16-year-old Gisborne surfer Stella Smith has secured New Zealand’s first ever Stand Up Paddle Surfing medal, winning bronze in the 2018 ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship.
The event is being held at Riyue Bay, Hainan Island, China with the finals contested in a fading 1.0m swell with offshore winds.
The Gisborne Girls' High School paddler finished behind two-time defending champion Shakira Westdrop (AUS) and America’s Candice Appleby with a 10.50 point heat total compared with Westdrop’s 14.37 points out of a possible 20.
“Yeah I was stoked to make the final but was still gutted with my result and thought I could've done better” said the young surfer.
“The final itself was a lot slower than the other heats and I didn't capitalise on the few sets when they came” she added of her finals performance.
The final came after Smith earlier advanced directly to the final alongside another teenager in Yuuka Horikoshi (JPN) who placed fourth in the final.
“To get the opportunity to surf against the best again was such a blessing and I'm so lucky. The Kiwi Team this year is very strong and I'm excited to watch the racers compete from tomorrow onwards” said Smith.
Smith’s performance in the surfing was complemented by eleventh place finishes for Taranaki’s Jamie Andrews and Gisborne’s Sean Hovell in the Men’s Division and a 17th place finish for Christchurch surfer Lucy Te Moananui.
The four surfers have pushed New Zealand into fourth place overall from the 26 teams competing at the event.
.The New Zealand Team comprises eleven athletes and they are looking to defend their bronze medal they secured in 2017.
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