The Subway® Surf Series Pro Junior mowed through day one of competition today with some of the world's most talented junior surfers battling it out in difficult one-foot waves at Port Kembla Beach.
Surfers from Australia, Brazil and New Zealand duked it out, with 64 males and 24 females all getting their moment to shine in the opening rounds.
Ethan Ewing (AUS) continued his blistering run through the Subway® Surf Series Pro Junior events, taking a solid win in his first round exchange. Despite, scoring an interference (second highest scoring wave is halved) in the heat, Ewing was still able to muster up a near-perfect nine-point ride, which left his closest rival Ben Buckpitt (AUS requiring a 7.59 wave score to steal the win.
Ewing has already won four consecutive WSL Australasia Junior Qualifying Series events in 2016 - including three Subway® Surf Series Pro Junior events and the NIB Pro Junior at Merewether - and is holding a commanding position in his quest to win the 2016 WSL Australasian Junior Qualifying Series (JQS).
"Right after I got that interference I got a bit stressed, as I knew it would be really hard to post a high score," said Ewing. "When I got that 9.00 wave score I began to relax a little bit. I actually thought this event would be a lot less stressful, but it's still pretty tense when you're in a heat. I'll definitely be trying to relax a bit more going into tomorrow."
Mikey McDonagh (AUS) mirrored Ewing's performance, posting a near-perfect 9.00 wave score. McDonagh showed a healthy combination of style and flow in the tricky conditions, executing a chain of giant turns to take the early victory. McDonagh surfed the heat using the same magic board that earned him a victory at the Subway® Surf Series at Newcastle in 2015.
"Getting a 9.00 out there has boosted my confidence somewhat going into the next round," said McDonagh. "I'm on one of my favourite boards and it's the board that I won the Subway® Surf Series event at Newcastle on. There was a lot of similarities in the conditions at both events and both times the board has felt magic."
Alysse Cooper (AUS) dominated the first round of the Girls division posting a respectable 12.85 heat total. The lightening fast goofy-footer found a handful of diamonds in the rough, performing a barrage of impressive manoeuvres.
"The first five waves I caught all scored less than two points, so I was beginning to stress a little bit before I got a decent score. It all got better from there," said Cooper. "I was trying to just stay busy and if the conditions remain the same for tomorrow, then I think I'll employ the same tactics."
Tru Starling (AUS) took another victory for the Northern Beaches locals, claiming a win in the opening round. Starling caught a massive 12 waves over the course of the 20-minute affair, posting a handful of decent scores.
"The waves are really tricky out there, so to get through is a giant relief," said Starling. "I just tried to remain as enthusiastic as possible and get as many waves as I could. I also just kept in the back of my mind to worry about my own gameplan and not anyone else."
Sophia Chapman (AUS) and Sophia Fulton were also victorious in the first round of the Girls division and as a result sealed their position into tomorrow's second round.
All competitors are advised to ring the event hotline (0458 247 212) by 6.45am on the days of competition to confirm location and running order.