The Allianz ASP World Junior Championships resumed in clean 3-to-4-foot waves at the iconic Ribeira D'Ilhas pointbreak and completed the third round of the men's competition, as well as the first four matchups of Round 4.
The world's best juniors took proceedings to another level today, posting a flurry of scores in the excellent range all day and putting on an exciting show for the crowds.
Mateia Hiquily (PYF), 18, was in sizzling form, firmly cementing himself as the standout surfer of the day, dispatching Australian Kai Hing in Round 3. Hiquily lacerated the Ericeira walls with unmatched speed and flair to post the highest combined heat total of the event so far, an incredible 18.80 out of 20 points possible.
â€œI'm really happy, but I can't shake the feeling that I didn't complete the two waves, I kept falling at the end,â€ Hiquily said. â€œThis wave can be hard to surf on your backhand, if you get a flat one you're just going to do cutbacks all the way, so I was stoked to get those more punchy ones.â€
Hiquily dismantled a clean set wave with three critical turns and showcased his technical repertoire with variations of his signature backhand hooks, to net a near-perfect 9.80 and stamp his authority on the heat.
Joshua Moniz (HAW) 18, came very close to tying Hiquily for the highest total with an impressive 18.37 against South Africa's Slade Prestwich. In a series of exciting exchanges, Prestwich had a slight advantage at first, posting a 9.50 against Moniz's 9.00, but the Hawaiian stayed focused and patient in the lineup. Eventually Moniz found another gem and took maximum risks on a long and fast floater before attacking the lip for a 9.37 and the win.
â€œThe set waves are all pretty much nines, so you just have to be patient and wait for the bigger ones,â€ Moniz said. â€œI got a bit nervous after Slade posting that nine and since we've had a pretty slow start, so I was just really hoping for a good set to come. You only get a couple of good sections, so you need to make sure to hit them right. If you make one mistake you could end up with a four instead of a nine.â€
Parker Coffin (USA), 19, took down an in-form Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF) in the dying seconds of their Round 3 matchup in an incredible come-from-behind victory. Lightfoot, sitting on a 17.17 heat total with only seconds on the clock, already had a foot in the fourth round. But Coffin took off late on a runner and tagged it multiple times on his backhand for a 9.57 and the win.
â€œI was sitting out there and I felt out of rhythm with priority, but you know in those last minutes when you need a big score, as long as you believe in yourself, it's totally doable,â€ Coffin said. â€œI've worked all year for that and I've replayed it in my head a million times. The wave was amazing and I just surfed it to its potential.â€
Coffin unfortunately couldn't find the same momentum in the fourth round and placed equal ninth.
Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI), 18, went on a tear in his Round 3 matchup against local Miguel Blanco (PRT), opening the show with a solid 8.67. McGonagle kept building momentum and started on a bomb to clock four massive turns for a 9.20 out of 10, and put his opponent in a combination situation.
â€œIt was a good heat, the waves were really good,â€ McGonagle stated. â€œI'm glad I was able to get two great waves and make it through. Miguel is a good friend of mine and he killed it too, that was a tight heat.â€
In a valiant last-minute effort, Blanco caught a great wave of his own, and rode it all the way inside, but ended up coming just short of the required score he needed, giving McGonagle the win and a ticket for Round 4.
â€œWhen that last set came, the first wave looked good and I took it, but it ended up not doing it so I kicked out. Miguel got the next one, I couldn't really tell from the back but I saw him ride it all the way through and the crowd was cheering him on. It was super nerve-wracking so I'm glad the score wasn't enough.â€
â€œThat was definitely my best wave, I was super patient and waited for it like 15 minutes but it was worth it,â€ Fernandes said. â€œI do feel like I have an edge because I know that wave so well, but you know everyone can surf this wave really well so choosing the best ones out there is crucial.â€
Fernandes later confirmed his new found form and qualified for the quarterfinals, topping Hiroto Ohhara (JPN) in a tight back-and-forth battle for first place.
Wednesday's morning call at 6:30am (local time) may be the final one as organizers are looking at a potential finish and crowning of the 2014 ASP World Junior Champions.