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games
Divisions: Open Men and Open Women
Date:      30 May – 7 June 2022
Location: El Salvador
Websites: ISA World Juniors and Surfing New Zealand

New Zealand Surfing Team returns to El Salvador

An all-star team of New Zealand surfers has qualified for the 2023 Surf City El Salvador ISA World Surfing Games being held this May.  The pinnacle event is the second Olympic qualifying opportunity for our top surfers with two places at Paris 2024 up for grabs for the top ranked surfers from the Oceania Region.

The New Zealand Surfing team will compete at the event from May the 30th to June 7, in Surf City, El Salvador at the world-renowned breaks of El Sunzal and La Bocana.

Billy Stairmand (Rag), Kehu Butler (Mnt) and Dune Kennings (Piha) will represent New Zealand in the Men’s Division.  Billy and Kehu gained entry through 2022 World Surf League (WSL) Challenger Series and Dune Kennings through his win at the 2023 National Surfing Championships held at Piha in January.

Paige Hareb (Tara), Saffi Vette (Gis) and Pia Rogers (WGM) will represent New Zealand in the Women’s Division.  Hareb qualifies via the WSL Challenger Series like Stairmand and Butler with Vette via the 2023 WSL Australia/Oceania Qualifying Series and Rogers through her title at the National Championships in January.

Billy Stairmand, follows on from his successful QS campaign in Australia this summer where he placed 6th overall in the Australia/Oceania rankings.  He is looking forward to his busy schedule of upcoming events. “‘I’m really looking forward to the next couple months. First the Challengers in Australia and then off to El Salvador for the World Surfing Games. I’m super motivated this year and feeling fit and healthy”.

On his qualification for the New Zealand team

“To be selected for the worlds is amazing. You are representing New Zealand in a different way, and I can’t wait. This event has a lot more of a team vibe, it’s fun. But at the same time, I’ve got my own personal goals I want to tick off. I’m ready to really knuckle down and put my best foot forward, bring it on”.

Kehu Butler will also look to continue his success from his QS campaign where he finished 8th including a runner-up finish at the Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro and two fifth-place finishes. Not unfamiliar with big international events, Kehu has his eyes set for the top of the podium and  New Zealand Olympic Team qualification.

On the women’s side of the draw, Paige Hareb returns to the event looking to better her 11th placing in 2021. After a runner-up finish on the Australia/Oceania Qualifying Series this summer, Hareb looks to be a favourite for the event and hopes to qualify for the New Zealand Olympic Team in Paris 2024.

Saffi Vette also heads to El Salvador having participated at the same location in 2021.. This is sixteen-year-old Pia Rogers’ second time to El Salvador as well after travelling there with the New Zealand Junior Team in 2022. “Knowing what it’s like after being there for juniors last year I am looking forward to the experience, the people and in particular joining a new, experienced team. Rogers joins a team of New Zealand’s top surfers who have travelled the world over surfing on the World Surf League and dominating the New Zealand Surf Series for the best part of a decade.

“As the youngest in the team, I feel like there’s a lot to learn,” she exclaims. “I am just so excited, incredible place, incredible waves and amazing people, it’s super cool”.

Rogers’ biggest worry however is her health, “After myself and another teammate fell sick last year there is of course some nerves, but I am just going to do everything in my power to keep as healthy, fit and strong as I can leading up to it, I want to get over there and make the most of this incredible experience and have fun while doing it”.

Over 50 countries and 250 athletes will participate at the event.  Four continents will qualify surfers for Paris 2024 with the surfing at the event being held at Teahupoo, Tahiti.

El Salvador is no stranger to top level competition with the 2021 edition of the event being held there and the World Junior Surfing Championships also held at the famous Surf City in 2022.

The most recent World Surf Games event was held in Huntington Beach, USA where a six-strong team of Kiwis attended and placed 19th in the world. New Zealand has been attending the ISA World Surfing Games since the 60s and continues to do so this year with the team travelling to El Salvador for one of the most important events of the year.

The 2023 New Zealand Surfing Team is as follows:

Billy Stairmand (Rag)
Kehu Butler (Mnt)
Dune Kennings (Piha)

Paige Hareb (Tara)
Pia Rogers (WGM)
Saffi Vette (Gis)

Team Coach: Matt Scorringe
Team Manager: Michelle Rellis

About International Surfing Association (ISA)
The International Surfing Association (ISA) is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the World Governing Authority for surfing, bodyboarding, SUP and surfriding.  It was originally founded as the International Surfing Federation in 1964 and has been running world championships since 1964, and the Junior World Championships since 1980.

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

High resolution action images of team members will be available to media free of charge upon request.

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