Scott Cowdrey is counting down the hours before he leaves for Japan on Tuesday to contest the Sanyo Cup event.
The Papamoa surf lifesaver is in a team of 10 athletes who will represent New Zealand against six other countries at Momochi Seaside Park in Fukuoka.
The event run by the Japan Lifesaving Association is in its 11th year and the New Zealand team goes head-to-head against Australia, USA, Great Britain, South Africa, Hong Kong and hosts Japan at the beach renowned for flat surf, which Cowdrey is well used to.
It will be his first selection at the Sanyo Cup but he has represented New Zealand before in long distance prone boardpaddling.
"This is short distance racing in Japan. I am looking forward to the board races most. I am pretty keen to give those a good crack, especially with it being flat water over there. It is a really good time to get a good gauge against some other top athletes, plus the team events like the board rescue and sprint relay team are always pretty cool."
Cowdrey says there are "some awesome athletes" in the New Zealand team, including former Mount Monster winner Cory Taylor from Gisborne and Australian Murdoch Finch representing Omanu.
"It is a pretty wicked team with some really talented athletes in there with loads of experience in the sport. As a team as a whole we will be in with a pretty good chance."
Team captain Taylor says the support they get from New Zealand is really important to the team, as is the iconic black cap.
"To race under the black cap is so exciting. Every time you put it on, it makes everything so much more real."
New Zealand team coach Danny Morrison says it will be a tough but rewarding event for his team led by experienced competitors in captain Taylor and vice-captain Casie Fyall.
"The competition will be fierce, as there are so many great athletes from all over the world participating at the Sanyo Cup. The race format can be very challenging so every single race is vital to your overall success, and that's how we'll be tackling the event," Morrison says.
"Australia have won this event every year since it started in 2007 so they will no doubt be as strong as usual, but we also have to keep a close eye on Japan.
"Every year they are getting better and better, so we look forward to seeing how they've progressed this year and having a good battle with them."
Morrison is excited for his young team with this the first international event for many of them.
"This is a fantastic opportunity for our younger athletes to race on the international stage against some of the best in the world for the first time which is exciting for them. We are simply looking forward to seeing them compete to the best of their abilities and make everyone at home proud of their achievements, which we're certain they'll do."
2018 Sanyo Cup team
Casie Fyall, Waikanae (vice-captain); Claudia Kelly, East End; Cory Taylor, Midway (captain); Hannah Baker, East End; Louis Clark, Taylors Mistake; Luther Maxwell, Lyall Bay; Macy Burns, Lyall Bay; Murdoch Finch, Omanu Beach; Olivia Corrin, Midway; Scott Cowdrey, Papamoa