- WSL / Laurent Masurel

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (Monday, February 3, 2020) - WSL is thrilled to announce that the two men's NZ wildcard spots for the upcoming Corona Piha Pro WSL Challenger Series event will go to Piha local Elliot Paerata-Reid (NZL) and Mount Maunganui's Kehu Butler is (NZL).

The pair will compete in their first-ever Challenger Series event which will see a field of over 100 of the world's best surfers descend on New Zealand all looking for precious rankings points and a chance to qualify for the 2021 Championship Tour.

"We're really happy to award two of New Zealand's most promising surfing talents wildcard spots into the Corona Piha Pro," said WSL Asia Pacific General Manager Andrew Stark. "This is a massive opportunity for both surfers and with a solid result here they could lock in a spot at other Challenger Series events throughout 2020. Breaking into the top 100 on the qualifying rankings is a serious challenge and opportunities like this are extremely rare so we're over the moon to give two Kiwi competitors this sort of leg-up"

Hailing from Piha, Elliot Paerata-Reid has the potential to wreak havoc on the international field as no other competitor will have the intimate knowledge of the shifting Piha peaks that he does. Having competed on the WSL Qualifying Series for over 5 years now, the Corona Piha Pro will no doubt be the biggest event of his surfing career.

"I'm over the moon to receive the wildcard into the Corona Piha Pro," Paerata-Ried said. "I was only a few spots off being in the entire Challenger Series in 2020 and was aware Piha would host an event this year and was hoping to compete at home so I'm very grateful and excited to be given this opportunity. Having some of the world's best surfers coming to Piha will be amazing for Kiwi surf fans and all of the local kids to watch. It's exciting for our little community and obviously great for me to be able to compete in my backyard. The local knowledge will play a part but everyone in this event is so good that they'll work it out pretty fast so I'll have to be at my best."

Eliott Paerata-Reid at the Siargao Cloud 9 Surfing Cup Eliott Paerata-Reid - WSL / Thomas Bennett

Fresh off a Round 4 finish at the recent Pro Taghazout Bay in Morocco, Kehu Butler is in career-best form and he hopes to bring that to the Corona Piha Pro this March. Butler's main aim for 2020 was to move into the top 100 and compete at every CS event for the season as he hopes to become New Zealand's next representative on the elite Championship Tour.

"I'm so happy to get the wildcard spot into the Corona Piha Pro," Butler said. "It means so much to me to be able to compete in such a massive WSL event at home in front of my friends and family. I'm stoked to have this opportunity and can't wait to see how it all plays out. I really hope to use this event to secure myself a spot at all of the major Challenger Series events for 2020."

The pair won't be the only Kiwi hopefuls competing with two more women and two more men to be gifted a spot through the Sky Sport NZ Trials to run the day before the main event. There will also be the likes of New Zealand surf stars such as Paige Hareb, Ricardo Christie, Billy Stairmand and Ella Williams competing, just to name a few.

The Corona Piha Pro Challenger Series event will run from March 16 through March 22, 2020. Please visit WorldSurfLeague.com or download the free WSL App for more information on these events and the newly announced WSL Challenger Series.

The Piha Pro is proudly supported by our partners at Corona, Sky Sport, Jeep, New Zealand Major Events, Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).

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