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Surfers Vette, Braithwaite progress in Day 1 heats

GISBORNE surfers Finn Vette and Patrick Braithwaite made it through their Day 1 heats at the National Surfing Championships in two-metre swell at Piha Beach, Auckland, yesterday.

New Zealand's top male surfers put in some committed performances to advance through the early rounds.

The large West Coast swell hammered the line-up with light variable winds in the morning that turned to sea breeze in the afternoon as the swell abated.

Olympic hopeful Kehu Butler (Mt Maunganui) was in the opening heat of the event and pushed the limits on the way to a comfortable heat win despite buckling his board and having to return to shore to get a back-up surfboard midway through the heat. Butler posted a 12.5-point heat total to advance to the Round of 32.

Advancing alongside Butler was Waihi Beach surfer Levi Stewart, who was one of several top seeds to advance. Others included Josef Jungwirth (Raglan) and Luis Southerwood (Whakatane), who both looked in sharp form.

Surfers who advanced yesterday will meet up with the top seeds at the event on Day 2, with seven-time national champion Billy Stairmand (Rag) and others set to hit the water mid-morning immediately after New Zealand's top female surfers open the day's proceedings.

The junior divisions rounded out the day with Jungwirth again in dominant form, posting the single highest wave score of the day with an 8.25-point ride and 13.25-point total.

Gisborne's Finn Vette was close behind with an impressive 13.0-point heat total and win, advancing to the quarterfinals, which will be contested on Day 2.

In the u16 boys' division, Piha surfer Bill Byers made up for an early loss in the u18 division with a comprehensive heat win in the final heat of the day.

Navryn Malone made it two wins for the day in his heat and Mt Maunganui's Tao Mouldey advanced to the quarterfinals with the highest score of the round, an 11.5-point heat total.

On Day 2 the female divisions will start. The open women's division will get the day's action going, and will be followed by the second round of the open men's division, featuring the event's top seeds.

Action takes place from 8am to 4pm daily, with the primary venue being at the southern end of Piha Beach.

Results of heats that included surfers with Gisborne links —

Open men, Round of 48, Heat 3: Navryn Malone (Raglan) 9.45, 1; Jackson Peak (Auckland) 8.75, 2; Luke Rogers (Dunedin) 8.5, 3; Te Kauwhata Kauwhata (Whangarei) 5, 4.

Heat 4: Josef Jungwirth (Rag) 11.7, 1; Patrick Braithwaite (Gisborne) 6.75, 2; Reuben Lyons (Kaikoura) 3.95, 3; Corban Grainger (Taranaki) 1.5, 4.

Under-18 boys, Round 1, Heat 2: Navryn Malone (Rag) 9.2, 1; Max de Groot (Hawke's Bay) 8.85, 2; Connor Van Der Pol (Mt Maunganui) 3.7, 3; Robert Coutanche-Gould (Auck) 3, 4.

Heat 8: Finn Vette (Gis) 13, 1; Jack McKenzie (Christchurch) 7.7, 2; Luca Rendle (HB) 7.15, 3; Will Hardie (Piha) 7.1, 4.

U16 boys, Round of 26, Heat 1: Navryn Malone (Rag) 10.2, 1; Ben Milne (Whangamata) 7, 2; Will Hardie (Piha) 6.85, 3; Oliver Janes (Mangawhai) 2.4, 4.

Heat 3: Jack McKenzie (Chch) 9.75, 1; Tai Murphy (Whakatane) 6.95, 2; Karne Gabbott (Dun) 5.6, 3; Riku Gordon (Mahia) 5.1, 4.

ON THE CREST OF A WAVE: Kehu Butler, of Mt Maunganui, creates an arc of spray during a heat at the National Surfing Championships at Piha yesterday. Picture by Cory/NZ Surfing Magazine