FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif., Feb. 10, 2009 – The 2009 Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge kicked off with the first of six qualifiers last week at North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia. The series has returned in 2009 for the second consecutive year and will make stops in Australia, U.S.A., South Africa, Brazil, Japan and France before culminating at the prestigious Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Finals in Bali, Indonesia, October 7-17. The series offers a total prize purse of $165,000 with $75,000 on the line at the final event and $20,000 for first-place, the biggest first-place prize check in junior surfing. The finals will take place throughout Bali during a 10-day waiting period to ensure best possible conditions.
"Last year was all about creating a buzz around the series," says Ronny Nelson, Oakley Surf Marketing Manager. "We blew expectations out of the water and there's no doubt the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge is the most talked about junior surf series in the world. We've selected the best waves, kept the numbers small, the waiting periods long and created a unique finals event every junior is frothing to qualify for. We set out with an ambitious goal to improve junior surfing in America, and in turn, we're stepping up junior surfing around the globe."
The first of the six qualifiers in Australia last week saw Owen Wright (AUS) and Jadson Andre (BRA) earn first and second, respectively, to qualify for the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Final in Bali.
The top two finishers at each of the remaining qualifying events will also automatically earn a spot into the event. Six additional juniors, one of which will be determined during a local trial event in Bali, will be issued wildcards to round out a field of 18 and ensure the talent at the final event is representative of the best juniors from around the world.
"I've seen the footage of last year's Challenge and it looked unreal," said Wright after qualifying. "It's really sunk in that I'm going. That event is where it's at. I just dug deep and did it."
The next qualifying event will be the Association of Surfing Professionals Grade-2 Oakley Pro Junior at Lower Trestles, California in conjunction with the 6.0 Lowers Pro. The event, the only U.S. qualifier, will take place April 28 through May 2. Running concurrently, the South Africa qualifier will take place May 1-3 at Port Alfred, South Africa.
Last year's Global Challenge champion, Dusty Payne (HAW) earned his wildcard qualification into the final event after a third-place finish at Trestles. Payne is testament to the fact that not only first and second place finishers can qualify, but a strong third place at a juniors event or even a solid World Qualifying Series (WQS) finish could garner a wildcard into the event.
"It's the best contest I've ever surfed in," said Payne, after winning the Global Challenge in Bali last year. "It's been my dream to surf a contest at Keramas. The waves were just so good. I'm so stoked with how it turned out."
The Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge is a unique specialty series launched by Oakley in 2008 to give young surfers the opportunity to compete at some of the best surfing locales around the world. After a hugely successful inaugural year, the series has stirred up a lot of buzz, and qualifying for the premier event has become a goal for many of the world's top juniors.
Dates Location Grade Prize Purse
Feb. 3-7 North Stradbroke Island, Qld – Australia 5M $25,000
April 28 – May 2 Lower Trestles, Calif. – USA 2M $10,000
May 1-3 Port Alfred, ECP – South Africa 2M/1W $12,500
May 19-24 Balneario de Camboriu – Brazil TBD* $27,500
Aug. 7-9 Shida,Chiba – Japan 1M $5,000
Aug. 13-17 Grand Plage, Lacanau – France 2M/2W $10,000
Oct. 7-17 Bali, Indonesia TBD* $75,000
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