Men's Ericeira World Junior Championships

Rising Stars Deliver Big Performances as Jr. World Title Battle Begins

Highlights Day 2
Cleaner conditions allowed competition to resume and surfers put on a great show at the back-up spot of Praia dos Pescadores.

Day 2 of the Ericeira World Junior Championships resumed in cleaner, two-to-three foot surf at the secondary location of Praia dos Pescadores in Ericeira and completed 9 heats of the men's opening round of competition. Surfers took on a bumpy lineup and displayed an incredible level of talent, with multiple waves scored over the 9 point bar.

Italian phenom Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), 18, picked a clean left apart with three backhand turns to nail the perfect 9 point ride of the men's event. Fioravanti, who spent half of his 2015 season battling a serious back injury sustained in Hawaii last year, looked sharp and motivated to make his final effort as a junior count.

Fioravanti goes big in Ericeira
Young Italian star Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA) belts an excellent 9 point ride for three backhand turns in Round 1 of the Ericeira World Junior Championships.

"We have to be ready to surf any conditions no matter where we are," Fioravanti said. "The forecast doesn't look great so we have to deal with it. I love representing my country and I can't wait for many other Italians to travel the world with me, in the meantime I'm proud to represent the country and I hope I can go all the way. I'm feeling great, maybe not 100% yet but great and I'm not feeling pain anymore."

Local hero Tomas Fernandes (PRT), 19, picks up where he left off last year with a great first heat to take the pressure off his Junior title campaign. The former semifinalist in Ericeira controlled the 25-minute bout and moved on to the third round.

"I was born here so I'm stoked to be competing here again and couldn't be happier that everyone came to watch my heat," Fernandes said. "Last year as it was my first time competing in the World Juniors, a 3rd place was incredible for me and I want to do even better this time !"

Newly Championship Tour qualified surfer Kanoa Igarashi (USA), 18, opened his wave count in Portugal and confirmed his frontrunner status with a good performance and a smart heat surfed in tough conditions.

"Conditions are not exactly cooperating but it's good to get this thing going, hopefully we can get some heats done and move back to Ribeira d'Ilhas," Igarashi said. "Tiago (Pires) is helping me out here, it's great to have someone who knows the area so well in your corner, we're staying at his mom's place just above the spot and we can even watch the waves from there."

Japanese perennial threat Hiroto Arai (JPN), 20, scored an excellent wave of his own for a 9.10 and his spot in Round 3. In his sixth participation in a world junior final, Arai will look to climb up the ladder and put a successful term to his junior career.

Arai in Round 1 of WJC
Japan's Hiroto Arai takes a comfortable lead with an excellent 9.10 in Heat 12 of the opening round of the Ericeira World Junior Championships.

"I've never moved past round 3 so I want to improve on that," Arai said. "Water is a lot colder in Japan right now so I'm alright here and having fun. I was a bit nervous cause I got nothing for the first ten minutes and the other guys got active, but thankfully I caught that nice wave."

Byron Bay's Soli Bailey (AUS), 20, took out the final morning heat before an extreme high-tide put a halt to competition for a few hours, with a solid display of excellent surfing. Bailey, who placed fifth in this event last year, look determined to take his act to the next level and claimed two big scores on his backhand.

"It was great to get a heat out of the way and I'm stoked that it was a good performance," Bailey said. "It's pretty testing out there so I was just happy to get good waves. My toes are pretty much frozen so I'll work my way through the cold, the wind and everything else that comes with it. I love it over here, it's always such fun times, hopefully I can get a better result than last year."

Surfers and event officials will reconvene at 7:45AM on Wednesday for a potential early re-start of the men or women's competition.

MagicSeaWeed, official forecasters for the event, are calling for:

Persistent onshore winds from NW though SW with a switch to the more southerly direction from tomorrow that'll look worse for the backup venue than we've seen to day. Pulses of NW swell mixing with a steady stream of W swell at a size and period that'll look broadly similar to today.