Day 1 of the Maxum ASP Women's Pro Junior and NRMA Women's Surf Classic got underway today in difficult one-to-two foot (1 â€“ 1.5m) waves at North Cronulla as some of the world's most promising female junior surfers battled it out in an effort to book spots in tomorrow's finals.
2013 Maxum ASP Women's Pro Junior runner-up Keely Andrew (Sunshine Coast, Qld/AUS) fired a warning shot at her competitors in the first round of the event, posting an impressive 16.83 heat total (out of a possible 20 points). The lightening-fast natural-footer unloaded a flurry of technical forehand carves to post the monster score. Keely backed up her Round 1 performance with a runner-up finish in the second round, and as a result will surf in tomorrow's Quarterfinals.
â€œI don't know if my first heat could have been any better really,â€ said Andrew. â€œI knew my second round heat would be super tough, especially with Isabella Nichols in my heat. I tried not to implement too many tactics into my gameplan, except to mainly stick to the basics and get some of the better waves that came through.â€
Isabella Nichols (Sunshine Coast, Qld/AUS) was also able to excel in the difficult conditions, successfully posting a heat total of 16.34 points. Nichols managed to effortlessly fly over dead sections of the wave to link together multiple chains of solid turns and earn herself a position in tomorrow's Quarterfinals.
â€œIf you got the wrong wave out there, then you pretty much had zero scoring potential,â€ said Nichols. â€œI unfortunately have zero chance at qualifying for the World Juniors this year as I had a few injuries early in the year, so my focus is firmly on doing well in this event. The furthest I've got in a Pro Junior is the Quarterfinals, so ultimately I'd like to go one better than that tomorrow.â€
Zoe Clarke (Jan Juc, Vic/AUS) managed to get the edge over her fellow competitors in the Round 2. Clarke amassed a comfortable lead early in the heat, which left her fellow competitors going toe-to-toe for the runner-up spot.
â€œI haven't made too many heats in Pro Junior events so far this year, so it feels pretty good to get a spot in the Quarterfinals,â€ said Clarke. â€œThankfully I managed to get two waves early in the heat as I think it really helped secure the win for me. Instead of looking at who I was against I just focussed on the conditions and what I needed to do on them to get through.â€
Sophia Bernard (Manly, NSW/Aus) caused one of the biggest upsets of the day, successfully winning a Round 2 heat over Lucy Callister (Gold Coast, Qld/AUS) and former ASP Australasia Pro Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) leader Stephanie Single (Lennox Head, NSW/Aus). Bernard left her closest rivals chasing scores in the excellent range to take her lead away.
â€œThe heat with Isabella Nichols and Keely Andrew really got me amped for my heat,â€ said Barnard. â€œI tried to keep as busy as I could as I didn't really know where a wave could pop up. I definitely will take away a lot of confidence from that heat. Even though it was challenging with the onshore conditions, there were some fun waves if you could find them.â€
Ren Hashimoto (Japan) flew the flag for the international contingent â€” throwing down a barrage of critical frontside turns to take a convincing win in her Round 2 heat. Despite currently living on the Gold Coast, Hashimoto still surfs under the Japanese flag and is the only international surfer left in the draw.
â€œI'm so happy after that heat,â€ said Hashimoto. â€œEven though I live on the Gold Coast now, I often surfed similar waves in Japan. It would mean everything to me if I could manage to take this title back to the Gold Coast, but I'm sure there's a lot of good surfers that I need to beat first.â€
Tomorrow's event is expected to kick off with the Quarterfinals at approximately 7:30 am at North Cronulla.
The Maxum ASP Women's Pro Junior has $2000 prize-money on offer and vital ASP Pro Junior Series rankings points for surfers vying to qualify for the forthcoming ASP World Junior Championships in Ericeira, Portugal from October 25 - November 2, 2014.
In addition to the ASP Australasia JQS event, the NRMA Women's Surf Classic will see some of Australia's best female surfers participating in a variety of different surfing disciplines including junior and open longboard, shortboard and stand-up paddleboard.