Kiwis vs the world at surfing games

Whangamata and QSL World Qualifying Series surfer Ella Williams is leading the New Zealand team at the International Surfing Association World Surfing Games being held in Tom Bennett/WSL

Surfers Ella Williams and Raiha Ensor will be in action this weekend when the New Zealand Surfing Team lines up against 45 countries at the World Surfing Games in France.

This year a record number of teams have entered the annual International Surfing Association games, with nations eyeing up the inclusion of surfing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Kicking off Saturday night (NZ Time), The World Surfing Games are taking place at Biarritz in the south of France until May 28.

This year the Kiwi team is being led by Whangamata and QSL World Qualifying Series surfer Ella Williams, 22, who has podiumed twice at the event in the past, with her best result coming in 2015 with a third place finish.

She will be joined by Mount Maunganui surfer Raiha Ensor in the Women's Division, who earlier this week was announced as one of four females in the NZ Junior Surfing Team set to compete in Japan at the World Junior Championships being held during September.

Together, Williams and Ensor will go up against the likes of World Tour surfer Johanne Defay (FRA), ex World Tour surfer Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) and 2016 World Surfing Games bronze medallist Pauline Ado (FRA).

The girls are joined by Dunedin's JC Susan, Muriwai's Paul Moretti, Raglan's Taylor Hutchison, and Piha's Zen Wallis in the Men's Division. Both Hutchison and Wallis were members of the 216 team.

In a change from traditional scheduling, the opening ceremony will take place on Saturday night (NZT) before the Women's Division gets underway on the same day.

The Women's Division will be completed on the first three days of the event to fit in with another international event scheduled in Japan. The Men's Division will commence on May 23.

New Zealand's ranking of eighth secures a berth in the Aloha Cup Tag Team event which includes the top eight nations at the event. New Zealand placed fourth in the 2016 Aloha Cup.

Peru is the defending champion at the event after winning the 2016 edition held in Costa Rica over Portugal, USA and France.

THE 2017 NEW ZEALAND SURFING TEAM:

Open Men

  •   •  JC Susan (Dun)

  •   •  Paul Moretti (Mur)

  •   •  Taylor Hutchison (Rag)

  •   •  Zen Wallis (Piha)

Open Women

  •   •  Ella Williams (WGM)

  •   •  Raiha Ensor (Mnt)



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The Sun going down over the water @ Sulphur Point. Photo: Casey Fredericks.

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