The World Surf League Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) division of the Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Coolridge kicked off Sunday, July 5, dishing out plenty of big scores and upsets keeping the crowd of surf fans at Lennox Head entertained during the full day of surf action.
Current Australasian JQS rankings leader Kai Hing (Wurtulla, Qld) managed to just keep his Skullcandy Oz Grom Open dream alive performing some last minute heroics to sneak into second position behind Quinn Bruce (Sunshine Beach, Qld) who held down a convincing lead over the entirety of the heat. Only requiring a small score in the dying seconds of the heat, Hing unloaded an impressive two-turn combination to post the required score and move into the progressing position.
"I'm feeling so relieved after that heat," Hing said. "I saw Quinn getting waves down the other end of the bank, but when I went down there I only got two three-point waves so I had to paddle back to where I was sitting originally and try to get a score. Luckily, I saw a little one in the dying seconds, so I just paddled my heart out and managed to get the five-points I needed to get into second spot. I knew I had to hunt down whatever was coming through."
Local surfer Zac Wightman (Lennox Head, NSW) had the hometown crowd on their feet posting an excellent 9.17 wave score (out of a possible 10 points) taking out the top spot in his first round heat. Wightman will now face Kael Walsh (Yallingup, WA), Kai Hing (Wurtulla, Qld) and Mitchell Parkinson (Coolangatta, Qld) tomorrow.
"I haven't had a heat like that in a long time, so it felt good to get some mojo back," said Wightman. "Seeing faces you know as you run down for your heat is such a good feeling before you paddle out. I actually thought I was too deep on that wave I got a 9.17 on, but it held its line for me fortunately and just rang nicely along the bank."
Mitch Parkinson (Coolangatta, Qld) and Sandon Whittaker (Avoca, NSW) caused one of the biggest upsets of the event so far knocking out Kalani Ball (Stanwell Park, NSW). While Parkinson sat uninterrupted on wider righthanders, Whittaker opted to sit close to Ball as he attempted to find the required 5.77 wave score. In the process, Parkinson managed to post a massive 9.3 wave score to put his fellow competitors on the ropes, while Whittaker managed to get the upper hand against Ball, claiming the runner-up position.
"I knew from the get-go that there could have been a few hassles for waves," said Parkinson. "Sandon (Whitaker) got the inside position a couple of times, so I simply decided to move down the bank a bit and save my frustration. Seeing Kalani (Ball) get knocked out doesn't really put my mind at ease at all, every heat here is tough and you need to really blow up to progress through."
Shane Campbell (Cronulla, NSW) and Morgan Ciblic (Merewether, NSW) went blow-for-blow in their opening Pro Junior heat, with both surfers trading off a series of excellent scores, which consequently left their fellow heat surfers on the ropes chasing a combination of scores to move into a progressing position. When the final hooter sounded, both Ciblic and Campbell had notched up heat totals in excess of 15.00 points (out of a possible 20 points) and earned their spot into tomorrow's second round.
"I'm just happy to get that heat over and done with to be honest. It's always a good feeling to get the first heat out of the way," said Campbell. "I've been working on my forehand a lot with my coach Matt Griggs and it's an area of my surfing I've been giving a lot of attention."
Competition will commence each day at 7:30am with the call for the days schedule and location confirmed via the event hotline at 6:45am. The event hotline is 0458 247 212.
The six-day event will see over 300 competitors duke it out in under-12, under-14 and under-16 divisions as well as a prestigious WSL JQS event.
All event divisions will be broadcast live on skullcandyozgromopen.com.au.
The Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Coolridge is proudly supported by Skullcandy, Coolridge, Ballina Shire Council, Le-Ba Boardriders, Surfing NSW and World Surf League.