Local surfing was given a boost over the weekend with Taylor Hutchison winning the Under-20 Boys’ title in the Backdoor GromBash contest, and Billy Stairmand being announced to compete at the World Surfing Games for New Zealand.

The Backdoor GromBash at Raglan over the weekend attracted New Zealand’s top junior surfers who managed to outwit two surfers competing at international level – Whangamata’s Ella Williams and Piha’s Elliot Paerate-Reid.

But Raglan surfer Taylor Hutchison was too strong for his opponents at the GromBash at Manu Bay, taking out the prestigious Under-20 Boys’ title, following on from his Under-17 Boys’ title last year.

On Sunday Hutchison used his backhand attack to notch up a 16.2 point total, edging out Northland surfer Paul Moretti on 15.7. Mount Maunganui’s Kehu Butler placed third in the final after contesting seven heats throughout the day.

Paerata-Reid came a disappointing fourth in the finals. He has been competing on the World Surfing League (WSL) Australasian Pro Junior Series and currently sat in eighth place overall. If he made the top five he would qualify for the Pro Junior World Championship as part of the Australasian Team.

After placing third in the Under-20 final, Kehu Butler went on to win the Under-17 Boys’ Division of the GromBash, defeating Daniel Farr (Taranaki). Mount Maunganui’s Lee Ririnui was third, and Isaac Kettle from Taranaki came fourth.

Despite a three-hour halt to heats on Saturday due to bad conditions, a mammoth 48 heats were held during the two-day contest.

Muriwai surfer Britt Kindred claimed her first ever win at national level in the Under-20 Girls’ Division and was a stand-out surfer all weekend after claiming a perfect ten point ride in the semifinals.

Kindred defeated Ella Williams, who was taking a break from the WSL Qualifying Series to compete at her first domestic event of the year, with Elin Tawharu (Mnt) third and Tiana- Breeze de Mooij (Mnt) fourth.

De Mooij then won the Under-17 Girls’ Division, her first ever win at national level with a strong backhand attack, beating Britt Kindred in the final. Elin Tawharu was third and Milly Crewe (Taranaki) placed fourth in the final.

Local surfer Indica Ratima made it through two heats to come third in one of the semi-final Under-17 Girls’ heats.

The Under-14 divisions were won by Whangamata’s Dylan Preston (boys) and Gisborne’s Kai Woolf (girls). 

Raglan’s Kora Cooper made it through one round of heats for the Under-14 Boys’ Division, to be knocked during the semi-finals.

Surfing New Zealand, (SNZ) which ran the Backdoor Grombash, announced just before the contest the six members of the New Zealand Surfing Team to compete at the 2015 International Surfing Association World Surfing Games, which start at the end of next month.

The event at Popoyo, Nicaragua would attract up to 150 athletes from 30 countries, said Ben Kennings of SNZ.

The team would be led by four of New Zealand’s top surfers who were all currently competing on WSL Qualifying Series – Raglan’s Billy Stairmand, Mount Maunganui’s Matt Hewitt, Taranaki’s Paige Hareb and Ella Williams.

They would be joined by multiple New Zealand representative JC Susan (Dunedin) and former Junior Surfing Team representative Dune Kennings (Whangamata).

Stairmand would contest two major QS10,000 events in California and Brazil over the next six weeks before heading to Nicaragua.
Stairmand, along with Hewitt, last represented New Zealand at the World Surfing Games in 2013.

Both Hareb and Williams were currently competing on the Qualifying Series with the aim of securing a place on the World Tour for 2016, he said.

Hareb, who was currently ranked sixth, and 25th-ranked Williams would use the World Surfing Games as part of their build up towards their next major qualifying event in Mexico, the Los Cabos Open, which starts just after the World Surfing Games.

The New Zealand team was currently ranked tenth in the world but would be looking for significant improvement in Nicaragua. A top seven finish would see the team invited to the China Cup to compete against the world’s top surfing nations.

Rachel Benn