In the final, most anticipated Pro Junior event of the season, Noa Mizuno (Kuliouou, Oahu) and Mahina Maeda (Sunset Beach, Oahu) captured the win at the Turtle Bay Resort Pro Junior, the last World Surf League (WSL) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) of the year. Today's success saw Mizuno advance past Cody Young (Makawao, Maui) for the Regional Junior Champion title, while Brisa Hennessy (Kailua, Oahu) grabbed the title in the women's division and runner-up place behind Maeda. Mizuno and Maeda's performances catapulted them into the qualifying slots for the World Junior Championship in Australia this January.
With so much at stake during this event the upsets were inevitable, but ultimately 8 surfers stood atop the podium to be awarded with checks, leis and scholarships. Joining Mizuno, Maeda, Young and Hennessy in January's World Junior Championships are Noah Hill (Maui), who placed third in today's event, and Christopher Bluthardt (Oahu).
Hennessy was a standout during the event and talked about what it means to secure the Regional Junior Champion title: "It feels so good. It was kind of stressful going into this event knowing that there's so many amazing surfers trying to qualify so I was kind of nervous, but it feels so good to come out on top."
The Men's Final saw a nail-biting back and forth battle between Mizuno and Young, while the coastline crowd cheered and whistled as 4-6ft. sets marched through the lineup. Mizuno dropped the highest single wave score of the heat, a 9.15, and backed it up with a 6.20 to take the lead over Young, who stayed equally busy but ultimately fell short by a point.
"I'm just stoked, I worked hard for this," said Mizuno. "This is my first big win and to just take the regional title and go to Australia as the top Hawaii contender is probably one of the best feelings for me. I'm just stoked how this day turned out because a lot of hard work was put into this and it's good to know it paid off."
The women's Final saw four out of the top five ranked junior women battle it out for the title, but Maeda's backhand proved unbeatable in the challenging conditions. Hennessy, Summer Macedo (Maui) and Zoe McDougall (Oahu) fell to the former WSL World Junior Champion in second, third and fourth place respectively.
"The final was really intense and the girls that I went up against were the team that I traveled with back in Azores, so it was kind of like a Hawaii surf team class, it was just super fun," said Maeda. "All of us were pushing each other and Brisa just came back from the Azores as the ISA World Junior Champion, so she was definitely the one person to beat. I'm just really glad I redeemed myself in that heat."
Maeda had the strongest wave of the Final, an 8.0, and backed it up with a 4.75, however Hennessy nipped on her heels with a 6.90 and 5.50, only .35 points behind Maeda. Macedo showed true grit in the lineup after injuring herself a day prior to the competition. Although her performance was not enough to take the win, this was a personal victory for the event.
Finn McGill (Oahu) threw down the highest heat total of the event, a near perfect 19.00 in the first round after nailing a 9.75 and backing it up with a 9.25. McGill missed out in the Semifinals, but will go on to surf in the next WSL Hawaii event, the HIC Pro, Presented by Vans, October 27 - November 9. This event will see many of the juniors from today compete against the world's best and is the official regional qualifying event into the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, November 12 - December 20.