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NEW Zealand's best waveski surfers are in Gisborne this weekend for the annual New Zealand Open Waveski Surfing Titles.

A waveski is a kayak designed to be ridden like a surfboard, with competitors doing cutbacks and aerial manoeuvres.

The competition's scoring system is identical to surfing, with points awarded on a 10-point scale and the top two waves tallied to create a heat score.

Organiser and two-time world titleholder Steve Gibbs said they expect approximately 20 contestants for the event, which runs across Saturday and Sunday.

Usually the competition attracts international talent from around the world, but this year the field will be primarily New Zealanders, he said.

An exciting development is the emergence of a “strong contingent” of expat South African wave ski surfers, who Gibbs said had a “particular surfing style that is different from other nationalities”.

South Africa has a history of producing some of the best waveski surfers in the world but in modern times the sport has been dominated by Brazilians and the French, he said.

This year, three former New Zealand titleholders will be in the water vying for another trophy for the cabinet, including Dave Mitchell, who has also won a world title.

OFF THE TOP: Justin Parry will be among a high-quality field battling it out at the New Zealand Open Waveski Surfing Titles in Gisborne over the holiday weekend. Picture by Paul Rickard