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Strong start for locals in NZ Surfing Nationals

Gisborne surfers have made a strong start on day one of the New Zealand Surfing Nationals, hosted near Westport.

Asia Braithwaite won her first heat of the open women's division, but in the process, she eliminated Stella Smith in the same heat.

In the under-16 boys' division Riku Gordon, from Mahia, made it through his round with a strong barrel ride to advance to round two, while Hunter Lynch found the waves he needed to advance.

Surfers were met with a solid 1.5m swell with the occasional bigger wave and strengthening southwest winds. A rise in swell overnight proved a challenge for many participants as some struggled with the coast's “wild west” conditions.

With this year's competition being hosted so far away, a significant number of high-performing local surfers will not be competing.

Defending women's champion Saffi Vette will not defend her title, having already travelled to Australia to prepare for a season of high-performance competitions.

Neither last year's longboard champion Raniera Procter, nor 38-time national champion John Gisby will compete.

The swell is expected to ease overnight and conditions will see surfers back at Tauranga Bay, which offers more protection from the weather rolling through.

Local surfers in action today include Braithwaite in the morning in the U18 division, followed by her father Magoo (Patrick) before Sean Hovell takes to the water in both the SUP and Bodyboard divisions.