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Kiwis name national team for ISA World Juniors this fall

Elin Tawharu © NZ Surf Photography



Team Updates

Elin Tawharu returns for the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in Japan this coming September

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 15 May, 2017 - 2016 bronze medallist Elin Tawharu of Mount Maunganui heads up the 2017 New Zealand Junior Surfing Team which was announced today.  The twelve young athletes will compete at the 2017 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championships being held in Japan in late September.

Tawharu secured New Zealand’s first medal in a decade placing third in the Under 16 Girls Division at the 2016 event which was held in the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal.  This year she has surfed her way to an unassailable lead in her age category of the New Zealand Grom Series with one event remaining.  Earlier this month she also surfed to another third place finish at the International Rip Curl GromSearch Final held in Brazil.

The young 16 year old surfer now steps up to the Under 18 Girls Division where she is joined by three-time team member Raiha Ensor (Mnt).  Ensor placed seventh in the Under 18 Girls Division in 2016, just missing out on a finals berth.

The two girls are part of a six strong contingent of Mount Maunganui surfers selected for the team.  They are joined by Kehu Butler, Elin’s older brother Jonas Tawharu, Dylan Preston and William Van Der Beek.

Butler is another surfer to move up a division to the Under 18 Boys category and despite this being his first year in the division he will go in to the event with high hopes of a podium finish.

Butler has competed at the World Junior Championships for the past three years advancing to the late stages of the event on each occasion.  This year Butler has been predominantly Australian based competing in the Australasian Pro Junior Series where he finished the year fifth overall.

Surfing beside Butler in the Pro Junior events this year has been Taranaki’s Daniel Farr.  Farr heads to Japan in his last year amongst the junior ranks and with a wealth of international experience that will help his campaign.  The two are joined by Jonas Tawharu and Dunedin’s Elliot Brown.

The team ushers in five first time representatives, all from the Under 16 age group.  Gisborne’s talented Saffi Vette is joined by Christchurch’s Tegen Bishop for the girls while Preston and Van Der Beek are joined by Hamilton’s Caleb Cutmore.  Cutmore competed with Tawharu in Brazil at the start of the month where he placed fifth in the boys division.

Taking place in Hyuga City, located in the Miyazaki prefecture of Kyushu Island, the 2017 ISA Juniors will be the first ISA event held in Japan since the 1990 World Surfing Games were held in Japan’s Chiba peninsula. Hyuga City’s Okuragahama beach offers quality waves year-round and will provide ample opportunity for the world’s best surfing youth to display their talent in world-class competition.

“Bringing the world’s best junior surfers to Japan for the first time in over 25 years is an exciting development for our sport globally. It’s also an important affirmation of the growth and popularity of Surfing in Japan following the decision to include Surfing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games” says ISA President Fernando Aguerre.

The New Zealand Team finished 10th at the 2016 VISSLA ISA World Championship which was won by France with Australia in second, Hawaii in third and this years’ hosts Japan in fourth.  The Kiwi team will aim to break into the top eight to qualify for the Aloha Cup at future events.

The 2017 New Zealand Junior Surfing Team is as follows:

Under 18 Boys
Daniel Farr (Tara)
Elliott Brown (Dun)
Jonas Tawharu (Mnt)
Kehu Butler (Mnt)

Non travelling reserve – Jared Gebert (Ohope)

Under 18 Girls
Elin Tawharu (Mnt)
Raiha Ensor (Mnt)

Non travelling reserve – Tiana – Breeze de Mooij (Mnt)

Under 16 Boys
Caleb Cutmore (Ham)
Dylan Preston (Mnt)
Kaya Horne (Mnt/Queensland)
William Van Der Beek (Mnt)

Non travelling reserve – Luke Griffin (Mnt)

Under 16 Girls
Saffi Vette (Gis)
Tegen Bishop (Chch)

Non travelling reserve – Gabrielle Paul (Piha)

Team Manager: Damien Galvan (Mnt)
Team Coach: Khan Butler (Mnt)

The World Junior Surfing Championships is an annual event having been held since 2003.  New Zealand has competed at the event since its inception as well as competing at the World Grommet Titles as it was formerly known since 1989. 

Prior to the main event the team will meet South Africa to contest the annually run ‘SANZ’ Trophy held between the two teams.  South Africa regained the trophy from New Zealand in 2014 and has held it since.  The two teams will fine tune their competitive strategies only days out from the main event.  The unique trophy that is up for grabs is made out of a solid pounamu base with paua inlay and a surfboard made out of South African hardwood.

Further Information
For further information on the New Zealand Junior Surfing Team please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email

High resolution action images of the team will be available to media free of charge upon request.

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