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Pressing Day For Kiwis In Japan With Mixed Fortunes

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The New Zealand Junior Surfing Team mixed success with defeat on day four of the World Junior Championships with the team securing four wins throughout the day combined with three team members exiting the event altogether.

Raiha Ensor (Mnt) led the team surfing her way into the last eight surfers in the qualifying round of the Under 18 Girls Division.  She was joined by Elliot Brown (Dun), Saffi Vette (Gis) and Caleb Cutmore (Ham) who all advanced out of their respective heats today.

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.

Day four saw the biggest wave on offer yet with a decent 1.0m swell which become affected by the onshore winds as the day wore on.

Ensor contested one of the toughest heats of the day advancing in second place behind the highly touted Kirra Pinkerton (USA).  Together the two surfers eliminated top Hawaiian seed Brissa Hennessy.

Ensor posted 11.50 out of 20 to advance after getting an early start to the heat.

“I got my first wave within the first 30 seconds and it came in as a mid-five and I knew I just had to build on that” said Ensor.

“Getting that first wave kept me calm but I was also focused on the fact that I needed a back-up. I ended up getting a six midway through the heat and then from there it as just a matter of closing out Brissa who was in third by using my priority” Ensor added clearly taking confidence in the fact that waves looked and surfed similar to her home breaks at Mount Maunganui.

Ensor will now face a wait to see when she next competes but may have earned a day off before she is next in the water and until then she simply wants to “just rest up, support the Kiwi crew and keep the ball rolling once back in the water”.

Ensor’s team mates competing in the qualifying rounds were not so fortunate with Kehu Butler (Mnt) and Jonas Tawharu (Mnt) both being relegated to the repechage rounds of the Under 18 Boys Division and William Van Der Beek (Mnt) also suffering the same fate in the Under 16 Boys Division.

It was Dunedin’s Elliott Brown that got his campaign back on track in the repechage rounds advancing through to Round 3.  Brown was the first Kiwi to surf on the day and placed second in his heat.

“I would definitely prefer a heat that’s later in the day, early mornings are hard work” commented Brown who was under an injury cloud leading into the event and is still having trouble.

“It’s been good and bad. Paddling makes my elbow area a bit sore after a while, but the actual surfing part is fine which is the main thing. Hopefully, it will just keep getting better with time” he said of the injury.

It is the second year at the event for Brown who continues to take away learnings.  “Every heat I’ve gotten a bit more experience. The biggest areas of learning for me so far have been about good wave selection and trying to do the type of critical in-the-pocket surfing that the judges are looking for”.

Late in the afternoon, the New Zealand Team secured two more heat progressions with Saffi Vette (Gis) advancing through to the third round of the Under 16 Girls Division.  And in the last heat of the day, it was Hamilton’s Caleb Cutmore that advanced in second place in the second round of the Under 16 Boys Division.

“It feels good to get back into the rhythm of winning heats after losing in the second round” said Cutmore.

“I’ve got a lot of heats ahead of me but I’m just taking it one at a time and trying to surf my best each and every heat” he added.

Both Cutmore and Vette will be back in action tomorrow (Thursday) when they look to continue their run.

The New Zealand Team had three surfers eliminated from the event on day four.

Jared Gebert (Ohope) bowed out of the Under 18 Boys Division finishing 65th overall.  Dylan Preston (Mnt) was eliminated in the same round of the Under 16 Boys Division also finishing 65th.  Tegen Bishop (Chch) was eliminated from the Under 16 Girls Division finishing 33rd overall.

Elin Tawharu (Mnt) and Kaya Horne (Gold Coast) were scheduled to surf late in the day before organisers decided to halt proceedings.  The two surfers will be up early on day five of the event.

The swell is forecast to decrease heading into day five and continue that trend through to the weekend when the finals will be contested.

New Zealand went into the day in equal first position with eleven other teams who had not dropped a surfer out of the event.  However, at the end of day four, the team sits in eleventh.  France, Australia, Japan and USA are tied for first having not lost any surfers from the event.

Day 5 schedule

Podium 1
12:05pm – Under 18 Girls Division Repechage Round 2, Heat 4 – Elin Tawharu (Mnt)
1:35pm – Under 18 Boys Repechage Round 3, Heat 2 – Elliot Brown (Dun)
5:25pm – Under 18 Boys Repechage Round 4, Heat 4 – Jonas Tawharu (Mnt)
5:40pm – Under 18 Boys Repechage Round 4, Heat 5 – Kehu Butler (Mnt)
*further heats depending on progression of surfers in early rounds
Podium 2
11:15pm – Under 16 Boys Repechage Round 2, Heat 10 – Kaya Horne (Gold Coast)
1:30pm – Under 16 Boys Repechage Round 3, Heat 3 – Caleb Cutmore (Ham)
6:30pm – Under 16 Boys Repechage Round 4, Heat 7 – William Van Der Beek (Mnt)
* further heats depending on progression of surfers in early rounds

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 four (Wednesday 27th September 2017) of the 2017 Vissla ISA World Junior Surfing Championship being held at Hyuga, Japan from the 23rd September – 1st October.

Under 18 Boys Qualifying Round 3
Heat 3
Leo Paul Etienne (FRA), 13.46, 1, Alan Cleland Jr (MEX), 12.40, 2, Dean Vandewalle (BEL), 11.44, 3, Jonas Tawharu (NZL), 9.50, 4
Heat 5
Cody Young (HAW), 14.73, 1, Cole Houshmand (USA), 13.67, 2, Kehu Butler (NZL), 12.14, 3, Tao Rodriguez (PAN), 9.17, 4

Under 18 Boys Repechage Round 2
Heat 1
Dylan Groen (GER), 11.77, 1, Elliott Brown (NZL), 9.93, 2, Ido Arkin (ISR), 9.04, 3, Joshe Faulkner (RSA), 8.33, 4
Heat 15
Erwan Blouin (FRA), 14.83, 1, João Moreira (POR), 9.96, 2, Jared Gebert (NZL), 8.67, 3, Max Michalewski (POL), 6.80, 4

Under 16 Boys Qualifying Round 3
Heat 8
Joh Azuchi (JPN), 14.7, 1, Zouhir Sélyann (MAR), 11.07, 2, Cristobal Montecinos (CHI), 9.86, 3, William Van Der Beek (NZL), 9.34, 4

Under 16 Boys Repechage Round 2
Heat 2
Eli Beukes (RSA), 12.34, 1, Edoardo Papa (ITA), 9.00, 2, Dylan Preston (NZL), 8.14, 3, Max Michalewski (POL), 6.77, 4
Heat 8
Max Elkington (RSA), 11.33, 1, Caleb Cutmore (NZL), 10.87, 2, Reed Platenius (CAN), 8.14, 3, Jeronimo Ane (ARG), 7.53, 4

Under 18 Girls Qualifying Round 3
Heat 4
Kirra Pinkerton (USA), 17.17, 1, Raiha Ensor (NZL), 11.5, 2, Brisa Hennessy (HAW), 7.67, 3, Zulay Martínez (CRC), 6.34, 4

Under 16 Girls Repechage Round 2
Heat 3
Mafalda Lopes (POR), 7.44, 1, Kayla Gabriella Nogueira (RSA), 7.03, 2, Tegan Bishop (NZL), 6.50, 3, Kiesha Wakeham (FIJ), 2,83, 4
Heat 6
Saffi Vette (NZL), 10.37, 1, S’nenhlanhla Makhubu (RSA), 8.30, 2, Irie FitzGerald (GUM), 3.23, 3, Emma Iacoponi (ITA), 3.23, 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.

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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