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Vette off to a great start

Gisborne surfer Saffi Vette started Day 2 of the National Surfing Championships by beating former Women's World Tour competitor Paige Hareb at Piha yesterday.

Vette said she was “stoked” to beat Hareb and “get under her skin a little bit”.

“It was quite tricky, but last night I went out on the exact same tide so I knew what it would be like today,” Vette said.

“That helped a lot, and I was able to get a good start and intimidate the other girls with my early lead.”

Her heat included a huge backhand turn on a solid section for a wave score of 6.4 in shifty, challenging conditions. She finished with a heat total of 12.7, with Hareb (Taranaki) second on 10.1.

Vette and her opponents now have four days preparing for the semifinals and finals.

Both Vette and Hareb are in the New Zealand Olympic training squad, along with Ella Williams (Whangamata) and defending champion Ava Henderson (Christchurch), who also advanced out of their heats today.

Fifteen-year-old Asia Braithwaite came close to progressing through her open women's heat against top opposition. She ripped her opening wave to get into a strong position. However, she couldn't quite complete her back-up wave late in the heat and fell just short.

She bounced back well to confidently progress through both her under-18 and u16 heats to set herself up for the semifinals of these divisions in the coming days.

Braithwaite found decent waves early in her heats and build a strong foundation to get through.

Finn Vette had a mixed day, falling in the second round of the open men's division, but bouncing back in the last heat of the day to progress to the u18 semifinals.

He found a strong six-point ride in the first half of the open heat, but the shifty conditions prevented him from finding a second wave to record the score to move through.

Late in the day, in the u18 quarterfinal, Vette worked his way into the lead midway through the heat with a 6.4-point ride and held on to progress into the semis in second place.

Patrick “Magoo” Braithwaite couldn't quite reproduce the magic of his Day 1 performance in his Round 2 heat in the open division. He surfed well and was sitting in second position until a late flurry of waves from the other competitors pushed him back in the dying moments of the heat.

As it turns out, he was saving himself for his primary divisions, the over-40s and 45s, later in the week.

Most of the Gisborne team have now arrived at Piha. The longboard, senior and under-14 divisions are due to kick off in coming days and the support on the beach has been huge for the surfers.

The surf is easing, and great conditions are forecast for today and tomorrow.

Big result: Saffi Vette smiles as she leaves the water after beating former Women's World Tour competitor Paige Hareb at the National Surfing Championships yesterday. Both surfers progress to the next round. Picture by Cory/NZ Surfing Magazine