The New Zealand Surf Life Saving High Performance team finished an impressive second at the annual Sanyo Cup in Japan, after two days of intense competition against some of the world's best surf athletes at Momochi Beach in Fukuoka.

After finishing 20 points behind main rivals Australia on the first day, the New Zealand team pushed back on day two to finish a mere eight points behind their rivals, meaning they finished the overall event in second and challenged the strong Australian team.

The second day of Sanyo Cup was different to the first, with hot weather and a commitment from the New Zealand team to push themselves to the limit which, spectators say, they did.

New Zealand coach Danny Morrison says every athlete did the country proud after giving it "everything they had".

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"We are very proud of our team as they gave it absolutely everything on the beach and left nothing in the tank. They all took on the challenge of improving on their day one performance and I'm stoked to say they delivered on that promise."

"They took on some of the best surf athletes in the world and to deliver the results that they did, is very pleasing. We couldn't be happier with their performance."

Morrison says the two stand out performances came from Scott Cowdrey (Pāpāmoa), who was "phenomenal" on the board, and Olivia Corrin (Midway) for her "gutsy" performance.

Cowdrey claimed a win in the board rescue with captain Cory Taylor (Midway) and then backed it up with a convincing win in the board race which supporters say was "simply awesome to watch".

Beach specialists Casie Fyall (Waikanae) and Murdoch Finch (Ōmanu) put in their usual hard work in the arenas where a nano-second can often be the difference between first and last place. They both toiled hard in some really tough racing with excellent results.

Taylor continued to lead from the front as he pushed himself through race after race with his results truly displaying his world class skills across the beach.

His leadership, direction and inspiration across the beach drove this team to many of their successes throughout the day, Morrison says.

Corrin swam to a very close second in the surf race and then won the notoriously difficult Ironwoman race which was outstanding.

"The drive to take the Ironwoman race was particularly inspirational and is a true credit to Olivia's guts and determination to win the race despite a field of world-class athletes," Morrison says.

Surf Life Saving New Zealand sport manager Mike Lord praised the athletes and team management for doing a great job representing New Zealand at this international carnival.

"Thank you to the entire team for their hard work and dedication at the Sanyo Cup. A special thank you has to go to Danny Morrison, Jack Gavin and Steve Vaughan for their unwavering support of this team, and leading them to second overall."