The Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship saw one of its most intense days at Playas de la FAE. The swell continued to hold up throughout the day, delivering solid overhead surf. This afternoon the Under 18 Boys returned to the competition after a lay day yesterday. Having a little extra rest and fresh legs, these future world champions turned out amazing performances in the five to six foot surf at la FAE in Salinas, Ecuador.
With their sights set on the gold medal and the prestigious ISA World Junior title, the competition was intense as 12 of the world's best Under 18 surfers fought to stay in the main rounds of competition. Each of the four heats could have been a final match in any other junior division contest. Nine countries were represented, including past ISA World Juniors Champions Australia, Brazil and Hawaii and 2009 contenders France, South Africa, New Zealand, USA, Chile and Costa Rica.
Heat two was intense with 2007 Under 16 gold medalist Garrett Parkes of Australia up against South Africans Shaun Joubert and Matthew Bromley along with New Zealander Alex Dive. With less than five minutes in the heat, Parkes was sitting in third place and was not able to put together a decent score because he was riding a damaged board. He decided to trade out his equipment. One of the Aussie teammates ran Parkes' backup board 300 meters up the beach, leaving Parkes with less than half the heat to get an 8.5 to advance. With only minutes remaining Parkes caught a wave and gave it everything he had, but came up just short, scoring an 8.0. Joubert and Dive advanced, relegating Parkes and Bromley to the repecharges.
In heat three of Boys Under 18 French surfer Maxime Huscenot, Brazilian Miguel Pupo, New Zealander Matt Hewitt and Costa Rican Carlos Munoz met for a grueling 20 minute bout. Within the opening minutes, Pupo and Huscenot took the lead. Huscenot grabbed the top spot with his second wave earning an 8.60 and then closed out the heat with an 8.73 for the win. Pupo placed second to advance and Hewitt and Munoz finished third and fourth respectively.
"You really had to believe and choose only the good set waves today. The paddle back out is almost five minutes long. Having patience is almost as difficult as the surfing," said Huscenot after his win. "This is my third ISA juniors event. We have a really good team this year and we are having a great time in Ecuador."
Contest organizers ran four rounds of elimination repecharge heats with 88 surfers exiting the competition today. It was a difficult day for Germany and Ireland with both teams' last remaining surfers losing their heats. Made up of 10 surfers, Germany had their largest team to date in an ISA competition. They will stay in Ecuador through the finals but will likely take advantage of the free time to check out the local sight, sounds and waves of the Salinas area.
Portuguese surfers Francisca Souza and Ana Sarmento kept their team in the Under 18 Girls as both of them made it through two rounds of repecharges today. USA surfer Kaleigh Gilchrist not only made it through both of her "do-or-die" elimination heats, but also earned the highest combined score of the competition for the Under 18 Girls with a 17.66.
Gilchrist's wins helped lift the spirits of the USA team which had three difficult losses today. Standout Under 16 Boys surfer Evan Geiselman went down in his second repercharge heat against Peruvian Miguel Tudela, Frenchman Pierre Rollet and Venezuelan Felix Vargas. USA surfer Chase Wilson lost his heat in the Under 18 repercharges. Despite an injured ankle, Wilson was able to put two scores together but neither was big enough to advance. Fisher Heverly of the USA also lost his heat to Tahitian Haunui Aumeran and lone Nicaraguan Rex Caulderon. With three surfers exiting the competition today, the USA will have a challenging road ahead if they hope to be standing on the podium come Sunday.
Local Ecuadorians Johnatan Zambrano and Fabio Dapelo continued to charge through the repercharges today making for an exciting celebration on the sand at the southend competition area. Johnatan's heart touching story will be included in FUEL TV's half hour special on the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship which will air this summer on FUEL TV.
Competitors will be back tomorrow for nine rounds of repercharges and the Under 16 Boys round four. The swell is expected to continue to hold through the weekend for the finals. Competition will resume tomorrow at 8:00am at Playa de las FAE beach in Salinas, Ecuador.
For more information on the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship, LIVE web, free photos and on-demand video highlights, visit www.quiksilver.com/isa.