Day one of the Hydralyte Sports Shoalhaven Pro Junior saw an exciting day of action as the first rounds of boys kicked off in difficult and bumpy two-foot surf. Adding to the excitement was the fact that nine of the top-ten rated male surfers on the WSL Australia / Oceania Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) rankings advanced through the opening round of competition.
Currently sitting in 17th position on the junior rankings, George Pittar appeared more than eager to improve his placing as he annihilated an array of sections in his opening heat. Pittar was able to gain the edge in the heat thanks to a respectable 7.60 wave score to take the heat over impressive goofy-footer Hinata Aizawa.
"The waves were surprisingly pretty consistent in that heat," said Pittar. "Thankfully I managed to find a wide righthander that ran perfectly along the bank and I got that 7.60. I really hope to have a bit of a charge in these last three junior events of the year and improve my ranking."
After a slow start to the 2018 JQS season, Tane Bowden is eager to jump the rankings with a good result at Shoalhaven. Bowden got the ball rolling well in his opening exchange as he nailed an impressive 7.00 ride to get the upper hand over Xavier Huxtable and local surfer Navryn Watson. Bowden executed an eclectic mix of sharp snaps and carves to take the heat win and earn a spot in the second round where he'll meet Taj Watson, Hinata Aizawa and Boston Phillips.
"After driving 11 hours from the Gold Coast to here, it's definitely nice to get through the first heat," said Bowden. "There were rumours that the surf was going to be six-foot, so to see it this small was a bit disappointing but it was still really fun. My goal was to qualify for the 2018 World Juniors, but I haven't had the best start to the year, hopefully, I can improve that in the last three events of the year."
Visiting American surfer Jett Schilling appeared to be looking down the barrel of a first-round elimination as he sat in third position in the final minutes of his round one heat. However, Schilling was able to scratch into a punchy righthander in the final 30 seconds to post the mediocre score required to jump into a progressing position. Schilling progressed through the heat alongside Kyuss King who claimed the top-spot with a 13.10 two-wave heat total.
"That was such a relief to make it through that heat," said Schilling. "My game plan was to paddle out and be the deepest one on the break and get the first wave, but I ended up taking off on three average waves later in the heat. I'm so stoked I got through. I've just been training a lot with Glenn "Micro" Hall while I've been here and trying to improve my surfing as a whole, both in heats and freesurfing."
Kirra-Belle Olsson took out the AirAsia Wave of the Day for her round one performance, where she sealed herself a near-perfect 9.65 wave score in the final heat of the day.