The World Surf League Ron Jon Vans Junior Pro kicked off competition today in fun windblown 2-3 ft. surf at Shepard Park, Cocoa Beach, Fl. The first round of both the Junior Men's and Women's competitions were completed in their entirety today, with standout performances put on by the future of North American surfing talent. The swell continued to fill in throughout the day, setting up what looks like a great weekend of competition ahead.
The standout surfer of the day in the Junior Men's event was Costa Rica's Noe Mar McGonagle who posted the day's top two single wave scores, a 8.83 and a 7.67 in route to the day's highest heat total, a 16.50. McGonagle has been making a name for himself over the last year internationally, emerging as one of the rising stars on both the Junior Series and Men's Qualifying Series (QS). Due to registering late he was forced to compete in Round 1, but without any issue.
"I was going to stay in Hawaii and focus on next week's Pipeline Pro Junior, but the forecast wasn't looking good for the week and I saw I could get in here, so I made the last minute trip over," said McGonagle. "It's nice sometimes to start in Round 1. You have a chance to build your rhythm, and get a feel for the line up and surf an extra heat."
"All these guys are surfing so well, the top Juniors are all here, so it's a lot of work competing at this level. Every heat is difficult. I just put on my game face and surf it like it's a Final," admitted McGonagle. "Both of my scores were on lefts. I feel stronger on my backhand when it's smaller, I can throw it up there on the bowly sections and do bigger turns."
The standout surfer of the day in the Junior Women's event was San Clemente surfer Malia Osterkamp who posted the highest heat score and wave score of Round 1, a 14.33 and an 8.50 respectively. The California goofy-footer is in her second year of full time WSL Junior Series competition, and is enjoying the different venues she's visiting.
"I'm super stoked on the waves today. I wasn't expecting this and I think it's actually bigger out there than it looks," Osterkamp said following her victory. "My strategy was to look for the waves with more wall on them, but my highest score literally just came to me. So, I kind of lucked into it, but I was able to connect a few turns on my backhand and feel good about that heat."
Another standout in the Junior Men's event was Jake Davis of Capistrano Beach, Ca. The 18 year-old has a signature power style, and the choppy wind swell provided enough canvas for Davis to make his presence at the event be known.
"The heat started slow for me, with some really low scores, and I realized I needed to be patient and wait for a good one," said Davis. "My seven just came right to me, and I was able to surf it normal, without hopping or even feeling like I lost speed. There is fun wind swell and it's really consistent, so that's great for the contest and I'm ready for tomorrow."
McGonagle's fellow countryman Tomas King, hailing from Tamarindo, Costa Rica also put on a strong performance in the opening round. Like Davis and McGonagle, King presents a strong brand of power surfing and was able to capitalize on today's conditions with multiple turn combinations.
"It's great to get the first heat out of the way. My new board feels magic and the conditions are really fun," said King following his heat win. "I'm committed to the Juniors and QS events within North America this year, and it feels great to compete well at any venue. I'm looking forward to my next heat."
For more information on the Ron Jon Vans Pro Junior and other events happening at the Beach 'n Boards Fest visit www.beachnboardsfest.com.