Anticipation and emotions ran high as multiple titles and qualification scenarios were on the line today at the Turtle Bay Resort Pro and Hurley Surf Club Pro Junior men's and women's events. These events wrapped up the WSL Women's and Junior regional circuits for Hawaii/Tahiti Nui, crowning champions in each. Maui's Summer Macedo and brother Ocean Macedo took the junior wins in clutch Final scenarios while Tahiti's Vahine Fierro put a stamp of success on the Women's QS. Runner-up athletes Barron Mamiya and Zoe McDougall also found victory as the Regional Junior Champions alongside Savanna Stone, who takes the Regional Women's QS title home to Kauai.
The day was bursting with high-intensity heats as the Women's QS division chipped away to reveal four finalists, including Fierro, Tiare Thompson, Alyssa Spencer and Brianna Cope. In the final heat of the day, Spencer had a commanding start with a mid-range score of 5.60, but lost the lead after she suffered an interference on Thompson. Fierro, known for her fearless approach and stylish backside surfing, continued to collect scores and ultimately found the best wave of the heat, a 7.50 that she snuck under Spencer's priority.
"It feels really great to win today because I've been making Finals but not winning, so I'm really happy to take the win this time," said Fierro. The Tahitian competed last year at the Turtle Bay Resort Pro Junior and missed out in the Semifinals and built momentum after nabbing a runner-up finish at this year's Papara Pro Vahine Open Tahiti and Wahine Pipe Pro. She battled with the best of Hawaii's athletes and was elated to take today's win.
"It's a really good feeling when you beat somebody that you really look up to, especially these girls from Hawaii, I really look up to them," she said. "They're so good and I'm always admiring their surfing so it feels good to win against them.
The audience held their breath during the dying minutes of the Hurley Surf Club Women's Pro Junior Final, in which Macedo, McDougall, Leila Riccobuano and Keala Tomoda-Bannert battled through a flurry of wind-swept waves. McDougall had the lead for the majority of the 30-minute heat and scored a 7.00 and 5.50, but Macedo fought back and with five minutes left on the clock, scored an 8.17 and then backed it up with a 5.07 in the final seconds.
The win cemented Macedo's place in the upcoming World Junior Championship in Australia, alongside McDougall, the newly crowned 2017 WSL Hawaii/Tahiti Nui Regional Junior Champ.
"Qualifying for Worlds has been one of my biggest goals this year because I've gotten third or fourth in the rankings the past few years and so I was just like, ‘I need to do it this year,'" said Macedo. "I feel like when I set goals for myself and I complete them, it just helps me out in the long run." Macedo has been working with Quiksilver coach and former CT Top 10 competitor Freddy Patacchia Jr. this season.
"This event actually put a lot of pressure on me and talking to my coach, Freddy P., I told him, ‘I feel so pressured because this is the one event I really need to do good, I really need to qualify,'" continued Summer. "He told me to use the pressure, so that's what I really focused on doing."
Her brother, Ocean, set the precedent for a Macedo sweep after he won the first division of the afternoon, the Hurley Surf Club Men's Pro Junior, against a stacked heat of Hawaii standouts. The Maui surfer took a commanding lead early when he dropped a 6.33 after closing out the most critical section of the wave with a vertical snap and a strong finish on the inside. Macedo went on to combo competitors when he scored an excellent 8.33 for multiple powerful maneuvers on a set wave, although Mamiya wasn't close behind. The North Shore junior secured a 6.93 and was on a determined hunt for waves, but fell short after failing to stamp out the necessary backup score for the win.
Mamiya still ended the day on top however, as he was crowned the 2017 Regional Junior Champion and awarded a travel scholarship along with McDougall. Mamiya is set to compete in the World Junior Championships next year and Macedo's win catapulted him to a qualifying position as well. Finn McGill, who did not compete at the Hurley Surf Club Pro Junior due to an ankle injury, also secured his place at Worlds along with Maui's Eli Hanneman.