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Kehu Butler Second At Tweed Coast Pro

Kehu Butler finishes second at the Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro held at Cabarita and rockets to 13th in rankings.

Finalists Te Kehukehu Butler, Jordan Lawler, Coco Cairns and Sarah Baum at the Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro for 2023, held at Cabarita, NSW. Photo: Cait Miers/WSL

Jordy Lawler and Sarah Baum have kicked off their 2023 competitive season perfectly with wins at the Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro World Surf League QS 5000 with Kehu giving Jordy a run right to the end of their final.

Cabarita Head turned on pristine conditions for finals day with waves in the two-to-three foot range.

The Men’s Final was a ding-dong battle between two of the most impressive surfers of the week, eventual winner Jordy and Kehu. The 30-minute match-up saw fireworks from the get-go, with the competitors trading set wave for set wave and significant scores coming from every ride. There wasn’t much to separate the competitors until Lawler found a short left with a big ramp and took to the air, riding out of a super fast full-rotation air-reverse to post a 9.07 – the equal highest single ride of the entire event.

Kehu Butler was a standout at the Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro. Photo: Cait Miers/WSL

Kehu answered on a flowing right with a whipping top turn into an air reverse of his own. Commentators thought he had the score he needed but the judges didn’t agree and sealed Kehu’s runner-up spot.

Jordy’s two-wave total of 15.74 gave the North Narabeen surfer the edge and his first major victory since 2019.

“I don’t know what feels better right now, the points or the winning feeling,”  Jordy said afterward. “It’s been a few years since getting a win like that, so I just had to sit out there for a moment and take it all in.”

“I forgot what this feeling was like, and I’ve got a lot of friends down here and my brother, so this feels really special.”

“It was awesome to share the final with Kehu,” Jordy added. “He’s like a brother to me, so it was good to be out there with him. I’m keen to get on a bit of a roll over these next few events and get back onto the Challenger Series in 2023.”

In his post event wrap Kehu was quick to acknowledge the hardships facing the many communities back home in New Zealand following the severity of Cyclone Gabrielle, which made landfall in the lead up to the Tweed Coast Pro. The cyclone also impacted his family in the Bay of Plenty and the entire East Coast of the North Island.

“Sending all my aroha to all the Kiwis back home going through these tough times,” he said.

Billy Stairmand and Korbin Hutchings both exited in the Round of 16 with Korbin 9th and Billy in 13th.

This result catapults Kehu into 13th on the Australia/Oceania rankings. Billy’s 13th place boosted him to 5th in the rankings. The Top 7 will make the Challenger Series plus one wildcard. Kehu will be chasing another quarter or semi final finish in a QS 3000 or higher event to make the cut.

Lineup at the Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro for finals day. Photo: Cait Miers/WSL
After the most recent Gold Coast Open QS1000 here are the Kiwi Men’s Australia/Oceania rankings:
5th Billy Stairmand … 6490 points
13th Te Kehukehu Butler … 5045 points
30th Daniel Farr … 2120 points
36th Korbin Hutchings … 1791 points
61st Ricardo Christie … 950 points
66th Elliot Paerata-Reid … 835 points

Our highest performing female was Paige Hareb who finished 9th at the Tweed Coast Pro, exiting in the Round of 16 alongside Saffi Vette in 13th. Tayla Green finished in 25th place after her Round of 32 exit.

The result extends Paige’s lead in the Australia/Oceania rankings and brings Saffi into the Top 20.

After the most recent Gold Coast Open QS1000 here are the Kiwi Women’s Australia/Oceania rankings:
1st Paige Hareb … 10,797 points
20th Saffi Vette … 3380 points
48th Tayla Green … 786 points
87th Tiana-Breeze De Mooij … 63 points

The Australian Leg of the QS for 2023
February 10-16: Oakberry Tweed Coast Pro • QS5000 • COMPLETE
February 17-19: Gold Coast Open • QS1000 • COMPLETE
February 21-24: Camplify Great Lakes Pro • QS3000 • LIVE
February 27-March 1: Port Stephens Pro • QS1000 • COMING UP
March 3-5: Mad Mex Maroubra Pro • QS1000 • COMING UP
March 13-18: Central Coast Pro • QS3000 • COMING UP
March 20-26: Newcastle Pro • QS5000 • COMING UP
March 13-18: Central Coast Pro • QS3000 • COMING UP
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