The 2018 Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Vissla heated up today following a huge day filled with big upsets and giant scores.
After a second-round knockout at the recent Hydralyte Sports Shoalhaven Pro Junior, Te Kehukehu Butler ensured he made up for any lost ground taking out his semi-final. The powerful natural-footed Kiwi came up against stellar competition in the form of Xavier Huxtable, Alister Reginato and Kai Tandler in the stacked battle, however, Butler was able to find two decent waves to notch up a 12.93 two-wave heat total to gain the upper hand and earn himself a spot in the final.
"I'm feeling pretty good after that heat," said Butler. "It was tough to get two decent waves out there. My Dad and I had been watching the conditions get slower as the tide came in, so I just thought I'd take whatever came my way. Thankfully it worked."
Currently sitting in the fourth position on the WSL Australasian Men's Junior Tour rankings Dextar Muskens was looking for an impressive finish to cement his position in the top five. Muskens achieved his goal, nailing a barrage of mammoth backside snaps to take out his respective semi-final with a respectable 11.5 two-wave heat total. Muskens progressed through the semi-final alongside current rankings leader Callum Robson. Both surfers will make their next appearance in the semi-finals alongside Butler and Huxtable.
"I knew I needed a decent finish in this event to give myself a solid chance of qualifying for the World Junior Championships," said Muskens. "I'm stoked to make tomorrow's final and I hope I can jump up a few spots with a decent finish tomorrow."
Zahli Kelly looked set to extend her lead on the junior rankings, cementing herself in her fifth Pro Junior final for 2018. Kelly shone in her semi-final heat, posting a decent 14.76 two-wave heat total to claim the heat and earn her spot in the final. Kelly will Molly Picklum, Nyxie Ryan and Alyssa Lock in the final.
"It's such a good feeling to secure a spot into tomorrow's final," said Kelly. "I've had one win this year, so I'd love to cap off this event with another victory. I'm elated to get to this point, but hopefully, I can go one step further tomorrow and the waves cooperate."
Nyxie Ryan kept the local surfing contingent on their feet, sealing herself a spot into the final in both the Pro Junior division and the 16-and-Under Girls. Ryan used her local knowledge to find a multitude of long-running right-handers to take out the semi-finals in both divisions and put herself in a position to potentially take double victories in tomorrow's finals. The 2018 Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Vissla is only Ryan's third Pro Junior event for the year.
"The waves were pretty tough out there, but I was really happy with the way I surfed," said Ryan. "It's such a good feeling to be surfing an event like this on my home break. My goal was to make the semi-finals, so I'm stoked to have achieved it. All the girls have been surfing so well, so I know it's going to be two tough finals tomorrow."