Event No. 5 of 10 on this season's Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) North America Pro Junior Series, the Nike 6.0 Pier Pressure plays a crucial role in determining which five North American junior surfers will qualify for the prestigious Billabong ASP World Junior Championships (WJCs) held in Australia next January.
Despite Huntington Beach's notorious reputation for allowing local knowledge to shine through in the oft-trying conditions, it was an international field of Australians and Hawaiians today that wowed both judges and spectators alike as the Pier Pressure whittled the field down to 32.
Owen Wright lead the global charge today as he collected the event's highest heat total of a 17.43 out of a possible 20 for his convincing Round 1 victory. The powerful goofy-footer wasn't finished there as he would go on to grab the highest single-wave score of the day, a 9.00 out of a possible 10, in his Round 3 heat for a series of blistering backhand bashes. The Australian is surfing with unmatched speed and looks to be a serious threat for the inaugural Nike 6.0 Pier Pressure Pro Junior Title.
"I'm really surprised by the level of talent over here, especially from the really young kids," Wright said. "Everyone is ripping out there. I was in town and hoping to get some practice in for when I go home and compete in the Pro Juniors there. The conditions here in Huntington really suit my surfing – it's really peaky and shifty, but my boards are feeling good and I'm happy to be here. The draw is pretty tough, but I reckon the Australians are going to give everyone a run."
Nat Young is one of the youngest competitors competing in the event at 16, but age did not deter the prodigious goofy-footer from besting his much older opponents with style, punch and bite..
"I usually surf up a division so competing against older guys doesn't really bother me," Young said. "This is my second Pro Junior event. I did one last year at home at Steamer Lane so I'm much more relaxed here. I am looking for a good result at the Nike 6.0 Pier Pressure to kickstart my campaign on the ASP Pro Junior Series."
Wesley Larsen was another standout competitor today, winning each of his three heats en route to a berth in the Round of 32. Although looking as though his luck had run out in Round 3, the progressive goofy-footer stole a last-minute lefthander into the pier and slashed his way to victory.
"I just barely squeaked through that last one," Larsen said. "It's pretty exhausting out there with the current. That was my third heat today so I was pretty tired at the end there. I knew I had to come up with a score on the last one and I'm stoked I did."
Larsen advanced with a solid island contingent that included his brother Granger.
Interscope Records recording artists, The All-American Rejects, stopped by the Pier Pressure site after an exclusive in-store performance at Jack's Surfshop. The velvet voice of Tyson Ritter graced the Pier Pressure webcast as well as the on beach commentary.
When Nike 6.0 Pier Pressure Pro Junior action recommences tomorrow, top ASP North America junior surfers Cory Arrambide, Travis Beckmann, Eric and Evan Geiselman, Chris Waring among others will hit the lineup for the Round of 32, beginning at 8am.
Competitors on the ASP North America Pro Junior Series will hold onto their six best results of the ten-event season in hopes of qualifying for one of the five coveted regional seeds into January's ASP World Junior Championships. ASP North America will invite the top-4 finishers on the regional Pro Junior Series as well as the highest placing North American surfer on the World Qualifying Series (WQS) who is of junior age to compete at the WJCs.
With past ASP World Junior Champions including the likes of Andy Irons, Joel Parkinson and Jordy Smith, Nike's first venture into the professional surfing world with the Pier Pressure will surely have an impact on the future of state-of-the-art surfing.
Tomorrow's event will be webcast LIVE at www.surfingthemag.com/events/nike-pier-pressure/07/live.html
For results and more information, log on to www.nike6pierpressure.com
SCHEDULE – DAY 2 NIKE 6.0 PIER PRESSURE PRO JUNIOR (ASP Grade-2 Event)
8:00am – 10:40am: Round 4 (round of 32) – Heats 1 – 8
10:40am – 12:00pm: Quarterfinals – Heats 1 – 4
12:00pm – 12:50pm: Semifinals – Heats 1 – 2
12:50pm – 1:20pm: Specialty Heat
1:20pm – 1:50pm: Finals