Winning his last career Pro Junior event, Cam Richards (USA) earned the World Surf League (WSL) Sprite Soup Bowl Pro Junior title in quick fashion, securing the lead right away and solidifying it with his last scoring wave. With a new rising swell in the water, competitors were given plenty of scoring opportunity and took full advantage of the best conditions during the event window - posting near-excellent scores (8.00 or higher) throughout the day in beautiful Barbados conditions.
Richards capped off his illustrious Sprite Soup Bowl Pro Junior campaign, winning every heat except his Quarterfinal, with a final victory over Griffin Colapinto (USA), Dane Mackie (BRB), and Colt Ward (USA). Posting a 6.93 and 6.67, Richards took control of the heat early and extended his lead by the end - earning a 6.73 for a big air reverse on a Soup Bowl left. Aging out of the Junior Series, Richards will now compete in the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) to keep his career going.
"It's amazing to go out with a bang," Richards said. "It was my first time to Barbados and I had a great crew around me. I don't think I had priority once during the whole Final and was just having fun surfing out there. It's really my strategy in every Final I make is to just get as many waves as I can, definitely involved a bit of luck - just so stoked it went my way."
"I wouldn't be where I am if it wasn't for the Junior Series," Richards added. "It's a great stepping stone and feels great to get a win at the end of it all. Hopefully I can carry this momentum into the QS since I'll be doing that all year next season so I'm really fired up."
Earning runner-up, and a spot into the World Junior Championships, Griffin Colapinto (USA) was ecstatic to make the Final and solidify a qualification spot to Portugal in January. Keeping Richards on his toes, Colapinto gave his best efforts but fell just short of clinching this year's Bajan crown.
"I'm super stoked on the trip down here and making a Final," Colapinto said. "Unfortunately I couldn't get an excellent score on the board and Cam got those two 6s so I couldn't get past him. I really wanted to pass Kanoa [Igarashi] on the final rankings, but I'm excited to have made three Finals this year. I can't wait for Worlds, I've been to Cascais before so I'm beyond thrilled to go back."
Despite his Semifinal exit, Noah Schweizer (USA) punched his ticket to Portugal for the World Junior Championships after Lucca Mesinas (PER) couldn't find the 8.34 needed to advance into the Finals. It will be the New Smyrna Beach, FL native's first appearance at the World Championships and he couldn't believe hearing the news he qualified.
"Last year was a huge shocker for me so this year I tried working a lot harder and I'm just so stoked to have made it," Schweizer said. "My Quarterfinal heat against Burke was the most nervous I've ever felt going into one. Luckily it went my way with the scores, but I was driving as hard as I could."
Representing North America at the World Junior Championships will be Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI) who clinched their qualification spots through their rankings on the WSL QS rankings, and Colapinto, Parker Coffin (USA), Daniel Glenn (USA) and Schweizer for their performances on the Junior Series.