Dakine ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong: Day 2 Highlights
Costa Rican Lands The Maneuver Of The Event So Far; Hawaiian Girls Dominating Their Division
Monday, April 16, 2012
Playa Venao, Panama
With perfect walls rolling out of the South Pacific at both podiums at Playa Venao, the scores on Day 2 of the DAKINE ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong reflected the jaw-dropping level of surfing going on in the water. The aerials were higher, the turns stronger and the roar of the teams on the shoreline louder.
Midway through the morning, following a pair of big lip-hits, Griffin Colapinto landed an air-reverse to the screaming approval of his American teammates, punctuating a solid ride. Seconds later Costa Rica's Noe Mar McGonagle took off on a closing-out set wave on his backhand and pumped his way down the line. As the wave prepared to shut down, McGonagle aimed his board upward and soared into the air, rotating 360 degrees without a grab and stomped the landing. Think Kelly Slater at Bells Beach just weeks ago.
A pair of Australian coaches watched in awe. "Did you boys see that?" one asked of his surfers who were sitting near by. McGonagle ended up with the highest heat total (16.34) of the Boys Round 1.
"The wave was a close out, but I wanted to repeat a perfect 10 that I got in a previous Latin American Tour contest here in Venao," said McGonagle, who's score came up short of the 10 (7.17). "[Colapinto] was really good, so if I wanted to get first I had to give everything out there. I'm glad that I was able to advance and earn some points for my team." The McGonagle-Colapinto heat set the pace for what would be a long day of impressive feats of athleticism.
In the very next heat, Hawaii's Ian Gentil picked up where the Costa Rican left off, combining rail-to-rail surfing with fins-free turns and an array of aerials for an equally impressive effort. He ended up with the highest single-wave score of the event so far, 9.57 out of 10, and a combined heat total of 16.24.
"These contests are always hard, starting from the first round you can't underestimate anyone, everyone surfs so good," Gentil said. "I liked the kid before my heat (McGonagle), he got a nine and a seven. I was paddling outside and I thought, 'Oh my God, it already started, got to go big.'"
Other standouts in the Under-16s included Max Armstrong (RSA), Elivelton Santos (BRA), Kalani David (HAW) and Takumi Nakamura of Japan. In conversations around the event, many coaches, athletes and officials are picking Team Japan as a darkhorse for a team medal.
The swell that was forecasted by Surfline began to show itself right on schedule on Monday, just as the Girls took to the water for the first time in the event. All three Hawaiian girls who surfed – Tatiana Weston-Webb, Brianna Cope and Mahina Maeda – won their heats in convincing fashion. Maeda's polished rail surfing led to the highest heat total of the entire event, 18.10. Though it's still early in the event, the Hawaiians have established themselves as one of the favorites for the Team Gold Medal and the IOC President's Trophy, advancing through the Qualifying Rounds.
Nikki Viesins of the USA was another standout in the Girls division, putting her smooth, powerful style to use for a heat total of 15.67. With the win, she helped Team USA to maintain its strong start in the event. The Americans have never won Team Gold at the ISA World Juniors.
"I learned a lot about competition [last year] in Peru; I learned about heat strategy, to be tough out there, to almost hassle for your waves to get them, and the importance of building scores," said Viesins, who also represented Team USA at the inaugural ISA China Cup in January. "We've come here and hopefully we'll obtain that gold medal – that's what we are aiming for." Others standing-out in the Girls competition included Constanca Coutinho (POR), Ellie-Jean Coffey (AUS), Mauarii Maro (TAH) and Carol Fernandes (BRA).
The big names in the Boys Under-18 continued to prove that they're not ready or willing to fall victim to a lesser-known surfer. New Zealand's Ben Poulter and Portugal's Vasco Ribeiro looked particularly strong in the early rounds of the event. Other standouts included Paddy Daniel and Will Davey of Great Britain, Tom Cloarec (FRA) and Marcelino Botin (SPA).
"This is just the beginning; with the level of talent competing here in Panama, as the waves continue to get better, the surfing will too," said Fernando Aguerre, the President of the ISA. "We have the best junior surfers in the world and some kids who are still new to competition, but they're all sharing great waves and creating long-lasting memories. As much as ISA events are about who's winning, it's also about spreading surfing to every corner of the world and the smiles that come with that feat."
Surfing action resumes tomorrow morning, April 17, in what should continue to be improving conditions. According to Surfline, the Official Forecaster of the event, waves should be increasing in size for the next couple days, capping out in the six- to seven-foot range by the weekend.
The event webcast will be live beginning at 7:45am local time (5:45am PST; 1:45pm in London) at www.dakineisawjsc.com/live.
The DAKINE ISA World Junior Surfing Championship Presented by Billabong is made possible with the support of the following event partners: DAKINE, Billabong, Panamá, Super Deportes, FOX Sports, Mini, Dollar Rent A Car, Copa Airlines, Extreme Surf & Sport. The media partners are Surfea Panama, Surfersvillage and Surfos. The Official Forecaster for the event is Surfline.
About the International Surfing Association
The International Surfing Association (ISA) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee as the World Governing Authority for Surfing. It was originally founded as the International Surfing Federation in 1964 and has been running Open Division World Championships since 1964, Junior World Championships since 1980, and Masters World Championships since 2007. The ISA also sanctions the World Kneeboard Titles and the Tandem Surfing World Title, and held the first stand-alone World Bodyboard Championship in 2011, and the first World StandUp Paddle (SUP) and Paddleboard Championship in 2012.
ISA membership includes the surfing National Governing Bodies of 70 countries on five continents. Its headquarters are located in San Diego, California. It is presided over by Fernando Aguerre (Argentina), first elected President in 1994 in Rio de Janeiro and re-elected seven times since. The ISA´s three Vice-Presidents are Alan Atkins (AUS), Karín Sierralta (PER) and Debbie Beacham (USA). More on www.isasurf.org
Backed by a pro team roster that includes some of the world´s top action sports athletes, DAKINE has been an industry leader in action sports accessories since 1979. Founded in Hawaii and located at the base of Mt. Hood in Hood River, Oregon, DAKINE offers a complete range of innovative and quality products, including outerwear, sport-specific and lifestyle-driven backpacks, bags, travel gear and accessories. DAKINE products are available for purchase at specialty sports retailers worldwide. For more information, visit http://dakine.com/surf