The surf picked up today, with the south swell making its first solid appearance at the third day of competition of the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship in Salinas, Ecuador. The left point at La FAE offered super fun four-to-five foot surf all day and Under 18 Girls and Under 16 Boys finished Round two. The Under 18 Boys also faced off on the south end of the beach at the secondary contest area for Round three and for the grueling, "life or death," repercharge rounds. Today saw some of the highest scores of the event as well as the first eliminations of the contest with 32 surfers exiting the competition.
"We had amazing waves today and so many of these kids really stepped up their game," said webcast commentator and 1989 ASP world champion, Martin Potter. "We saw the future of surfing come to Ecuador."
While all of the powerhouses have all team members still in the contest, 2005 event champions, Hawaii leads with nine surfers still in the main rounds. France and 2003 event champions Brazil are tied with eight a piece, while Australia has seven, the USA six and South Africa five.
The Hawaiians and the USA team went head-to-head in nearly every heat today. The teams have one of the greatest rivalries in surfing since the ISA recognizes Hawaii as its own nation because of the state's historical contribution to the sport. In the end, Hawaii claimed the victory flag for the day but with all of USA still in contention it remains very much uncertain as to which team will finish higher at the end of the contest.
French Under 18 Girls surfer Canelle Bulard set the pace this morning, posting a combined 17.17 (out of 20), the second highest score of the entire contest. She kicked out early on her first two waves, each scoring under 1.0, but then found her spot on one of the larger sets, scoring an 8.0 as she demolished the wave on her forehand. As if that wasn't enough, on Bullard's next wave she posted a 9.17 to put the nail in the coffin.
"The heat was really good and I was able to catch two set waves," said Bulard. "I felt like I surfed them to my ability. My coach told me where to sit and he was right, the waves came my way. Our team is really strong and working together. Everyone is giving me good advice."
Last year's gold medalist and Roxy team rider Laura Enever of Australia posted an impressive 16.66 total points for the win in heat five. Hawaiian Leila Hurst and USA's Lakey Peterson each had high scores for first and second respectively in heat six, while South African Bianca Buitendag continued her quest for gold with her win in heat seven.
Brazil made a strong showing in the Under 16 division with three of their four surfers taking first. Tahitian Mihimana finished in second in heat two behind Brazil's Caio Ibelli while the rest of the Tahitians Under 16 teammates were relegated to the repercharges.
Under 16 had a few share of big wins and big upsets. Moroccan surfer Ramzi Boukhiam overtook favored-Australian Matt Banting, along with local Ecuadorian Roberto Rodriguez and South African Slade Prestwich. Coming in third and fourth, Rodriguez and Prestwich still have a chance at the title if they are able to prevail through the repercharge heats.
The Moroccan team, representing one of the smaller surfing nations in the ISA, traveled with only two surfers to compete. Being without a coach or manager, the French team informally adopted the two and has been on the shore cheering on the Moroccans with the same gusto reserved for their teammates.
In the next heat, one of the closest contests of the day with all four surfers being separated by less than two points out of 20, USA's Evan Geiselman and New Zealand's Ben Poulter went down to Hawaiian Matt Costa and Costa Rican Jordan Hernandez. Geiselman and Poulter were unable to post a strong enough second score to advance. Matt Costa had the wave of the heat scoring an 8.83 which held up in spite of his low 2.60 second wave score.
The afternoon finished off with local Ecuadorian surfer Dominc Barona making history by becoming the first girl to make it to Round three of an ISA World Junior event. The home team couldn't have been more excited and thrilled to learn that she had advanced.
Competition will resume tomorrow at 8:00am at Playa de las FAE beach in Salinas, Ecuador with round three of Under 18 Girls and Under 16 Boys, along with repercharge rounds for all three divisions.