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Team Announcement: New Zealand Junior Surfing Team

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Fresh from the announcement of last week’s impressive New Zealand Surfing Team, twelve talented juniors have been named in the New Zealand Junior Surfing Team today (Wednesday 23rd May).

The New Zealand Junior Surfing Team will compete at the 2018 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship being held at Huntington Beach, California, USA in late October.

The New Zealand Team sees a strong showing from Raglan, Bay of Plenty and Christchurch with three surfers a piece, as well as surfers being selected from Gisborne, Whangarei, and Oakura.

There are seven debutants in the team comprising all surfers in the Under 16 Divisions and Christchurch surfer Conor McLennan who will contest the Under 18 Boys Division.

Kehu Butler (Mnt) was selected as part of the New Zealand Team last week and will complete double-duty after being named in the junior team today.  He will lead the junior team in his final year of eligibility. 

18-year-old Butler spends much of his time competing internationally both in Australia and around the world and has been part of the junior team since 2013.  His experience at the event will be highly valuable as he searches for his first podium finish across the boys divisions.  Butler will offer up a wealth of knowledge to his younger teammates as they take on the event for the first time.

Fellow Mount Maunganui surfer Elin Tawharu is the lone medal winner in the team having placed third in the Under 16 Girls Division at the 2016 edition of the event held in Portugal.  Like Butler, Tawharu has also been splitting her time between domestic and international events this year competing in the Australasian Pro Junior Series in Australia.

Tawharu is joined by Kea Smith (Mnt) and Saffi Vette (Gis) in the Under 18 Girls Division, Vette moving up to the Under 18 Girls Division this year.

Vette, Brie Bennett (Rag) and Caleb Cutmore (Ham) were the last Kiwi surfers to compete in an international event when they took on the Rip Curl GromSearch International Final staged at Raglan earlier this month.  Vette placed third at the event with Cutmore and Bennett finishing fifth.

The youngest surfer in the team is 14-year-old Kora Cooper (Rag) who is joined by Tom Robinson (Whangarei) and Myka Black (Chch) in the Under 16 Boys Division.  The three young surfers will have to predominantly draw on their domestic experience gained here in New Zealand as they take on the best in the world and immerse themselves in the international arena.

Ariana Shewry (Tara) and Estella Hungerford (Chch) round out the team and together with Bennett, will contest the Under 16 Girls Division.  Despite being her first time at the event, Shewry has been travelling around the globe over the past 18 months competing at various international events and holds the most experience to draw on out of the three young surfers.

The team will compete at the 2018 VISSLA ISA World Junior Championship being held at Huntington Beach, California, USA from the 27th October – 4th November.  In 2017 the New Zealand Team placed tenth overall.  USA won the event beating Hawaii, Japan and Australia who finished second through fourth respectively.

The championship is the largest junior surfing event in the world playing host to over 300 surfers from 41 nations in 2017 when the event was held in Japan.

2018 marks the first year that all divisions are gender equal at the event with three surfers in each of the four divisions contested.

The 2018 New Zealand Junior Surfing Team is as follows:

Under 18 Boys Division
Caleb Cutmore (Hamilton)
Conor McLennan (Christchurch)
Kehu Butler (Mount Maunganui)

Non travelling reserve – Elliott Brown (Dunedin)

Under 18 Girls Division
Elin Tawharu (Mount Maunganui)
Kea Smith (Mount Maunganui)
Saffi Vette (Gisborne)

Non travelling reserve – Tiana-Breeze de Mooij (Mount Maunganui)

Under 16 Boys Division
Kora Cooper (Raglan)
Myka Black (Christchurch)
Tom Robinson (Whangarei)

Non travelling reserve – Jack Lee (Whakatane)

Under 16 Girls Division
Ariana Shewry (Oakura)
Brie Bennett (Raglan)
Estella Hungerford (Christchurch)

Non travelling reserve – Georgia Wederell (Mount Maunganui)

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 Junior Surfing Team please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz.

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