One of the most coveted crowns in the surfing world will be up for grabs next week as the world's best surfers under 21 years of age assemble in Ericeira, Portugal for the Allianz ASP World Junior Championships. The top surfers from each of the ASP Region's (Australasia, Europe, Hawaii, Japan, North America, South America, South Africa) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS), plus a selection of worthy wildcards will go head-to-head in a fight to add their names to the prestigious list of ASP World Junior Champions that includes; Gabriel Medina (BRA), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Andy Irons (HAW), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and Laura Enever (AUS).
Keely Andrew (Sunshine Coast, QLD/AUS) has been a standout on the ASP Australasia JQS all season and finished the year by taking out the coveted No. 1 spot on the rankings. The newly crowned ASP Australasia JQS Champion has warmed up for the Allianz ASP World Junior Championships by competing at the ASP Qualifying Series (QS) 5-Star Oceano Santa Catarina Pro and finished the event runner-up to Hawaii's Coco Ho.
â€œI'm feeling good heading into the Allianz ASP World Junior Championships,â€ Keely said. â€œI have had a good year on the QS and JQS and I'm confident in my surfing. The hard stuff of qualifying for the event is done so I'm just going to have fun with it and see if I can take the win. It's my last year as a junior so I want to make it a memorable event.â€
Ella Williams (New Zealand), reigning ASP World Junior Champion is preparing to defend her crown in Portugal in contrasting conditions to what saw her win last year. This time last year Williams received a last minute call up into the ASP World Junior Championships as a replacement wildcard, then she tore through the field and took the crown as the event dark horse.
â€œI'm really excited about this event as I haven't been to Portugal before,â€ Williams said. â€œAll the girls are surfing so amazing and really pushing it more than ever, so it's always going to be a tough event to win, but I'm really happy to be apart of the event.â€
Soli Bailey (Byron Bay, NSW/AUS) won two events and surfed through a debilitating foot injury in the final event to claim a hard-fought ASP Australasia JQS Championship earlier this year. He's in Portugal and fired up after a few months free-surfing and is counting down the days until his Round 1 bout.
â€œI've been here for a few days and I'm stoked with the way the wave is set up, it's similar to a few waves at home so I feel really comfortable out there,â€ Bailey said. â€œAfter the Australasian Junior events wrapped up I did a few months in Indonesia, just switching off and getting away from it all, which was fantastic. I've never spent so much time in the water. Now I'm just getting back into a routine, getting prepped and ready for the event. I'm excited to get back into it and I'll see how I go, I'm not putting pressure on myself as I always get the best results when I'm having fun.â€
Tahitian surfers O'Neill Massin (PYF) and Mateia Hiquily (PYF) have both been awarded wildcards into this year's Allianz ASP World Junior Championships and after impressive showing in the JQS and QS events in Tahiti this year they are sure to be threats in any and all conditions.
Men's ASP Australasia Allianz ASP World Junior Championships Qualifiers: Soli Bailey (Byron Bay, NSW/AUS) Jacob Wilcox (Margaret River, WA/AUS) Cooper Chapman (North Narrabeen, NSW/AUS) Kelly Norris (Sunshine Coast, QLD/AUS) Kalani Ball (South Coast, NSW/AUS) Kai Hing (Sunshine Coast, QLD/AUS) O'Neill Massin (Tahiti) WILDCARD Mateia Hiquily (Tahiti) WILDCARD
Women's ASP Australasia Allianz ASP World Junior Championships Qualifiers: Keely Andrew (Sunshine Coast, QLD/AUS) Bronte Macaulay (Margaret River, WA/AUS) Ella Williams (New Zealand) WILDCARD