Just four heats were run at the Rangiroa Pro Junior today, but they were the most important of the event thus far as they decided who advanced into the man-on-man Quarterfinals. There has been waves all day but the lack of consistency led officials to make the call to finish the event tomorrow.
Soli Bailey (Byron Bay, NSW/AUS), current No. 3 on the ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series advanced into the Quarterfinals and is making ground on No. 1 Jacob Wilcox (Margaret River, WA/AUS) as he isn't competing in this event and No. 2 Cooper Chapman (North Narrabeen, NSW/AUS) who has already been eliminated.
"I'm happy to be in the Quarterfinals, it's one steep closer where I want to be," Bailey said. "It's not the final yet, so I still have some work to do. I'm just going to prepare like I have been all event and hope that I can keep getting through heats and be the last one standing."
Kai Hing (Sunshine Coast, QLD/AUS) won a tight heat that saw 1st, 2nd and 3rd separated by only one point. Hing got off to an early lead and controlled the heat from start to finish to advance into the Quarterfinals where he'll match-up against Tahiti's Ariihoe Tefaafana.
"The first half of the heat was slow and I was the only one with a good score," Hing said. "I was feeling good then everyone started getting waves and scores, one guy even got a 9.00 so I kept the inside position so I could be in the spot for the best waves. I really wanted to make the Quarterfinals. It can be a gamble where you sit out there, you can score 9s on the wide bowl, or 10s if you wait for sets out the back. You just have to have a plan and stick to it."
Ariihoe Tefaafana (Tahiti) is the last surfer remaining in the draw from French Polynesia and has been lethal on his backhand, unloading vertical snaps right in the power-pocket of the wave all event.
"I'm happy to continue to represent my island," Tefaafana said. "Tomorrow in the Quarterfinals I'm going to do my best and try to have fun also. It's hard to get barrelled on your backhand out here, I think it's easier frontside, so I just try to do some big turns and it's working for me."
Josh Hay (Central Coast, NSW/AUS) won through to the Quarterfinals thanks to a solid variety of carving turns and snaps today. Hay will take on Northern Beaches surfer Jackson Carey in Heat 1 of the Quarterfinals tomorrow morning.
"This is the best result I've had this year and I'm still going so I'm really stoked," Hay said. "We've had some really small surf in the Pro Junior events this year so it's nice to be surfing some bigger, more powerful waves. There's barrels and turn sections, it's a high performance wave that's super fun to surf."
This is the first of two back-to-back events in French Polynesia, with the ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series moving to Tahiti next week for the Papara Pro Surf Festival that will host a pro junior event for the men, the Tahiti Nui Pro Junior, the Vahine Pro Junior for the women and an open ASP 1-Star Qualifying Series event for the men.
The Rangiroa Pro Junior will run from April 2 â€“ 6 and the Papara Surf Festival will run from April 8 â€“ 13