The New Zealand Home Loans Surf Festival is off to a fast start at Fitzroy Beach Taranaki with Round 1 of the North Beach World Surf League Junior Men's and Women's JQS1000 completed on the opening day.
Clean early waves with multiple peaks allowed plenty of scope for big scores from the talented field of emerging professional surfers.
Kai Hing (Sunshine Coast, QLD/AUS) posted an 8.00 and a 7.93 to take a convincing win in the first heat of the day. Hing went on to advance into Round 3 in 2nd place behind Harley Ross-Webster (Manly, NSW/AUS) in an exciting, high-scoring battle in Round 2 later in the day.
"The Australasian JQS is really enjoyable as we go from New South Wales to New Zealand to Tahiti which is a great test for us," Hing said. "There's a lot of good surfers in each event so whoever wins the series is going to be the best guy. I had a good first event, then a couple of bad results so I want to get back on track here in NZ."
Mihimana Braye (PYF) had an exciting back and forth battle with Mitch Parkinson (AUS), Shaun Manners (AUS) and Jeames Young (AUS) who finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th respectively. Braye escaped elimination, jumping from 3rd to 1st in the last minute after he tore apart a lefthander and was rewarded with the highest scoring wave of the heat.
"I went from second to first, then near the end I was in third so I'm really stoked to make the heat," Braye said. "I saw this left and put up two big turns and I was pretty sure it would be the score. There's many guys and girls from Tahiti here staying together and helping each other out."
Elliot Paerata-Reid (NZL) was at his powerful best as he easily won his opening round heat. His win was largely due to his strong first ride, which allowed him to control the heat from start to finish.
"I live in Piha but I've got family down here so it feels like a hometown event for me," Paerata-Reid said. "It's also great to do a WSL event in New Zealand and not have to get on a plane overseas. I managed to get a good score at the start but felt a bit shaky after that so hopefully I'll do even better in the next heat."
Round 1 Pro Junior Women's dealt with shifting wind conditions but all heats were fiercely contested on the higher tides.
Macy Callahan from Australia's Central Coast continued her strong form to win the opening heat of the round. At 14 years of age Macy's powerful and progressive style is that of the older Pro Junior and Open competitors.
Most of the Pro Juniors will surf the Women's QS6000 and, like USA's Frankie Harrer, are using the opportunity the familiarize their performance before Thursday's open event begins.
"It's nice to have a junior event before a QS, you get to know the conditions and get the nerves out of the system," Harrer said. "I don't think I surfed my best in that heat so hopefully I can do better in the next round, but it's nice to start an event with a heat win. I'm enjoying New Zealand, it's really pretty and nice to be somewhere a little different."