The World Surf League (WSL) RVCA Pro Junior presented by Jack's Surfboards received fun, two-to-three foot swell on opening day, allowing a stacked field of competitors to post impressive scores in challenging conditions. Despite a dropping tide, with lined up sections for the beginning of Round 2, the highest numbers were posted at the end of the day as the tide made its return -- putting an exclamation point on an already impressive start. Rounds 1 and 2 were completed in their entirety and the field is down to the final 16 surfers.
In the last heat of the day, Daniel Glenn (USA) linked together strong combinations for an excellent 8.67 and backed it up with a 7.47 to post the highest heat total of the day -- a 16.14. Glenn earned victories in both heats and is an in-form threat here at Newport Beach. Tide was a big factor in Glenn's performances, but he was able to overcome the dead-low tide in his first heat and receive some promising waves in Round 2.
"I was so stoked the tide started filling in for that heat. Thank goodness I had the last heat after getting the worst of conditions in the last heat of Round 1," Glenn said. "The incoming tide allowed us to really surf and found some open face after getting closeouts most of the morning. It felt really good to get out there and earn a few heat wins on the first day."
The New Smyrna Beach, Fla., local nearly pulled the maneuver of the day, just falling short on a massive air, but was all smiles with a second heat win in the bag. Holding onto a Junior World Championship qualifying position all year, currently sitting at No. 4 on the rankings, Glenn still finds himself in that same spot with bigger picture aspirations starting here in Newport.
"There was no way I was going to land that fakie but it was worth a shot -- I'm still young so I have to give it a go while I can," Glenn said laughing. "World's is definitely on my mind and it's been bugging me to make it through a Round 2 heat all year after strong results at Barbados and Sunset, so it feels good to be in a Quarterfinal. There's still a lot of surfing to do and I just want to take this thing all the way to the end and win it."
Jake Marshall (USA) hasn't been around the contest scene in recent months, taking some time away to dial in his surfing on high-quality waves and return with a renewed vigor for competing. Taking down both of his heats today, posting the highest heat total of Round 1 with a 14.50, Marshall came back with authority and dealt with varying conditions on hand to turn in solid scores.
"I just wanted to take a little break from competition after feeling a bit burned out from a really busy spring," Marshall said. "It's great to be back in the Juniors after surfing some great waves all summer and I'm just really excited to be here. The morning heat was super fun finding some wedges out there and waves are everywhere so I just wanted to get busy. I don't have anything to lose so I just want to have fun and find the best waves I can."
Marshall battled through the low tide conditions in Round 2, taking down an advancing Kevin Schulz (USA) and eliminating Peruvian threat, Lucca Mesinas (PER). In a talented field of Juniors, the Californian is enjoying his time at Newport and looks to be in the right places for when waves are on offer.
"That heat was super hard," Marshall said. "The waves began to deteriorate with the dropping tide so I felt like whoever was going to get up would win that one. I was stoked the waves came my way and gave me the chances to advance with everyone going for it -- these guys are ripping in tough conditions so it'll be great to get some more fun waves and go after it."
Putting up the highest single-wave score of the day, Knox Harris (USA) went ballistic in the second-to-last heat of the day and earned a 9.00 on his backside to win the heat over Josh Burke (BRB). With a 6.87 backup, Harris posted a solid heat total of 15.87 and is elated to be on the shores of Newport Beach with two heat wins in his pocket.
"The waves are a lot like home and I've been working on my backhand there with all the rights around," Harris said. "I luckily got a pocket that didn't close out on me and was able to get some big hits in. Hopefully I can get some more of those right-handers and I'm just stoked to be here in Newport -- I love it here for sure and I'm excited to get some heat wins. I'm really looking forward to the Quarters and see how far I can take this."
Action resumes Sunday morning for an 8:00 a.m. start, with the crowning of the inaugural RVCA Pro Junior presented by Jack's Surfboards champion to happen just before Noon. Check here for live scoring and a recap after the final horn sounds.