The world's best junior surfers are enjoying the early days of 2018 on the gorgeous South Coast of New South Wales this week, at Kiama's Bombo Beach, where one important piece of leftover business from 2017 will be decided. After a long season of qualifying events all over the globe, 36 men and 18 women (all age 18 and under) will do battle to become the World Champions. The highly anticipated event has a window that is open from January 4 -12, giving event organizers the option of picking the best conditions on offer during this period.
Those on hand represent the best juniors from every region of the globe, including Hawaiian standout Cody Young, who fell just short of a finals berth in Kiama last year after being ousted by eventual Champion Ethan Ewing in the Semifinals. While Young was pleased with his equal 3rd last year he's hoping to finish stronger this time around.
"Last year, my goal was a good result, but this year it's to take the win," said Young. "So I won't be satisfied unless I get it. Competing last year against Ethan Ewing, who was just on the Championship Tour as well as Griffin [Colapinto], who qualified for 2018, has definitely given me a lot of added confidence."
After taking out the Australia/Oceania Junior Qualifying Series in 2017, Australian Reef Heazlewood comes into the WSL Jeep Junior Championships as a hot favorite. A Quarterfinal finish at last year's event was a great result for the stylish goofyfooter, but he will be hoping to go a few steps further when competition gets underway this week.
"I've spent a lot of time in the Kiama region for events over the last few years, so I'd say I feel relatively comfortable here," said Heazlewood. "To come away with a fifth place in this event last year felt epic and I'll hopefully bring that and the Pro Junior event experience as well as into the event this year. I've been doing a lot of training while I'm here and that's helped me a lot in preparing for this event."
Current women's WSL Junior Champion Macy Callaghan of Australia will be looking to go back-to-back in Kiama and continue her roll from last year. "I can't wait for the event to kick off this year," said Callaghan. "Last year was such a dream run for me and really gave me a helpful leg up to get the ball rolling on the Qualifying Series. Hopefully the waves cooperate and I can put together another good result."
2017 WSL Jeep World Junior Championships Men's Round One Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Samuel Pupo(BRA), Ryland Rubens(USA), Marco Mignot (FRA)
Heat 2: Mateus Herdy (BRA), Mikey McDonagh (AUS), Keanu Kamiyama (JPN)
Heat 3: Rio Waida (IDN), Jake Elkington (ZAF), Ocean Macedo (HAW)
Heat 4: Barron Mamiya (HAW), Adin Masencamp (ZAF), Jhonny Guerrero Yauri (PER)
Heat 5: Finn McGill (HAW), Te Kehukehu Butler (NZL), Erwan Blouin (FRA)
Heat 6: Cody Young (HAW), Lucas Wrice (AUS), Kauli Vaast (FRA)
Heat 7: Reef Heazlewood (AUS), Momoto Tsuzuki, (JPN), Theo Julitte (FRA)
Heat 8: Liam O'Brien (AUS), Tyler Gunter (USA), Yuri Ogasawara (JPN)
Heat 9: Joh Azuchi (JPN), Joshe Faulkner (ZAF), Max Elkington (ZAF)
Heat 10: John Mel (USA), Sandon Whittaker (AUS), Eli Hanneman (HAW)
Heat 11: Yuji Nishi (JPN), Cole Houshmand (USA), Leo Paul Etienne (FRA)
Heat 12: Che Allan (BRB), Joao Chianca (BRA), Ford Van Jaarsveldt (ZAF)
2017 WSL Jeep World Junior Championships Women's Round One Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Teresa Bonvalot, (PRT), Alyssa Lock (AUS), Sophie Bell (ZAF)
Heat 2: Vahine Fierro (PYF), Kirra Pinkerton (USA) Kayla Nogueira (ZAF)
Heat 3: Macy Callaghan(AUS), Shino Matsuda (JPN), Ellie Turner (GBR)
Heat 4: Zoe McDougall (HAW), Alyssa Spencer (USA), Sol Aguirre (PER)
Heat 5: Minori Kawai(JPN), Zahli Kelly (AUS), Sara Wakita (JPN)
Heat 6: Summer Macedo (HAW), Sophia Fulton (AUS), Taina Hinckel (BRA)