A spectacular day of high-performance surfing unfolded on Day 6 of the Ericeira World Junior Championships, with junior athletes taking on 2-to-3 foot surf at praia dos pescadores.
Hiroto Ohhara (JPN), 19, the surprise winner of last summer's Men's Vans US Open of Surfing absolutely blew up in his Round 3 matchup against South Africa's Matthew McGillivray. Ohhara picked his sweet spot in a bumpy lineup and waited patiently while his opponent was building his scoreboard on average and good scores.
The Japanese first struck at the 11-minute mark with an excellent wave and collected a 9.33 for his explosive backhand hacks. Quickly belting a solid backup, Ohhara kept chasing the punchy insiders and found an even better option to net a near-perfect 9.93 and definitely close the door on the heat and advance into round 4.
"I'm super stoked, at the beginning of the heat I was frustrated cause I didn't get the waves and Matthew did," Ohara stated. "I didn't know it was two 9s, and I thought there's still time and he could come back with two big scores, so I stayed close to him and tried to catch more waves."
Hiroto Arai (JPN), 20, picked up where Ohhara left off and defeated compatriot Reo Inaba (JPN) in an exciting bout. Arai got extremely busy and surfed nearly ten waves to build up his scoreboard to a solid 14.57, move on to the fourth round and improve on his last performance at the World Junior Championships.
"I'm so stoked to make my heat, I saw Hiroto got the two nines on such good waves I got fired up and wanted to do the same," Arai said. "I didn't get the same waves but a couple good little double-ups which were fun too. I tried to stay busy but it is tough to find the right ones."
In an all-Hawaiian battle, Benji Brand 19, and Elijah Gates 18, traded the lead multiple times exchanging good scores up until the final moments of their 25-minute second round bout. The natural vs. goofy battle didn't disappoint with Brand taking a final advantage courtesy of a radical two-turn combination on an average wave.
"It's a fun challenge to surf out there, you definitely got to pick you waves right," Brand said. "Priority can be useful towards the end of the heat when you can stick to the other guy and make sure he doesn't get a good wave. But there's a little luck involved, you need to be on the right wave that doubles up nicely."
Guadeloupe's Gatien Delahaye, 18, rounded up the second round action with a win over Kan Watanabe (JPN) to keep his Portuguese campaign alive. Delahaye, who excelled in clean lefts last summer in Morocco repeated the scenario and took full advantage of the conditions on offer.
"It's a tough spot with the different tides offering varying conditions and sometimes it stops breaking all together," Delahaye said. "I've had fun here, now I hear we might move back to the main break which is a right but that's fine, it should be fun if conditions improve and I'll try my best to perform there too."
Due to extreme tides and a large swell with gale force winds on Sunday, the authorities have forbidden access to the beaches and event officials will reconvene on Monday at 7:45 a.m. for a potential restart of the event.
MagicSeaWeed, official forecasters for the event, are calling for:
Still strong signs of improving conditions from Monday with Tuesday the first day of lighter winds and although it's hard to pin final numbers on it at this stage signs that Wednesday could offer both lighter or offshore winds and contestable sized swell at the main venue.