The New Zealand Junior Surfing Team will go in to the final day of the World Champs with two Mount Maunganui surfers vying for podium finishes after another successful day of surfing in the Azores Islands located off the coast of Portugal.
Raiha Ensor and Elin Tawharu will contest the semifinals in their respective Under-18 and Under-16 girls' divisions early on today's final day of the event.
Despite losing Kehu Butler (Mount) and former Mount surfer Kaya Horne in the Under-16 boys' division, the team climbed two places to eighth overall.
Ensor entered with high expectations after getting a taste of international competition at the World Surfing Games in July when she placed 22nd.
Now the young Mount Maunganui surfer has a real opportunity to make the podium and secure a medal for New Zealand.
"It was my goal to make the semis, so I'm super stoked to achieve my goal but it would be great to make the final," she said.
Ensor placed second to Costa Rican Emily Gussoni in their quarterfinal heat.
"The conditions were small and mush and the waves were mostly 'one-turners' but I picked up a four and a high two during my heat and managed to hold off the third-placed surfer to advance."
Fellow Mount Maunganui surfer Tawharu also won through a low scoring heat to finish the day off on a high for New Zealand.
Tawharu posted a 7.54 point heat total to advance in second place behind young Japanese surfer Minami Nonaka, the two surfers beating Mathea Olin (CAN) and Uhaina Joly (FRA).
"Yeah, I am so stoked to make it to the semis. It would be even more epic if I could get on to the podium" said Tawharu. "I just hope we get some fun waves tomorrow, today was very much like the Mount so I just tried to get some fast turns in as heaps of waves were closing out."
Earlier on the day, Kehu Butler suffered the closest loss the New Zealand team has had to endure at the event. Butler placed third in his match up losing by 0.07 to his Australian rival Kyuss King.
Butler had two attempts at the 3.91-point ride required to progress to the semifinals but came up just short, with scores of 3.83 and 3.77.
Butler finished in seventh place, equalling his best result at the event two years ago in Ecuador.
Kaya Horne's run came to an end a up against an in-form Mikey McDonaugh (AUS) and last year's bronze medallist Marco Mignot (FRA) in his heat.
Horne finished 13th equal, his best result after two years of competition at the event. The young surfer, who is now based on the Gold Coast, has one further year remaining in the Under-16 division.