Mount Maunganui surfer Jonas Tawharu starred for the New Zealand Junior Surfing team on day one of the Vessel ISA World Junior Championships in the Azores Islands, off the coast of Portugal.

New Zealand was competing amongst 39 nations and more than 370 surfers in the largest ever field.

Four New Zealand surfers were in action on the first day with success coming from Bay of Plenty surfers Tawharu in the Under 18 Boys Division and first time national representative Jared Hebert (Hope) in the Under 16 Boys Division.

The surf remained clean throughout the afternoon and into the evening with a dying 1m swell on offer at the beach break.


Hebert admitted to some early nerves before entering the water but surfed well to place second behind one of the event favourites, Kaye's King (AUS).

"Our whole team has been real cool at supporting everyone and I kind of just went in to it as just another heat. It's no different to ones at home, you've just got to go out there and surf," Hebert said.

"It is amazing to see how well other people surf from around the world. It makes you push your surfing hard and try new things."

Hebert finished with an 8.16 point heat total to advance to Round 2.

Notably this year's event strayed away from the usual double elimination format with a modified ''second chance'' format, where surfers who lost in the first and second round got a second chance to make it back to the main event.

However, from Round 3, the event was do or die for all competitors.

Tawharu surfed in the last heat of the day on the main podium, finishing second behind French surfer Len's Arrancibia.

Tawharu posted a low heat total of 7.57 compared with Arrancibia's 12.17 but it was enough to progress to the second round of the main event. He had moved up a division to the Under-18 Boys this year after representing New Zealand on two previous occasions in the Under-16 Boys Division.

Kiwi surfers that were relegated to the repechage rounds today included Manu Scott-Arrieta (Sandy Bay) in the Under-18 Boys Division and Elliot Brown (Dun) in the Under-16 Boys Division. Both surfers contested close heats and had their opportunities to advance but could not find the required scores.

They would now face two rounds in the repechage before potentially making it back into the main event.