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Kehu Butler lights up New Zealand National Champs

Kehu Butler © PhotoCPL.




Billabong National Surfing Champs
Presented by Subaru

Surfing New Zealand
Piha Beach, Auckland
11 - 17 January 2015

Early Rounds Of National Champs Spring Surprises At Piha

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 11 January, 2015 - A stunning Piha day greeted contestants for day one of the 2015 Billabong National Surfing Championships driven by Subaru today with the preliminary rounds of several divisions contested springing surprise results.

A mix of competitors, old and new, advanced in the 1.0m waves on offer at the south end of Piha Beach.  A return to the competitive arena for Daniel Kereopa (Raglan) saw him comfortably win through to the second round where the top seeds of the event will enter the water. 

Kereopa last contested the National Championships in 2009 when the event was held at Piha and he placed runner up to Matt Hewitt (Mnt). Six years later Kereopa is on course to meet Hewitt in the next few rounds should he progress but in the meantime he is confronted with top seeds Maz Quinn (Gis) and Elliot Paerata – Reid (Piha) in the next round of the event.   

As part of the old guard, Kereopa was joined by local surfer Liam Joyce also Marc Moore (Auck) and Richard Dowsett (Whangarei) who all claimed heat wins for the older generation of the competitors in Round 1 of the Open Men’s Division.

For the younger guys it was the flare of Kehu Butler (Mnt) that stood out from the entire field of surfers, Butler posting a 17.0 point heat total.  Fourteen year old Butler claimed his second win of the day in the Open Men’s Division after earlier winning his heat in the Under 18 Boys Division.

Butler will also enter the water on day two in the Under 16 Boys Division ensuring a busy week of surfing for the 14 year old surfer from Mount Maunganui.

Butler was joined by Coby Perkovich (Tara) competing in his first National Championships who secured a strong heat win.  The 21 year old surfer who is based in Australia completed several big forehand turns on his two scoring rides to post an 11.5 point heat total and progress alongside Manu Soctt – Arrieta (Sandy Bay).

Other surfers to win their first round match ups in the Open Men’s Division included Sean Peggs (Tai) and William Cooper (Mnt).

Late in the day the Under 16 and Under 14 Boys Divisions were contested with the youngest surfers in the event getting to hit the big stage at Piha. In the Under 14 Boys Division, many of the groms were competing for their first time at the event.  While they loved the experience and got to surf against the best surfers from around the country, it was the top seeds that dominated proceedings.  Gold Coast based Kiwi Kaya Horne had a blast in both the Under 16 and Under 14 Boys Divisions winning his heats with 16.0  and 13 point heat totals.

Horne was joined by Reuben Fleetwood (WGM), James Ririnui (Mnt), Caleb Cutmore (Ham) who all won their heats in the Under 16 Boys Division.

In the Under 14 Boys Division Horne was joined by Lucca Lind (Tara), Dylan Preston (WGM) and James Ririnui (Mnt) who all won their respective heats to move through to the semifinals.

The swell is forecast to build throughout day two of the event with light winds predicted.

The 2015 Billabong National Surfing Championships driven by Subaru runs from the 11th – 17th January.  It is the eleventh time the event has been held at Piha.  The event is hosted by Lion Rock Boardriders Club. The event schedule is set out below.  The days listed are the earliest possible start days for each division.

Monday 12th – Open Women, Under 18 Women, Under 16 Women, Senior Women plus day 1 divisions
Tuesday 13th – Open Longboard, Junior Longboard, Women’s Longboard, all SUP Surf divisions plus day 1 and 2 divisions
Wednesday 14th – Senior Men’s Divisions plus days 1, 2 and 3 divisions
Thursday 15th – All divisions
Friday 16th – All divisions plus Kneeboard
Saturday 17th - All divisions plus SUP Race

Ben Kennings

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