Kiwis battle hard, grab pair of thirds in Brazil
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 3 May, 2015 - New Zealand surfers Kehu Butler and Raiha Ensor, both of Mount Maunganui, have placed third in the international final of the Rip Curl GromSearch completed early this morning. The event was hosted at Maresias Beach, the home of current World Surf League Champion Gabriel Medina who was on site to cheer on the best young groms in the world.
Kehu Butler met Kei Kobaiashi (USA) in his semifinal. The lead exchanged multiple times with big numbers dropping for both surfers. Butler scored an 8.6 for one wave and looked set to win with two minutes remaining and Kobaiashi needing an 8.4 to win. With time running out Kobaiashi locked into a runner and ended his wave with an air reverse that gave him an 8.6 out of ten and progression into the finals leaving Butler in third overall.
Butler’s road to the final was a long one as he fell to the lightning fast surfing of Kobaiashi in round three and had to surf further reperchage rounds. He convincingly won those before heading into the semifinal. Raiha Ensor incurred a foot injury early in her trip which hampered her performances.
However, in a free flowing performance marked by big rail turns she earned her spot in the semifinals beating eventual girls champion Leilani McGonagall (Costa Rica). Unfortunately Ensor drew McGonagall again in the semifinal and although battling hard lost the heat and finished third overall.
The Kiwis battled hard throughout the event which was well and truly stolen by the impressive full rotational airs of eventual boys winner Samuel Pupo who scored multiple 9’s and two 10’s in the event. The high flying Kiwis will return home with their heads held high and a new hunger to compete at that international level.