Kiwi teens headed to surfing world champs with Paris in mind

Source: 1News

Twelve teenagers will strap up and represent New Zealand at the World Junior Surfing Championships in El Salvador.

It's the first time the event, which hosts 250 athletes from more than 30 countries, has been able to go ahead due to Covid-19.

One Christchurch-based surfer, Jack Tyro, told 1News it means "so much" to be selected.

"A few years ago I never thought I'd ever be picked for New Zealand - I was a bit of kook!" said Jack.

Now, only 15, he holds three current national titles in under-16, under-18 and open men's surfing across long and short boarding.

Surfing New Zealand's chief executive, Ben Kennings, said there's a lot on the line for these aspiring pro-surfers, as the 2023 Olympic qualification will be held at the same venue in Surf City.

"Many of the young surfers heading to El Salvador will be in line and get a heads up on the conditions and the opportunity to qualify," he said.

The large squad heading overseas is the latest sign of growing interest in their sport, Surfing NZ says, with a particularly big uptake in youth getting involved.

Kennings believes the interest is largely due to surfing now being an Olympic sport, and the likes of Billy Stairmand and Ella Williams pathing the way for a new wave of talent with their debuts in Tokyo last year.

Billy Stairmand.

The surfing at the Paris 2024 Olympics will be held in Tahiti at Chopu, better known as "one of the deadliest waves in the world" according to surf pros.

For young Jack though, if the opportunity presents itself, he won't hesitate to go there.

"It's exciting for sure but I just love surfing more than anything, so we'll see what happens."

The New Zealand team depart on Saturday with competition starting May 27.