Kehu Butler has moved further toward the top of the ladder on the World Surf League men's junior Oceania qualifying series after taking out the Oz Grom Open.
Going into the event sixth on the leaderboard, the Mt Maunganui surfer bagged the maximum 1000 points to move to second in the overall standings.
Butler carried good form into the final at Lennox Head in New South Wales, winning his semifinal by a comfortable margin. However the final provided a tougher task as few of the waves held their face for long enough to produce high scores.
Australian Callum Robson, the Oceania men's junior QS leader, had the best of the early exchanges between the four finalists, which included fellow Australians Xavier Huxtable and Dextar Muskens.
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Jumping on the first wave offering some decent scoring potential, Robson quickly posted a score in the seven-point range, and soon added on in the five-point range. Butler struggled to find much above a five as every wave he caught closed out two turns in.
But after taking to the air for a quick five-point punt, Butler took a risk and moved to another spot down the beach. It paid off as he found only the second wave of the heat that held its face and made the most of it - posting a score in the eight-point range to take the lead inside the final minutes.
It didn't change hands from there, as the Kiwi closed out an important victory. Robson finished in second to remain ahead of Butler on the overall ladder.
"The waves were pretty slow and pretty little. Before I got that eight-point ride I thought I was done for all money," Butler told the Herald after the win.
Moving into the top four in the overall standings with the win, Butler was now looking likely to secure a spot to contest the junior world championships. The top four surfers in each of the five regions (Oceania, North America, Africa, Europe, Hawaii/Tahiti Nui) qualify for a chance to be named junior world champion early in 2019.