Soli Bailey (Byron Bay, NSW/AUS) has claimed the 2014 Rangiroa Pro Junior event title after winning the Final over Kai Hing (Sunshine Coast, QLD/AUS) in an exciting day of surfing. The surf was in the two to three foot (1 metre) range, with rippable walls and air sections on offer for the ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series' best surfers.
Soli Bailey held his nerve in the final after Hing started strongly posting an 8.00 (out of a possible 10), answering back with a 9.00 and a 9.70. Bailey lost in the Final in 2012 and finished 3rd last year, but wouldn't be denied in 2014. Huge gouging carves and tweaked aerials saw him take the win, he was by far the standout surfer of the event.
"It's really amazing to be able to come over here and surf this wave," Bailey said. "I've come close to winning the past two years, and then sitting out there in 2nd needing a big score was pretty frustrating - I was thinking 'not again'. I was fortunate enough to then go on and get two good scores. I finished the event with my highest heat score in the Final which is what you want. I've got an amazing family I stay with here and they treat me like one of their own. I've had such a great trip and this just tops it off."
Kai Hing didn't make any mistakes in the Final, starting with an excellent score and backed it up with 7.00 (out of a possible 10), but had to settle for 2nd place. Hing was gracious in defeat applauding Bailey in the water and already talking about going one better next year.
"I was really excited when I started with an 8.00," Hing said. "On the very next wave I snapped my board and had to race in and back out. Soli (Bailey) got a small score and then I got a 7.00 and I could almost taste the win. Then there was long lull and Soli got two nines quickly and it was over. It was so much fun, it's been a great event. We've had a few heats with some good barrels. I'm happy to get a 2nd for sure, it's two heats better than last year. Maybe I can do what Soli did and win it next year."
Josh Hay (Central Coast, NSW/AUS) finished equal 3rd place today after going down to Bailey in the Semifinals. Hay was on point, tearing waves apart all the way down the reef, but he came up against a rampaging Bailey and was eliminated.
"Soli (Bailey) is a really hard person to come up against," Hay said. "But I'm feeling good. This is my best result this year on the ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series, and probably my best result ever. The waves here are so fun from two foot to eight foot it just runs down the line with barrels and turn sections, it's such a good wave."
Ariihoe Tefaafana (Tahiti) was the highest placed French Polynesian surfer, finishing equal 5th place after losing to Hing in the Quarterfinals. Tefaafana was solid on his backhand all event but failed to find the waves to unload some big turns today.
ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series Top 5 1 - Soli Bailey 2 - Cooper Chapman 3 - Jacob Wilcox 4 - Kelly Norris 5 - Josh Hay
RANGIROA PRO JUNIOR FINAL RESULT: 1st Soli Bailey (AUS) 18.70 def. Kai Hing (AUS) 15.00
RANGIROA PRO JUNIOR SEMIFINAL RESULTS: SF 1: Soli Bailey (AUS) 17.00 def. Josh Hay (AUS) 11.50 SF 2: Kai Hing (AUS) 13.75 def. Harry Bryant (AUS) 13.25
RANGIROA PRO JUNIOR QUARTERFINAL RESULTS: QF 1: Josh Hay (AUS) 10.50 def. Jackson Carey (AUS) 9.50 QF 2: Soli Bailey (AUS) 15.50 def. Shane Campbell (AUS) 11.55 QF 3: Harry Bryant (AUS) 13.25 def. Harrison Martin (AUS) 7.25 QF 4: Kai Hing (AUS) 13.75 def. Ariihoe Tefaafana (PYF) 7.25
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