Brazil’s Maresias Beach was a sea of colour today as 27 countries descended on its sands for the first day of competition at the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships.
From the outset the standard was high with some very strong performances in the 3-4 foot (1.2 metre) surf, which improved throughout the day.
Due to the sheer scope of the event, with more than 250 competitors, the contest is being held on two podiums, with the first qualifying round of the Under 18 and 16 Boys divisions hitting the water simultaneously today.
France’s Jeremy Flores top-scored the round with 16.5 points (out of 20), with his best ride being an 8.67 (out of 10). Flores defeated Billy Stairmand (New Zealand), Giovanni Perini (Italy) and Tito Navarro (Chile).
Flores’s performance was especially notable considering he had to borrow a board from Brazilian friend Wiggolly Dantas after he broke his quiver of four in the six foot (two metre) surf during the week before the contest started.
“Wiggolly is a good friend so I’m lucky I have his board — I have no other choice, Flores said. “But I feel all right, the waves are fun and I love Brazil.
Dantas also won his heat today, posting an 8.67 for one of his rides. The winner of the 2005 Quiksilver King of the Groms event, Dantas lives just to the north of Maresias Beach, and he won the Brazilian national title in six foot (two metre) surf here last weekend.
“I surf here a lot and there were good conditions today and I’m happy with my performance, Dantas said of the punchy beachbreak.
Fellow Brazilian Franklin Serpa was also in great form, posting a 16.43 score to defeat Portugal’s Tomas Valente and Puerto Rico’s Cristian Candel.
Australia’s Matt Wilkinson was another standout in the Under 18 Boys division, winning his heat with a 15.5 score, to defeat Reubyn Ash (United Kingdom), Diego Varga (Ecuador) and Leon Gough (Dominican Republic).
Wilkinson, 17, from Copacabana, NSW, said he was pleased with the result. “It gets the nerves off because the first heat is always a bit scary, he said. “I scored an 8.67 (out of 10) on a long left that walled up for me so I was pretty happy. Hopefully I’ll fall into a rhythm and keep going.
France’s Pierre Laborde and Australia’s Owen Wright were the top performers in the Under 16 division today, with Laborde scoring 15.5 for his win and Wright lodging 15.33. Each had a top wave score of 8.0.
Laborde defeated Ryan Hawker (New Zealand), and Chile’s Christian Gonza and Matias Ketels, while Wright defeated Juan Diaz-Teran (Spain), Stuart Campbell (United Kingdom) and Enzo Dapelo (Ecuador).
Laborde, 14, from Hossegor, France, said he was very happy with his performance today. “The waves were good. I arrived here not sure I was in the event because we had some trial heats to pick the final Under 16 French team and I luckily made it on a sudden-death heat.
Wright, 16, from Culburra, NSW, said he felt he was just warming up. “It was good to get the first heat out of the way. The waves are powerful and they give you a lot of speed, he said.
Bruce Mackie, from Barbados, registered the highest single wave score of the Under 16s round with an 8.67. Mackie defeated Shaun Joubert (South Africa), Teoro Tahutini (Tahiti) and Matteo Belalba (Italy).
The eight-day competition continues until Sunday 14 May when gold medals will be decided in three divisions — Under 18 and 16 Boys, and Under 18 Girls.
The scores of the top three athletes per division are added to reach the final ranking to decide the World Junior Surfing Champion Team, a title currently held by Hawaii.
The 27 countries competing in the event (in order of their placing in last year’s contest) are: Hawaii, Brazil, USA, Australia, South Africa, France, New Zealand, Tahiti, United Kingdom, Peru, Portugal, Japan, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Ecuador, Barbados, Jamaica, Chile, Canada, Italy, Germany, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Spain, Sweden and Uruguuay.
Tomorrow’s schedule is: Under 18 Girls Qualifying Round One, Under 18 Boys Qualifying Round Two and Under 16 Boys Repercharge One.