Kehu Butler’s world ranking took a dramatic rise at the 2014 Vissla ISA World Junior Surfing Championship held in Ecuador over the last fortnight.
The 14-year-old Arataki surfer was the best performed New Zealander finishing in 7th place in the under-16 division after a 31st place last year.
Butler arrived back from his overseas odyssey last Thursday with his father Kahn, who was New Zealand team manager, and Mount Maunganui team members Jordan Griffin, Jonas Tawharu, Elin Tawharu and Kea Smith.
Kehu cites training harder, getting more time in the water, and experience learnt at last year’s event as key factors in why he did so well in Ecuador.
“Another key was the time I spent with S.P.E.E. training, getting fit enough and geared up for the competition so you can improve. The fact that I had been there before really helped me because I understood the level of surfing over there for the division.”
What do you think about SPEE?
I love it! Its hard work but that’s what you need to do to succeed
“But it was really difficult in Ecuador because changing tides were really effective in the left handed point and the beach break. I want to thank my family, Reece at S.P.E.E. training, the KumiKumi Trust who helped fund us over there, and all my sponsors.”
Kehu knows what he needs to do to make another step up to make the podium at next year’s worlds.
“To beat them next time I need to be level headed and to train more and really get explosive with my surfing. Definitely getting stronger is the key thing ‘cause you have to have all the power and that mobility in your surfing.”
Next up for Kehu is a Rip Curl pro-junior in Taranaki this weekend but he says catching up on all the school work he has missed at Mount Maunganui College is going to be hard.
His father Kahn managed the New Zealand team in Ecuador that finished 10th overall.
“There were a lot of emotion going through my mind when your own boy is surfing but when you are there as manager as well, you have to put that to one side and do the same for every kid that was there,” Kahn said.
“I couldn’t help myself when he won all three heats on the one day – that was just amazing.
“All the kids from Mount College did amazing and we were so stoked. They had not been before and they are very young. So it is a bright future for those kids as well.”
NAME KEHU BUTLER
D.O.B 28th March 2001
Likes Surfing, Touch & Family time
Dislikes Flat surf
When did you start surfing? 6yrs old
What NZ surfing titles do you hold? U14 & U16
Your Ultimate Dream? To become a professional Surfer!
Why SPEE? I wanted to work on my overall strength & core