In a dying swell at the beautiful Bombo Beach in Kiama, Southern NSW, the WSL World Junior Championship has seen the first eliminations take place during Women’s Round 2. With light winds and a shifty A-frame shaped sand bank, the world’s best Junior Women surfers ripped into 1-to-2 foot peaks on Day 3 of competition.
Minori Kawai cemented her position as the final Japanese female in the event, claiming a tough second round battle against Argentinian surfer Josefina Ane. Kawai found a handful of diamonds in the rough that allowed for a chain of technically sound forehand snaps and as a result mustered up a respectable 10.50 heat total. Kawai attributed her win to her experience surfing similar waves in her homeland. “This is the first time I’ve made it through the second round, so I’m stoked,” Kawai said. “A lot of the competitions we have in Japan have similar waves to this, so I felt more than comfortable out there. I came to Australia with the goal of taking the event out, so hopefully I can keep moving through the heats.”
Heat 1 of Women’s Round 2 saw Burleigh Heads ripper Lucy Callister come up against Japan’s Minami Nonaka. Callister got busy early and put Nonaka on the ropes posting a solid 6.00-point single wave score (out of a possible 10) off the bat. This was impressive in the tricky conditions and left Nonaka chasing for the entire heat. She was unable to find the score she needed leaving Callister to scrape into Round 3. “I was really nervous about that heat,” Callister said. “I have been watching Minami in the free surfs and she has been ripping so I knew it would be tough, especially in these smaller conditions. I’ve got a good support crew here so I had good advice before the heat and knew exactly what I needed to do.”
The second heat of Round 2 had a similar feel to the first with Alyssa Spencer dropping a strong single wave score of 7.67 early in the heat and leaving Maddie Peterson chasing a solid score. Spencer then dropped a 5.33 with her vicious forehand attack, meaning Peterson needed an almost perfect score to take the lead; a score that would be almost impossible to attain in the waves on offer during their match up. “It was slow out there but when they came they were really fun,” Spencer said. “I was really lucky to get that 7.67 early because there were only a few decent set waves coming through. I know today is small so I hope it picks up for the next round.”
At the bottom of the tide in Heat 3, the waves began to slow down and the tactical use of priority became paramount. Both Caroline Marks and Taina Hinckel were only able to find two waves each during their match up. Marks posted her heat total of 8.67 (out of a possible 20) early leaving Hinckel searching for a low score of 3.50. With only seconds left Hinckel found a quick right-hand runner under priority which she managed one closeout manoeuvre on. Her score came just short of the requirement meaning she was eliminated from the event while Marks progresses into Round 3. “The waves really slowed down in that heat,” Marks said. “We both only managed to find a couple of waves and then she got that one when I had priority at the end which was a worry. I was so nervous waiting to hear her score and was stoked I got away with the win. To make it all the way in surfing you have to surf heats like that; It’s all part of it.”
After it looked as if the waves had stopped in Heat 3, Heat 4 set off with a bang with South Africa’s Kirsty McGillivray taking on Ariane Ochoa from the Basque Country. It was non-stop action with 18 waves surfed between the two. In the end it was the poise and stylish technique of Ochoa that saw her take the heat win with a two-wave total of 10.04. “I’m really happy to be at the World Junior Championship,” Ochoa said. “This year has been a good one for me competitively and I have been working really hard. My Round 1 heat was not that great as I was so nervous and kept falling. I’m so happy that I could come out and turn it around in that heat.”
The WSL World Junior Championships has been secured for Kiama by the NSW Government, through its tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW. The event will run from January 4-13 2017. Check back at www.WorldSurfLeague.com or check out the WSL app for more information on the event and for the live webcast.