The New Zealand Junior Surfing Team has finished twelfth at the VISSLA ISA World Junior Championship completed early this week in California, USA.
The New Zealand Team performance was highlighted by top performers in the Under 18s Division and Under 16 Girls Division with Caleb Cutmore (Ham) finishing 13th overall in the Under 18 Boys Division.
Gisborne’s Saffi Vette finished 16th overall in the Under 18 Girls Division and Brie Bennett (Rag) finished 19th in the Under 16 Girls Division.
Cutmore advanced through seven rounds of the event eliminating teammate Conor Mclennan (Chch) in the process, McLennan finishing 17th overall.
“I was stoked with how I ended up going throughout the comp” said Cutmore.
“I was a bit gutted when I got the double interference in the third round but it turned out to be a positive as I started to gain momentum throughout the repechage rounds. With each round I progressed through, I felt less pressure as I had nothing to lose, I was surfing against some big names and I was the underdog. I was stoked with some of the waves I got and heats that I surfed but I feel as though I still have a lot more to give and I want to come back stronger next time” added Cutmore who is eligible for the event again in 2019.
Cutmore’s last heat was a high scoring affair with the Hamilton surfer posting a 13.10 point heat total yet finishing third to surfers from Spain and Peru.
“I started off my last heat with a 7 and then backed it up with a 6. I was still looking for a steeper wave where I could start to go more top to bottom. There weren’t many waves coming through and I couldn’t find what I was looking for. Two other surfers in the heat dropped 7’s and 8’s so I was left chasing a 7.8 and I couldn’t find it. I was still glad I put up a good fight though and I learnt heaps surfing against those top guys.”
Mclennan had remained in the main round of the event up until Round 4 before suffering back to back defeats in the main round and repechage round.
Shane Kraus (Piha) finished the event in 49th overall after exiting in the Repechage Round 3.
Gisborne’s Saffi Vette placed 16th overall in the Under 18 Girls Division as the highest placed female Kiwi. Surfing in the division for the first time, Vette found herself taking in a lot of learnings as she pushed through some tight rounds to advance her cause.
“I felt like my overall performance was good but I needed to get on the best waves and I didn’t really give myself the chance to show the judges my best surfing. But then again I learnt so much from being in high pressure situations and I have learnt a lot from my losses.”
“Hopefully something will click soon and I can come back better next year” added the young surfer who returns to New Zealand via Australia where she is competing in the final WSL World Qualifying Series event of the year this week.
Vette failed to fire a shot in her final heat of the event finishing in fourth with a 7.60 point heat total, despite that, only requiring a modest 5.57 point ride to advance.
“Oh my last heat I had a total shocker! I was pretty disappointed with the way I surfed and was lucky to even make it through the heat before. So that was not the way I wanted to exit but I have seen all the mistakes I made wave selection and priority errors so hopefully I can put that into practice so I can make them my strengths in future” said Vette.
Tiana – Breeze de Mooij (Mnt) and Kea Smith (Mnt) finished 31st and 49threspectively in the Under 18 Girls Division.
Raglan’s Brie Bennett placed 19th overall in the Under 16 Girls Division and along with Ariana Shewry (Tara), advanced through multiple rounds during their successful campaigns.
“I’m happy with my results as well as the event giving me more confidence for events back in New Zealand and a taste for the standard for overseas comps” said Bennett.
“It was so fun surfing as a team and gaining knowledge amongst the best in the world, it was really cool and it made me feel good when I came in from a win or loss to still get great support and encouragement from the New Zealand Team.”
Shewry finished the event in 22nd overall finishing fourth in her Repechage Round 5 heat. Both her and Bennett have the fortune of being eligible for the same division in 2019.
Christchurch surfer Estella Hungerford finished the event in 43rd overall.
Our surfers in the Under 16 Boys Division suffered a baptism of fire all being eliminated in the first round of the main event before bowing out early in the repechage rounds. Christchurch surfer Myka Black was the highest placed in 57th overall with Tom Robinson (Whangarei) and Kora Cooper (Rag) finishing in 65th overall.
The Japanese Surfing Team went on to win the event, a first for Japan to go alongside their win at the World Surfing Games earlier in the year. Japan beat USA, Australia and Hawaii who rounded out the top four.
The championship is the largest junior surfing event in the world playing host to over 350 surfers from 44 nations. 2018 marks the first year that all divisions are gender equal at the event with three surfers in each of the four divisions contested.
Results from the 2018 VISSLA ISA World Junior Surfing Championship held at Huntington Beach, California, USA from the 27th October – 4th November are as follows:
1 Japan 7503
2 USA 7371
3 Australia 5814
4 Hawaii 5798
5 France 4898
6 Spain 4471
7 Brazil 4380
8 South Africa 4310
9 Germany 4186
10 Portugal 4108
11 Peru 3923
12 New Zealand 3628
Under 18 Boys Division
Caleb Cutmore (Hamilton) – 13th
Conor McLennan (Christchurch) – 17th
Shane Kraus (Piha) – 49th
Under 18 Girls Division
Saffi Vette (Gisborne) – 16th
Tiana – Breeze de Mooij (Mount Maunganui) – 31st
Kea Smith (Mount Maunganui) – 49th
Under 16 Boys Division
Myka Black (Christchurch) – 57th
Kora Cooper (Raglan) – 65th
Tom Robinson (Whangarei) – 65th
Under 16 Girls Division
Brie Bennett (Raglan) – 19th
Ariana Shewry (Oakura) – 22nd
Estella Hungerford (Christchurch) – 43rd
College Sport Media is dedicated to telling the story of successful young sportspeople in New Zealand