The Los Cabos Open of Surf Junior Men's event came to a fantastic conclusion as waves delivered on the final day of competition. With Zippers providing playful sets in the three-to-four foot range, the Juniors had more than enough to showcase their state of the art surfing with Griffin Colapinto (USA), Nolan Rapoza (USA), Cole Houshmand (USA), and Eithan Osborne (USA) battled for the 2016 event win.
Just before the final horn sounded, Colapinto took a last-second ride and blasted a tail-high, air-reverse -- posting an 8.23 to steal the lead from an in-form Rapoza. The San Clemente, Calif., native only found three waves as he posted an 8.83 for his first score and finishing off the event with an incredible finale. Posting the event's highest single-scoring wave in the Semifinals with a 9.60, the 17-year-old went on to post the event's highest heat total with a 17.06 in the final.
"That was such an insane final with the waves coming in perfectly and I'm so excited to win this event," Colapinto said. "Seeing Nolan get that 8.23 for his big air I was just thinking if one comes through like that I'll have to throw something even bigger.
"This is a big result and gives me a lot of confidence after having some shocking results in the QS -- now I feel that momentum again and it's a great feeling. Hopefully I can make a few more finals in some of the Junior events, especially the US Open since I won there and really want to back it up."
Nolan Rapoza (USA) nearly held on to earn a big win at Zippers, but with priority going to Colapinto he was left watching when the buzzer sounded. After an equal ninth-place finish at the Ron Jon Vans Pro, Rapoza gained some ground on the North America Junior Tour rankings and now sits No. 2 behind Kei Kobayashi (USA) -- a great place to be as he looks to qualify for the World Junior Championships.
"It's definitely a hard pill to swallow not knowing what else I could've done in that final," Rapoza said. "Griffin just got that wave in the last ten seconds and there was nothing else to be done at that point. I felt really good this whole event, my boards were working great and doing a bunch of QS's I'm learning a lot.
"Those events are so tough and I can feel myself getting smarter in heats, but I just couldn't pull that one off. I'll be looking for another good result at the US Open since it's in my hometown, as well as to make a run at World Juniors, because that's where you can start getting some seeding into the QS."
Cole Houshmand (USA), meanwhile, came out of the water with a third-place finish after a fantastic run in Los Cabos. Posting an 8.27 in the Semifinals and 8.60 in the Final, Houshmand looked poised for a good result and one going forward with his ambitions also set high for this year.
"I was happy to keep my momentum going forward throughout this event and make it all the way to the final," he said. "I knew going into it that it was going to be an insane heat so I was just going to have fun with it and not stress myself out. I'll hold onto this event but I really want to keep improving and take a win in one of these Junior events. It's a big goal of mine to hopefully qualify for the World Junior Championships and know it'll be a tough road to get there, but I'm ready for it."
Also posting a massive excellent score of 9.00 in the Semifinals, Eithan Osborne's (USA) air tactics were paying dividends heading into the final. Competing in his first 2016 Junior Tour event in the North America region, Osborne earned some valuable points here and is determined to get his competitive season jump-started.
"That was such a fun heat and I wasn't expecting to make it to the Finals so I'm really excited about that," Osborne said. "I'm psyched with that result but I'll try to top it next time -- fourth is cool but to win would be even better. I'll really be getting into more events this year between the Juniors and QS so I'm just going to do my best and have fun with it. Surfing these Juniors is great now that it's 18-and-under and not competing against the older guys, I feel a lot more confident making more heats to prepare for that level."