The battle is on for the big bucks in Bali, Indonesia with 18 of the planet’s top junior surfers going toe-to-toe in the opening round of the world’s richest-ever pro junior tournament at the high performance wave of Keramas today.
After two lay days, the $75,000 Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Championships kicked off with the official “blessing of the waters” ceremony commencing proceedings before surfing action begun with the six non-elimination Round One heats being completed.
Hawaiian wildcard Dusty Payne (Maui, HI) set the benchmark in the opening heat of the day, shredding the epic five to six and a half foot right-hand reef break waves to beat Brazil’s Miguel Popo and Japan’s Kaito Ohashi.
“I couldn’t have asked for a sicker event,” said Payne. “It’s a great wave and there’s plenty of money up for grabs, so I’m stoked to be here as the wildcard.”
Payne, who has only competed in two events so far this year after suffering a major knee injury before the start of the World Junior Championships at Narrabeen, Australia in January, took no notice of his prior injury, taking to the skies with some committed aerial moves to finish with a 16.50 two-wave combined total (out of a possible 20).
Payne, 19, led from siren-to-siren, netting an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10) on his first wave to setup a commanding lead. The talented natural footer inflicted further pain on his foes, jagging a set wave before unleashing multiple forehand moves to seal the win with an even better 8.50.
“I was trying to feel out my board,” he said. “I hadn’t ridden it in a few months, so it was great to get a few waves under my belt.”
Payne now moves directly through to Round Three along with runner-up Pupo, while Ohashi will fight it out in sudden-death Round Two elimination which starts tomorrow.
South African sensation Shaun Joubert (Mossel Bay) continued to up the ante, posting both the day’s highest individual wave score and combined heat total en route to defeating New Zealander Billy Stairmand and Brazil’s Franklin Serpa.
“It was really fun out there,” said Joubert. “There were a few barrels and I probably got the best two waves in the heat, so I’m stoked.”
The 19-year-old was all class in the barreling right-handers, weaving through the eye of two reeling tubes to snare a pair of near-perfect 9’s (9.5 & 9.43). After the heat, Joubert said he was pleased to be in Bali.
“It’s almost an achievement just being here,” he said. “It’s such a big contest with so many great surfers, so it’s almost overwhelming. I’m stoked to be in the mix.”
Joubert finished in first position with 18.93-points, almost eight points clear of Stairmand at 11.9, with Serpa in third on 11.37.
Other big Round One winners today included Reunion Island’s Romain Cloitre, France’s Marc Lacomare (Hossegor), Brazil’s Peterson Crisanto, and South Africa’s Nick Godfrey.
Competition is expected to continue tomorrow morning with sudden-death Round Two heats to be completed. Oakley International has held six qualifying events in Australia, Brazil, France, Japan, South Africa and the United States, culminating in the grand finale in Bali. The Global Challenge Championship will be staged over four days of competition within a 10-day waiting period from October 7-17 in the high-performance waves of Keramas in Bali, Indonesia.