A marathon opening day unfolded at the World Surf League (WSL) Men and Women's RVCA Pro Junior presented by Jack's Surfboards and Banzai Bowls. Two-to-three foot surf streamed into Newport Beach, California's, 56th Street Jetty with some inconsistency throughout the varying tide changes that the men and women still managed to deliver impeccable performances on.
Now, an all-important finals day awaits as the Top 2 women kept pace with potential threats. However, a few hefty upsets sent a few shocks through the men's rankings and there's plenty of moving room left open.
Kirra Pinkerton Owns A Special Opening Day in Newport Beach
It marked a special occasion for the women, who made their mark on opening day of the first-ever WSL Women's Pro Junior event held in Newport Beach. Some of North America's top women 18-and-under picked apart the lineup amid tricky high tide conditions to start the day's proceedings.
Current No. 1 Pinkerton set the bar for what was to be expected with her decimating backhand to earn a near-perfect 9.00 (out of a possible 10). The San Clemente, California, representative then went on to earn the highest heat total of opening day with a 15.83 (out of a possible 20) and looks in form to solidify her spot atop the North America rankings.
"It felt good to get into rhythm right away since I was nervous not surfing a heat in a while and just getting my first wave was a relief," Pinkerton said. "I love new events and this wave is so fun, even when it's small, and I'd love to win it. That left was just perfectly lined up and it kept give me multiple opportunities to hit. It's already the Semifinals now so I'm just going to put all my focus into making that Final."
Tiare Thompson Puts the Pressure On: "I'm Going Full Speed Ahead"
Thompson is coming to Newport Beach straight off a runner-up at the WRV Outer Banks Pro QS 1,000 earlier this month and followed up with a superb 14.77 heat total in Quarterfinal Heat 2. The 17-year-old picked up right where she left off on her dangerous backhand and could pose a threat to the Top 2 picture as both No. 3, 2017 North America Pro Junior Champion, Alyssa Spencerand No. 4 Eva Woodland are not in attendance.
"I came back from North Carolina right into some waves at home and I'm glad there's some today," Thompson said. "It's better than I expected so I'm glad there's great lefts out there and it's important to get my confidence up heading into the Semis. I'd love to get a big result here and move into second-place which makes me want to go after it that much harder. I'm definitely going full speed ahead."
Keeping Pace: Samantha Sibley Holds Her Ground
Pinkerton's fellow San Clemente competitor Sibley showed well under the pressure of a must-win Quarterfinal if she was to keep her No. 2 spot, contesting in the last Quarterfinal heat of the day, and is en route to backing up her Vans US Open result. The 16-year-old earned a 7.73 on her formidable forehand and, if the possible pulse in swell continues, is an event threat for her biggest result yet.
"This wave kind of suits my style and I feel really comfortable here since it's one of my favorite places to freesurf," Sibley said. "It's so amazing to get this opportunity and it's great for us girls to show what we got. It also takes a lot of pressure off having a chance at more points after last year being a little more stressful just being the four events and to be close to home is even better."
Early Blood Drawn by Kayla Coscino
Vans US Open finalist Coscino earned a Quarterfinal win of her own, eliminating top seeded threat Rachel Presti. The Laguna Beach, California, native is feeing comfortable near home and it showed as she stayed busy during the slow conditions.
"It's really fun being so close to home and seeing everyone come to where you live instead of going to where they are," Coscino said. "I tried to just catch as many waves as I could since it was slow with the high tide, but if I had priority I'd wait for the sets. World Juniors wasn't one of my goals, but now it's in the back of mind and I really want to make another Final here and Barbados. But, it's good just to be in the Semis because it's one step closer."
Also advancing on into the Semifinals, an in-form WRV Outer Banks Pro winner Makena Burke, Molly Kirk, Serena Nava, and Portuguese competitor Francisca Veselko are each looking for their own piece of history with a maiden Pro Junior win.
The RVCA Pro Junior pres. by Jacks Surfboards and Banzai Bowls will get back in the water Sunday, September 23, beginning with women's Semifinals at 9:00 a.m. PDT.