A powerful 6-8 foot south swell slammed into la FAE beach today making for challenging conditions for surfers at the 2009 Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships. Amazing performances were turned in by the world’s best young surfers as they bravely fought through treacherous currents and clean up sets.
"We had some high scores today but for most of the competitors, it was really difficult," said Contest Announcer Gary Linden. "La FAE is one of the most consistent waves in Ecuador because it is the most exposed. When it gets big, it is often too big. In most contests, you are always hoping the swell will come up but in this one we are hoping it backs down some. Tomorrow and through the weekend will be really good as the swell fades and these kids are able to show more performance surfing."
Under 16 Boys teammates Carlos Muoz and Jordan Hernandez found the right waves in their heats and showed the world today that Costa Rica is home to a stable of exciting junior surfers. The team’s star, Carlos Muoz, is surfing in both Under 18 and Under 16 division. He could potentially surf an exhausting 20 heats this week.
The competition has gotten much tighter as the event continues on to the later rounds. Heat three of the Boys Under 16 was stacked with the future of surfing’s powerhouses as South Africans David Brand and Mikey February faced USA’s Kolohe Andino and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau. In the end Brand took the win, followed by Andino for second, and February and Lau in third and fourth, falling to the repercharge rounds.
The standout of the day for the Under 16 Boys was Hawaii’s Keanu Asing. His experience in bigger waves proved to be advantageous in today’s conditions. Taking off on a solid 8 foot wave, Asing put together a combination of beautiful backhand turns, connecting to the inside and finishing off with a few more solid hacks in the shorebreak.
The French team currently leads the Under 18 Girls division with all four surfers still in the main rounds. Teammates Canelle Bulard and Justine Dupont ended up in the same heat today, but were able to both advance, taking first and second over Peruvian Nadja de Col and New Zealand surfer Rosa Thompson. French surfers Johanne Defay and Marie Dejean also made it through their heats to advance on to round four.
In heat three with the swell peaking, only eight waves were surfed between the four competitors. South African Bianca Buitendag and Australian Laura Enever were able to put together two scores a piece to finish in the one and two spots. Team USA surfer Lakey Peterson caught only one wave in the entire 20 minute heat. Peterson finished third and Hawaiian Nage Melamed finished fourth falling to the repercharge rounds.
Team USA surfer and former ISA World Junior medalist Courtney Conlogue placed second in her heat and will be the only USA Under 18 Girls surfer to continue on to round four of the main event. Teammates Peterson, Lani Doherty and Kaleigh Gilchrist will compete in the repercharge rounds starting tomorrow.
It was a difficult day for surfers in the repercharge heats at the secondary contest site with the increased swell combining with an onshore wind and bottoming tide. Organizers held only two rounds before postponing the Girls Under 18 repercharge heats until tomorrow when the swell is expected to decrease slightly.
Two of the leading teams, France and Hawaii, each saw one surfer from each team exiting the competition today, Dimitri Ouvre and Kyle Galtes bid farewell to the contest. Local Ecuadorian Fabio Dapelo kept his medal hopes alive taking the win in repercharge heat two over Hawaiian Tanner Hendrickson who finished second. Kai Ojima from Japan won his heat while teammate Taiki Kurokoshi finished second later in the round. Barbados surfer Lewis St. John kept his team in the running for the Under 18 Boys division, winning his heat over Tahitian Teiki Charles, Japan’s Kaishu Tanaka and Chilean Tomas Villegas.
In the Boys Under 16 repercharge heats at Podium 1, Jamaica and Ecuador had exciting wins. The two teams had surfers in the same heat back-to-back and both teams advanced to the next round. The reaction on the beach to their wins was electric as surfing is new to these nations and their surfers are having their most successful ISA juniors event to date.
Competition will resume tomorrow at 8:00am at la FAE beach in Salinas, Ecuador with round four of Under 18 Boys and Under 18 Girls, along with repercharge rounds for all three divisions.