16-year-old Gisborne surfer Stella Smith has secured New Zealand’s first ever Stand Up Paddle Surfing medal, winning bronze in the 2018 ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship today (Monday 26th November).

The event is being held at Riyue Bay, Hainan Island, China with the finals contested in a fading 1.0m swell with offshore winds.

The Kiwi finished behind two-time defending champion Shakira Westdrop (AUS) and America’s Candice Appleby with a 10.50 point heat total compared with Westdrop’s 14.37 points out of a possible 20.

“Yeah I was stoked to make the final but was still gutted with my result and thought I could’ve done better” said the young surfer.

“The final itself was a lot slower than the other heats and I didn’t capitalise on the few sets when they came” she added of her finals performance.

The final came after Smith earlier advanced directly to the final alongside another teenager in Yuuka Horikoshi (JPN) who placed fourth in the final.

“To get the opportunity to surf against the best again was such a blessing and I’m so lucky.  The Kiwi Team this year is very strong and I’m excited to watch the racers compete from tomorrow onwards” said Smith.

Smith’s performance in the surfing was complemented by eleventh place finishes for Taranaki’s Jamie Andrews and Gisborne’s Sean Hovell in the Men’s Division and a 17th place finish for Christchurch surfer Lucy Te Moananui.

The four surfers have pushed New Zealand into fourth place overall from the 26 teams competing at the event.  Australia, Spain and USA currently occupy the top three placings.

Attention will now turn to the racing disciplines that get underway tomorrow starting with two days of 5km technical races through the waves at Riyue Bay before the distance races are held at Shenzhou Peninsula from November 30.

The New Zealand Team comprises eleven athletes and they are looking to defend their bronze medal they secured in 2017.  26 countries are represented at the event.

The remaining schedule for the event is as follows:

Riyue Bay
November 26 – SUP Surfing
November 27 – Technical Races
November 28 – Technical Races
November 29 – Lay day

Shenzhou Peninsula
November 30 – Sprint Races
December 1 – Distance Races
December 2 – Relay Races, Closing Ceremony

Please see below for the full team that are competing at the 2018 ISA World Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Championship being held at Riyue Bay, Hainan Island, China from the 24th November – 2nd December.

Jamie Andrews – SUP Surf Men’s
Sean Hovell (Gis) – SUP Surf Men’s
Stella Smith (Gis) – SUP Surf Women’s
Lucy Te Moananui (Kaikoura) – SUP Surf Women’s
Trevor Tunnington (AUS based) – Endurance, Technical, Sprint SUP Races
Oliver Houghton (Auck) – Endurance, Technical, Junior SUP Races
Tara Hope (Auck) – Endurance and Technical, Sprint SUP Races
Maddie McAsey (Auck) – Technical SUP Race Women’s
Charlotte Spicer (Singapore) – Endurance SUP Race Women’s
Danny Hart (Mnt) – Technical Prone Race Men’s
Devon Halligan (Mnt) – Technical Prone Race Women’s

Manager – Rosie Houghton (Auckland)
Assistant Manager – Gavin Houghton (Auckland)
Coach – Gary Smith (Gisborne)

Further Information
For further information on the New Zealand Stand Up Paddle and Paddleboard Team please contact Surfing New Zealand’s Ben Kennings on 021 2278732 or email benkennings@surfingnz.co.nz.

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