The New Zealand Home Loans Surf Festival got off to a flying start with Round 1 and four heats of Round 2 of the men's Chain Resources Pro Junior. The Women's Pro Junior and ASP 6-Star Qualifying Series were off for the day. The ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) competitors were put to the test in two-metre pumping conditions at Fitzroy Beach, Taranaki.
Byron Bay's Soli Bailey (AUS) surfed through serious injury to win his opening heat. Bailey cut his foot after kicking a knife and received six stitches, but the current No. 1 on the ASP Australasia JQS was determined to seal the ASP Australasia Junior Championship.
"I arrived here this morning and didn't know if I would surf today, but it worked out," Bailey said. "It hurts more to walk than surf. I've got to make a few heats here so that's what I'm focused on."
Jackson Baker (Newcastle, NSW/AUS) advanced through his opening heat in 1st position with Quinn Bruce (AUS) also advancing in 2nd position. Fitzroy Beach local brothers Daniel Farr (NZL) and Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Joe Van Dijk put together an imposing two-wave heat total of 15.55 in Round 1. Van Dijk looked right at home in the surf at Fitzroy Beach, picking off good waves and tagging excellent turns all the way down the line.
"The waves in that heat were super fun," Van Dijk said. "There were a couple of closeouts, but if you dodged them you could find some really fun waves."
Current No. 5 on the ASP Australasia JQS rankings, Sunshine Coast surfer Kai Hing (AUS) opened his campaign in NZ with style, throwing down whips and carves in the difficult low-tide conditions. Hing advanced into Round 3 where he'll face Nathan Specht (AUS), O'Neill Massin (PYF) and Jacob Wilcox (AUS) when competition resumes.
"It was hard for us out there. We couldn't hear scores and we had to play our own game and not worry about what the rest were doing," Hing said. "I'm loving it here. It's a good change from the last event in Tahiti. Sometimes I love to put on a wetsuit and get into colder water."
The blue ribbon division of the NZ Home Loans Taranaki Surf Festival is the Women's ASP 6-Star Port Taranaki Pro and will feature NZ's Top 17 ASP WCT surfer and Taranaki local Paige Hareb (NZL) as well as reigning ASP Women's World Junior Champion Ella Williams (NZL) from Whangamata. Bethany Hamilton (HAW) will compete in this event along with numerous other international surfers.
For more information log on to Surffest.co.nz