Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Qualifier: Japan

opj-japanTop Juniors Have Two More Chances (Japan, France) To Qualify For $75,000 Final In Bali

(San Juan Capistrano, Calif., Aug. 5, 2009) – The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Grade-1 Oakley Pro Junior takes over Japan August 7-9. The Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Qualifying event will return to Shidashita Point of Chiba for the second year running bringing top Japanese junior talent to vie for the $5,000 prize purse and qualification into the world renowned Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge.

With four countries down and only two qualifying events remaining, Japan and France are the final two qualifying events which will determine who will advance to the Final in Bali, Indonesia, October 7-17 where the world’s best juniors will compete for the National Title and $75,000-the richest prize purse awarded at a junior event. The final qualifier, the ASP Grade-2 Oakley Pro Junior France, hits Grand Plage, Lacanau, Gironde, August 13-17 with a $10,000 prize purse.

Last year, Nobuyuki Osawa edged out Shota Nakamura in the final of the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Japan with a combined heat total of 11.85 (out of a possible 20) versus 11.50 to take the win. Although both qualified for the inaugural Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Final in Bali, neither were able to attend. In their place, Keito Matsuoka, who finished third in Japan, and Kaito Ohashi advanced instead.

Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Japan 2008 Winner Nobuyuki Osawa

Both finished a respectable equal ninth in the Final, worth $2,500 each, against the tough international contingent of 18 men. Ohashi earned his equal ninth place in the two-man heats of Round 3, losing to Marc Lacomare (FRA) who went on to earn second-place overall. Matsuoka also lost in Round 3, to Nick Godfrey (ZAF) who went on to finish equal fifth. Both, Ohashi and Matsuoka are returning with the hopes of qualifying for their second Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Final.

Japan, as one of the last two qualifying events, is also drawing top international contenders scrambling to qualify for the esteemed Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Final. American standout Dillon Perillo (Malibu, CA), currently ranked #2 in the ASP North America ratings (trailing Hawaii’s Keanu Asing by only 15 points) will be one to watch. He’s still on the hunt for qualification after a disappointing third-place finish in the U.S Qualifier at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, Calif. in April.

“Qualifying for [the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Final] is really important to me as a junior,” says Dillon Perillo. “Since I missed the spot at Lowers by one ranking, I thought it would be nice if I could qualify in Japan.”

San Clemente local Shaw Kobayashi (San Clemente, CA), the Ally’s number one up-and-comer Mitch Crews (AUS), who finished equal third in the 2008 Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Final, and Chris Friend (AUS), a.k.a. “Wendy,” will also compete at Shidashita Point.

Following the contest is the Fifth Annual Oakley Big Day Out, which is divided into four divisions: Men’s Under 20, Under 16, Under 12 and Girl’s Under 18. This amateur event is a free competition that provides real contest experience in a fun and relaxing environment. All participants walk away from Oakley’s Big Day Out a winner. Unfortunately, the same is not true for the Pro Junior competitors who are all looking to earn a coveted spot in the Final event in Bali.

Now in its second year, the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge has already traversed the globe beginning back in February at North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia, then stopping at Lower Trestles, San Clemente, Calif., followed by Port Alfred, South Africa, and Etapa Itajai, Brazil. With a cumulative prize purse of $165,000, the series still has plenty of steam before hitting the wave-rich shores of Bali, Indonesia in October.

The top two finishers at each of the qualifying events secure a spot into the Finals. Eight have already qualified and four more will qualify at the remaining two events. Six additional juniors, one of which will be determined during a local trial in Bali, will be issued wildcards to round out the field of 18, and ensure that the talent at the Final is representative of the best juniors in the world.

The following surfers have qualified thus far:

1. Owen Wright (AUS)
2. Jadson Andre (BRA)

1. Kai Barger (HAW)
2. Davey Cathels (AUS)

1. Shaun Joubert (ZAF)
2. Brendon Gibbens (ZAF)

1. Alejo Muniz (BRA)
2. Jesse Mendes (BRA)

“The Juniors have really stepped up the level of competition this year,” notes Oakley Surf Marketing Manager Ronny Nelson. “We couldn’t be happier with how the series is progressing and are expecting the Final in Bali to be a close race.”

The sixth and final qualifier will be France at Grand Plage, Lacanau, Gironde August 13-16, 2009. This ASP Grade-2 event has 122 confirmed Junior Men’s competitors and 37 confirmed Junior Women’s competitors ready to take to the water. These participants include the likes of Chase Wilson (USA), John John Florence (HAW), Kiron Jabour (HAW), Granger Larsen (HAW) and Dylan Melamed (HAW).

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 continues to build international momentum and qualifying has become a first priority for many of the world’s top juniors.

For more information log onto www.oakleyprojunior.com