Mount surfers Costa Rica-bound

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TOP CLASS: Mount Maunganui's Raiha Ensor in action over the summer. PHOTO/FILE
TOP CLASS: Mount Maunganui's Raiha Ensor in action over the summer. PHOTO/FILE

Six of the country's top surfers, including Mount Maunganui's Matt Hewitt and Raiha Ensor, will compete at the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Surfing Games being held in Costa Rica in early August.

The event commences only days after IOC members vote on the inclusion of surfing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

The team will be led by Billy Stairmand (Raglan) and Ella Williams (Whangamata), our top two ranked surfers on the World Qualifying Series. Stairmand is joined by Hewitt, Taylor Hutchison (Raglan) and Zen Wallis (Piha) in the men's division, with Williams and Ensor in the women's division.

Mount Maunganui College student Ensor, 16, will perform double duty competing at this event as well as the World Junior Championships, which are being held in the Azores Islands off Portugal during September.

The up-and-coming surfer has already represented New Zealand at the Rip Curl GromSearch International Final held in Hawaii earlier in the year, where she placed third.

The World Surfing Games are being held at Jaco Beach starting on August 6 with close to 30 nations expected to be represented. The hosts are the defending champions and the country's passion for the sport is expected to reach fever pitch should their team defend their title.

IOC members are expected to vote on surfing's inclusion in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at some stage during the Rio Olympics.

New Zealand athletes may well be in a position to use this year's event in Costa Rica as the first step toward a four-year Olympic plan.

Stairmand is currently the top ranked Kiwi surfer in the world, his good form this year seeing him ranked 16th on the World Qualifying Series. With the US Open of Surfing being held in California during late July, Stairmand has opted to jump on a plane immediately after the event and head south to Costa Rica to compete for New Zealand. Stairmand has been unavailable for selection over the past two years due to his WQS schedule.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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