The Ericeira World Junior Championships resumed on Day 4 at the back-up location of Praia dos Pescadores in bumpy two-to-three foot surf and decided the last four women in contention for the ultimate junior crown.
Local favorite Teresa Bonvalot (PRT), 16, clinched the first ticket for the Semifinals and pleased the Ericeira crowds when she eliminated Tia Blanco (USA) this afternoon. Bonvalot snagged a good wave from under her opponent's priority and scored a 7.33 to take a firm lead on the 30-minute bout. With just minutes on the clock, the young goofyfooter put a final nail in Blanco's coffin with a near-excellent 7.93 and the win.
"I'm super happy to improve on my result from last year, I lost in the Quarters so it's all bonus from here," Bonvalot said. "I'll do my best to win this contest now and I hope the waves get better for the finals, especially if it's at Ribeira. I think the boys will probably be up now in the next few days, so I'll get some rest and go surfing a little bit to stay happy!"
Reigning World Junior Champion Mahina Maeda (HAW), 17, got one step closer to defending her title and qualified for the Semifinal, where she'll meet Bonvalot in a rematch of last year's Quarterfinals. Maeda started with a bang and stayed very patient to find an excellent back-up. Despite a good effort at the halfway mark from Portuguese Camilla Kemp (PRT), Maeda stayed out of reach and won the exciting matchup.
"I haven't been feeling 100 percent but I really wanted to make finals day and hopefully surf Ribeira again," Maeda said. "That was an intense heat, Camilla is a really talented surfer, she's improved a lot throughout the year and I think she was definitely the dark horse in this event. We had a couple of heats against each other so she definitely put my title on the line so I'm grateful for the opportunity and thankful that I came out on top."
In an extremely tense third Quarterfinal, Dax McGill (HAW), 17, built momentum on her first three waves, culminating with an excellent 8.43 to put her opponent under pressure. Unphased by the situation, Holly Wawn (AUS), 18, started on a good wave and performed three surgical turns for a near-perfect 9.50 that put her right back in the mix. Wawn went on to catch another couple of excellent waves to collect the event's highest combined heat total, an incredible 17.53 out of 20, and her spot in the second Semifinal.
"I'm feeling great, that was a good day," Wawn said. "When I'm in a contest I prefer to surf on my backhand, it's quicker to fit more turns in and it's efficient. I was happy to make the quarters but now it just gets better every time I make a heat."
In the final heat of the day, Isabella Nichols (AUS), 18, was off to a quick start and scored multiple good waves to take an early lead over Peru's Melanie Giunta. The regional Australasian junior champion Nichols kept building her scoreboard and eventually came out victorious with the final spot in the coveted Semifinals.
"It was still kind of wobbly out there and I was trying to find my feet but I'm happy to still be standing," Nichols stated. "I knew Melanie was capable of getting great scores out there so I had to put something solid on the board. This is my first time surfing the junior final so I'm really happy and it would be cool to make the Final."
Event officials and surfers will reconvene at 7:45 a.m. local time Friday for a probable re-start of the men's competition.