For the fourth year running, some of the WSL's top Junior surfers are back in Mexico for the Los Cabos Open of Surf Women's Pro Junior -- a marquee event on the North America schedule. But nothing in previous years had prepared them for the unruly, heavy conditions on hand at the threshold of the wave size that Zippers can handle. Here's what unfolded on opening day.
Young Aussies Takeover Zippers
The international field in attendance displayed their dominance once more over the North America contingent, with the Australians leading the way.
An in-form Macy Callaghan took advantage of the pumping swell and acclimated easily among the junior women for a spot in the Quarterfinals. The Australian helped eliminate defending event winner, Summer Macedo, as the two got off to a great start, but Macedo couldn't find a back-up. Callaghan, however, led the way and posted the day's highest heat total, a 14.10 (out of a possible 20), and single-wave scores of a 7.67 (out of a possible 10) in her Round 1 heat.
"There's a few good ones out there, but I'm exhausted after those heats," Callaghan said. "I flew in yesterday, thinking I had a few days to rest, but ended up getting into this event as an alternate last minute. It's easier to just go out, surf, and forget about it though, but I've never seen Cabo this big -- I'm in pure shock. I feel a lot more comfortable in this size, being taller than most of the girls, and there's a lot of waves like this back home so that really helped."
Callaghan's fellow compatriot Zahli Kelly, who finished runner-up to Callaghan in Round 1, carried the Aussie momentum and topped current North America No. 1 Kirra Pinkerton in Round 2, Heat 1 -- who also advanced with a buzzer-beater. This is the 14-year-old's first time in Los Cabos, and she was greeted with the biggest conditions in event history. But, the Australian handled it brilliantly on her forehand, posting a 7.00 in the process, and earned her spot in the Quarterfinals.
"It was a little stressful, but the waves definitely got the adrenaline going," Kelly said. "To make the Quarters is great confidence knowing I can get through when the waves are tough. I wanted to get the bigger ones that gave you some wall and I got pretty lucky with a good first wave. I've never surfed this wave before and I cracked a rib a few weeks ago, so I didn't get much training in. It's great doing both events and knowing if I were to stuff up in this one, I'd still have the QS so I'm excited."
Savanna Stone Takes One Back For Maui
Savanna Stone, who's 14, took on the heavy surf beautifully in both Round 1 and 2. Stone competed in this event last year for the first time, but did her homework before returning and knew what was in store with the swell on hand. The Maui, Hawaii, competitor put on a showcase of forehand style and made work of the testy conditions and played a big role in eliminating one of last year's standouts, Samantha Sibley.
"It was pretty similar to home with the power the waves had, but finding your way back out was difficult," Stone said. "I had my coach and we were training for being further out since we knew it'd be big -- just working on where to sit and which waves to catch. You figure it out more and more every heat. I got in as an alternate and had to get out with only a few minutes, but it all worked out. I'm glad to get into this one and get my confidence up for the QS as well."
The Los Cabos Open of Surf Pro Junior event window runs June 11 - 13 at Zippers in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico.