World Surf League (WSL) Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Regional Junior pacesetters Barron Mamiya and Zoe McDougall both surfed into the Finals today at the Hurley Surf Club Pro Junior, the concluding event of the region's annual Junior season. The energy spiked on the North Shore sixty 18-and-under athletes charging Pool Bars in whipping 30mph easterly winds and semi-clean, 5-foot wave face heights.
Mamiya secured the Regional Junior Champion title earlier in the year by winning three out of four Pro Junior events (Sunset Pro Junior, Papara Pro Junior Tahiti and the Pipe Pro Junior) and earns a top slot into the World Junior Championship in Australia, regardless of his final placing in the Hurley Surf Club Pro Junior. Come Finals day tomorrow, the North shore native will also take home a scholarship check to help fund his travels for 2018 as the Regional Junior Champ and is now preparing for his rookie season in the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
"My motivation is just to win all those events on the North Shore because that is where I'm from and it's a big deal to me," said Mamiya. "If I get to win, that would be awesome because I will have won every [Pro Junior] event in Hawaii and I don't know if anyone has ever done it before. I'm stoked to surf and I haven't competed in a little bit so I'd be stoked to win."
McDougall, meanwhile, leads the women's regional junior ratings by 500 points and was in-form during today's competition, especially during Quarterfinal Four where she secured a 6.93 and the heat win. The Sunset Beach local has had six first-place finishes across the International Qualifying Series (QS) and Junior series this year with an additional four more podium places, and has traveled the world to compete and gain more experience.
"I think bringing a QS1,000 to Turtle Bay brought a lot more girls from the mainland and overseas," said McDougall. "It's pretty cool to surf against them and have some other girls mixing up the competition so it's not just all the same faces." McDougall will go against Summer Macedo, Leila Riccobuano and Keala Tomoda-Bannert in the Final.
Kauai's Tomoda-Bannert made a lasting impression in the opening heat of the women's division with an 8.50 on her backhand, the highest single-wave score of the morning. A series of vertical re-entry floaters and some nice carving maneuvers saw her advance into the Quarterfinals where she continued her dominating routine and bested her former high score with another excellent 8.67.
"My 8.67, I was looking at it and then I was so close to not going, but then I thought, this one looks like it's going to wall up," said Tomoda-Bannert. "This morning the waves were pretty tricky and I didn't know where to place myself and then I figured it out in my second round and I'm pretty stoked right now to have made it through."
Brodi Sale, a 14-year-old surfer from the Big Island, scored the highest single-wave score of the day -- a 9.0 -- after he took off on a head high wave that lined up perfectly at the point. Sale hit the reform section with precision and then continued to the inside for a couple more turns to punctuate his performance.
"I kind of battled for position with the kid in white [Levi Young] and lucky the wave came -- probably one of the better waves so far today -- it just kind of kept giving, so it was good," said Sale. The young gun bowed out in the Semifinals and will return home with a 5th-place finish.
Finding their place in the Final alongside Mamiya is Ocean Macedo, Logan Bediamol and Robert Grilho, all Hawaii athletes. The Men's and Women's Hurley Surf Club Pro Junior will finalize tomorrow afternoon after the Turtle Bay Resort Pro. For live scoring, tune into WorldSurfLeague.com or check out the WSL app.