New Zealand Junior Surfing Team End World Championships in Thirteenth

The New Zealand Junior Surfing Team has finished the 2022 World Junior Championships in El Salvador in thirteenth place overall after the final day of the event was completed on Monday 6 June.

Hawaii took out top honours with Australia in second, USA in third and France in fourth.

Mount Maunganui surfer Tao Mouldey was the highest ranked Kiwi surfer finishing seventeenth in the Under 16 Boys Division on the penultimate day of the event which was contested in solid 1.5m waves and moderate cross-shore winds.

In his first of up to four heats for the day, Mouldey was looking sharp early after surfing to the highest single wave score of 7.25 in the heat thanks to two big backhand turns on the El Sunzal podium – a shifty righthand point break.

Mouldey held second position for the majority of the 20-minute heat as he hunted down a wave to improve on his backup score of 2.5.  However, he couldn’t find that wave in the final minutes.  His Australian opponent Eden Hassan took a narrow win with the American surfer Cannon Carr sneaking a last scoring ride to advance.  Requiring a 4.35, the American surfed to a 4.65 on the final hooter to bump Mouldey into third place and elimination.

Joining Mouldey in the Under 16 Boys Division were Spencer Rowson (Tara) and Jack Tyro (Chch) who both finished the event in 33rd equal.  The Under 16 Boys Division was won by Australian Willis Droomer.

Leia Millar (Piha) was the top placing Kiwi female finishing 22nd in the Under 16 Girls Division.  Millar was joined by Pia Rogers (WGM) and Skylar McFetridge (Tara) who both finished 37th.  Canadian surfer Erin Brooks won the division helping Canada to ninth overall.

Finn Vette (Gis) and Kora Cooper (Rag) finished the event in 33rd equal as the top ranked boys in the Under 18 Division with Kalani Louis (Tara) finishing in 81st.  The Hawaiian Team made it a one-two in the division with Luke Swanson winning and Shion Crawford finishing in second.

Ava Henderson (Chch) and Liv Haysom (Piha) finished 49th in the Under 18 Girls Division with Natasha Gouldsbury (Tara) finishing in 61st.  The Hawaiian’s claimed their second title of the event with Eweleilua Wong taking the title. 

Kora Cooper was close in his last heat of the competition but a slow start had him on the back foot from the outset.

“The other competitors in my heat got waves straight away and I had to wait about six minutes for my first one. I fell on the last turn then didn’t find a wave right until the end which wasn’t the score, the heat was close however, and I can learn from my mistakes for the next one,” said Cooper.

Both Cooper and Vette had spent much of the event competing at the La Bocana podium and the change to the El Sunzal podium had implications.  

“The two venues are totally different.  From a punchy left to a point with a slow right made it hard to transition,” said Cooper.  “However, there were some that peeled around the point nicely and those were the waves to have high potential scores on. Unfortunately. I couldn’t find one of those gems” added Cooper.

“The support the team gives out is amazing. From getting up early to watch teammates heats, the team chant before and after our heats, and cheering from the beach, really motivates all of us to paddle hard, not give up and keep fighting.  Also talking to Khan and Matt (coaches) before heats always puts us in a good mindset and hopefully this works for Tao,” said Cooper after his heat.