The Australian surfing team has won the most prestigious tournament on the planet for surfers under the age of 18, the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship, for the third consecutive time. This historic deed was achieved in the perfect waves of Le Penon beach. They provided the best conditions of the entire event, with large and perfect four to six foot faces.
Today four rounds of the repercharge and one of the main event in each division were held to determine surfers for the grand finals. The gold in the Under 18 Boys was won by the Brazilian, Alejo Muniz, in the Under 16 Boys by Tamaroa McComb of Tahiti, and in the Girls', by Laura Enever of Australia, all of whom were crowned ISA World Junior Champions.
In the 2006 Quiksilver ISA Junior event in Brazil, Alejo Muniz, competing at home in the Under 16 division, was defeated by Owen Wright. Today Alejo he did not disappoint in the final, in which he faced his 2006 rival, as well as Hawaiian, Tyler Newton, and French local surfer, Marc Lacomare.
Muniz started the heat with a low scoring 3.2, while Wright notched up an 8.5 on a left that was packed with manoeuvres. The Brazilian then responded to this with a 9.2 and took the lead. However, the Australian did not give up and caught a peeling right, which he capitalized on to score a 7.14. Meanwhile, the two other surfers in the final could not quite enter the fray.
Halfway through the heat, the Brazilian caught a good right, on which he pulled off two huge cutbacks, a powerful off-the-lip and then continued working it to the shore to score an 8.18, giving him a total of 17.38 and leaving Wright needing an 8.89. He almost achieved this when, with 8 minutes remaining, he caught another left on which he scored a 7.78.
The ocean did not deliver many more good waves after that and when the final horn sounded, the Brazilian was on top, and became the new ISA World Champion. The crowd of Brazilian supporters on the shoreline erupted with cheers and applause and ran to Alejo when he reached the shore.
Overpowered with joy, carried on his shoulder by his Team Manager Ottoney Xavier, Muniz, who was born in Argentina and naturalized Brazilian in 2006, exclaimed: "I am really happy. I cannot believe it. I fought hard for my place in the team. It was my last year as a Junior and I won, I can't believe it!"
He commented further, that "It was a really difficult heat against three really strong surfers. I had already lost to Owen twice in the competition and two years ago in the final in Brazil, so today it was my time to get back…"
From Runner-up to Champion
Tahitian Tamaroa McComb, had a year to prepare and to wait to reach the pinnacle of world Junior surfing. Having placed second in the contest last year in Portugal, he began this year's competition as a firm favourite contender, reaching the final after having scored some of the highest scores of the event.
However, an obstacle blocked his path along the way, Brazilian Peterson Crisanto, who defeated him twice in successive heats on the way to the grand final. Nevertheless the Tahitian picked up his top form in the final heat, and won in a somewhat tight final.
Tamaroa began with an 8.10 that slotted him into first place. Peterson scored a lesser 6.20. A few minutes later, the Tahitian scored a near-perfect 9.10 after having executed a huge off-the-lip, followed by five big manoeuvres that took him all the way to the beach. Not to be defeated, the Brazilian then scored a high but insufficient 7.54, which left him searching for a very difficult 9.66.
Crisanto very nearly got the score when he pulled off two stylish roundhouse cutbacks, a tailslide 360 and two off-the-lips onto the sand, which gave the Brazilian a 9.62, just 0.04 below what he required. With this score, he needed precisely 7.92, which he never quite found, and then the Tahitian began to really make his mark.
The Tahitian fans screamed in celebration and a very calm McComb commented, "I can't really explain how I feel. I am so happy, I am the World Champion, and it feels good!' With regards to his tactics he said, "I just went out there and tried to catch my two waves quickly and stay close to Crisanto."
Hawaiian Matty Costa finished third place and Ian Fontaine from France in fourth.
The Girls brought victory to Australia
The last final of the day included Australians Laura Enever and Tyler Wright, New Zealander Airini Mason and American Courtney Conlogue.
Three countries were still in contention to win the Team Gold medal: Australia, Brazil and the USA. The result was depending on the girls final outcome.
Enever and Wright fiercely battled in the heat, not letting the other girls ever got close enough. Enever scored 13.76 and Wright 13.56, leaving Conlogue third and Mason fourth.
Clearly delighted, the very personable Enever said, "I am so happy! Having finished second last year, I wanted to come here and better my result and to have done it is a dream come true!" On her strategy for the grand final, Enever commented, "I simply concentrated on looking for the best waves as I knew the other surfers were excellent. Luckily those waves came to me and things went well."
Completing the sixth edition of the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship, Australia now have their fourth and third back to back World Junior Title, confirming their domination of junior surfing.
The ISA Makes History
Once again the International Surfing Association used an eight judge pannel. It was first used for the first time in history in the 2007 Quiksilver ISA World Junior in Portugal. The average score from this eight judges clearly produces a better average score than using the traditional five judge pannel. It will be used also when surfing is included in the Olympic and similar Games.
Medal and Closing Ceremony
Once the competition was over, the medal ceremony took place, with the playing of the national anthems of the gold medalists countries.
The President of the ISA, Fernando Aguerre, spoke about the championships and his hopes for Ecuador in 2009.
"What a great week! One hour before the Opening Ceremony, it was raining very hard, but just before we began it, the sun came out. Today we had rain all morning, but just before the Medal Ceremony, the sun came out. The karma of the ISA is very good…" said the President.
He added, "Surfing is so alive and full of energy. The day after tomorrow, during Sports Accord and International Olympic Committee meeting in Athens, I will continue on my campaign to get surfing into the Olympic Games. It is only a matter of time. The next ISA World Juniors will be in March, 2009 in Ecuador, but first we will convene for the ISA World Surfing Games in Portugal in October of this year."
World Junior Champions
Results Boys Under 18
Gold: Alejo Muniz (BRA)
Silver: Owen Wright (AUS)
Bronze: Tyler Newton (HAW)
Copper: Marc Lacomare (FRA)
Results Girls' Under 18
Gold: Laura Enever (AUS)
Silver: Tyler Wright (AUS)
Bronze: Courtney Conlogue (USA)
Copper: Airini Mason (NZ)
Results Boys Under 16
Gold: Tamaroa McComb (TAH)
Silver: Peterson Crisanto (BRA)
Bronze: Matty Costa (HAW)
Copper: Ian Fontaine (FRA)