The Kiwi boys have had to battle the biggest swell of the week on day five of the 2016 Vissla ISA World Junior Surfing Championship in the Azores Islands off Portugal this week.
The swell, in excess of 2m, had made conditions dangerous with multiple boards being snapped, including one from our own Manu Scott-Arrieta (Sandy Bay).
The size and power of the swell forced organisers to withhold all female heats on day five and also on the upcoming day six of the event. Competition was held on only one of the two podiums today.
The New Zealand team held their own in the big surf with critical heat wins that saw three surfers advance to the third round joining Mount Maunganui team mates Kehu Butler, Jonas Tawharu, Elin Tawharu, Kea Smith and Raiha Ensor.
The youngest of the team, Kaya Horne, had a tough second round match-up where he was relegated to the repechage round, which he would contest first thing on day six.
Ohope surfer and first-time team member Jared Gebert was full of confidence after winning his way in to the third round of the Under-16 Boys Division with an 11.34 point heat total.
Earlier on day four, the team advanced three surfers through to the third round as well as suffering three exits from the event.
Raiha Ensor (Mount) forced her way out of the repechage rounds back to the main event, making up for an earlier loss that she lamented.
"I just want to take it heat by heat and try and give my all in each one," she said.
"Everyone rips in these comps by the time you get to the later rounds so I think I'll just need to be confident in myself and my surfing."
Fellow Mount Maunganui surfer Kea Smith also battled her way out of the repechage rounds in the Under-16 Girls Division.
"Most of your effort is put into your paddle back out after waves, it is very dangerous also, a lot of teams have complained saying the heats should not held in the conditions," Kea said after her day four heat and before the swell increased further.
Kehu Butler made easy work of his day four match up in the second round, advancing to the top half of the draw with confidence.
"My game plan heading into my heat was to be selective and try and catch the two best waves to save me from duck-diving heaps," he said.
The three losses came from our surfers in the Under-18 Boys and Girls Divisions.
Daniel Farr (Tara) and Lee Ririnui (Mount) had low-scoring heats on day four of the event and could not find any decent waves among the relentless close outs. The two surfers finished third in their respective heats and 97th equal overall.