Big Waves and Drama at the 2009 Quiksilver ISA World Juniors

Conditions: 6-8 foot
Events Held: Too many different divisions and rounds to count
Nature's Call: Smaller tomorrow but solid again for the final days
Predictions: Watch out for Hawaii and Brazil

Team USA's coach Joey Buran's stomach wasn't well this morning, coming down with a little Ecuadorian revenge, and what he saw during the Girls Under 18 heat featuring Lani Doherty didn't make him feel any better. 6-8 foot waves were steamrolling down La FAE point making paddle outs treacherous. Kirby Wright of Australia started the {{{300}}} yard mission to the outside seven minutes before her heat started. Doherty followed but was stopped by the PA and told to wait until there were only 5 minutes left in the heat before her's. When she finally started paddling, she found herself only halfway out the back when the horn blew to start her heat, but Wright and Johanne De Fay of France we're sitting at the tip of the point because they'd had a head start. A big set appeared on the horizon, Wright and De Fay paddled into two of them and scored their best rides of the heat. Doherty, meanwhile, didn't get her first wave until less than five minutes were left. She finished in 3rd and was sent to the repercharge rounds.

"It's not fair," said Buran after filing a protest. "They (Wright and De Fay) caught the two best waves of the heat because they paddled out early. The heat should be re-surfed."

So far this event has been a mixed bag for Buran and Team USA. The stars and stripes squad started well but has seen a handful of surfers sent to the repercharge in the past few days. "We had heats with Hawaiians all day yesterday and they thumped us," he said. Hawaii, which hasn't won a gold since Huntington Beach in 2005, was looking great yesterday by having the most surfers still in the non-elimination qualifying rounds. But the Islands' team lost its first soldier today when Kyle Galtes couldn't get through a high scoring repercharge heat. "We're having a tough one today," said Hawaii's coach Donald Pahia.

No matter what the conditions, the guys and girls you'd expect to do well have living up to their reps. On the American side Nat Young, Kolohe Andino, Conor Coffin and Courtney Conlogue are going strong in the qualifying rounds as are Hawaiians Kaimana Jaquias, Keanu Asing, Dylan Goodale, Malia Manuel, Leila Hurst and Alessa Cuizon. Their strong performances so have kept Australia from running away with an overall title that they've won 3 years in a row.

As the wind picked up in the afternoon and the surf bigger and sloppier, highlights were hard to come by. The north podium turned into a heaving beachbreak version of inside Sunset and the main point was a field of whitewater. A German surfer who spent half the heat just trying to make it outside finally just gave up and paddled in, visibly rattled. With the swell expected to decrease over the next few days the performance level will likely go back up. Will the Americans and the Hawaiians stay in the hunt for gold? Stay tuned.

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