World longboard champ Jensen to surf in NZ

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 11:26 02/02/2012

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World longboard surfing champion Taylor Jensen will contest the national tour event at Northland's Sandy Bay this weekend.

The American star collected his first world title last year and will open his 2012 campaign in New Zealand, starting tomorrow.

A solid swell is set to greet competitors at the third stop of the national tour.

It's a crucial event for Kiwis doubling as the first event of the Australasian ASP longboard qualifying series.

Jensen confirmed his entry late last week and will travel from California to contest the one-star rated event.

"I just love being in New Zealand and seeing all my friends down there and being able to compete in the tour here and there. Its one of the best run events in the world and it's always a pleasure to head over for it" Jensen said.

Jensen has the ASP banquet to attend and receive his world title trophy at the end of the month in Queensland so figured a detour through New Zealand would work well with his travel plans.

He will only be in the country for a five day whirl wind stop taking in the Sandy Bay event before travelling back to his second home of Australia where he has not been in the last three months.

"Not that much has changed really" Jensen said of his new world champion status.

"I'm a lot busier now. I have a few more commitments than usual but other than that, things are still very much the same. I've managed to secure a few new sponsors so that's been a huge bonus."

The Sandy Bay event is the first of three on the ASP Australasian LQS with two events remaining at Kingscliff, New South Wales and Perth, Western Australia. The top two surfers on the ASP Australasian LQS gain automatic qualification to compete on the ASP World Longboard Tour.

Auckland surfer Thomas Kibblewhite has won the first two stops on the New Zealand tour, including the national championships at Piha two weeks ago.

Kibblewhite will spearhead the New Zealand attack which will include 2010 tour winner Dylan Barnfield (Ohope) and New Zealand representative Matt Cockayne (Auckland ).

This weekend's event will include a Trans Tasman Challenge between Australia and New Zealand where a team of five surfers from each country will compete in a tag team format event.

The women's division will see the biggest field of surfers yet take to the water with Alexis Poulter (Raglan) going into the event as the number one seed. She will have a good challenge with new National Champion Anna Jolly (Piha) and winner of the first event Mischa Davis (Piha).

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