The World Surf League Pro Junior divisions of the 2018 Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Vissla kicked off today in picturesque four-foot conditions as competitors sought to move through their opening rounds of competition.
Visiting from Portugal, Martim Paulino (PRT) showed how rounded his skills were, adapting well to the Australian beach break conditions. Paulino found a handful of punchy righthand waves to notch up an excellent 8.07 wave score, which gave him the upper hand against current Australian Pro Junior Series leader Callum Robson (Evans Head, NSW) who was forced to settle for second place.
"This is such a good comp, so it was a huge relief to get through my first heat," said Paulino. "I stayed in Lennox Head last year and surfed this beach a bit and I find it really fun. My whole goal in this event was just to surf as good as I possibly could and have fun."
Jaggar Bartholomew (Coolangatta, Qld) dominated competition today, posting the highest two-wave heat total of the event thus far, 17.6 (out of a possible 20 points). Having received years of tutelage from his father, 1978 World Champion Wayne ‘Rabbit' Bartholomew, Jaggar nailed a lightning fast mix of snaps and carves to leave his fellow rivals needing two-wave combinations to take away his lead. Bartholomew will face current Australasian Junior Series leader Callum Robson, Jackson Roberts (Bateau Bay, NSW) and George Pittar (Manly, NSW) in round two.
"The waves were pumping for my heat, so I'm frothing to be able to get the win," said Bartholomew. "I was a bit nervous going into that heat and thought I might have just posted a couple of waves in the six-point range, but when I came in was surprised to hear I got an 8.5 and a 9.1. My goal for 2018 was to make the top four and qualify for the World Juniors, but I got a bit sick and had a few shocking results, so I'll be aiming for that next year now."
Currently surfing in her last year on the Australia/Oceania Pro Junior Series, India Robinson (Jan Juc, Vic) is hoping for a decent result to move up the rankings and put herself in with a fighting chance of qualifying for the 2018 World Junior Championship. In some relatively lacklustre afternoon conditions, Robinson found a handful of diamonds in the rough to post a respectable 11.5 heat total and earn a spot into the Semifinals.
"It's always such a relief to get the first heat out of the way," said Robinson. "My whole tactic was trying to find a few waves that had little corners on them as I knew they'd hit the bank better and that a two-turn wave would get a better score. At the moment I'm really trying to not put too much pressure on myself and learn as I go. My brother [Cody] won a Pro Junior here a few years back, so it'd be nice to say I'd done the same."
Also winning their women's Quarterfinal heats was Sophia Fulton (Mollymook, NSW), Piper Harrison (Coolangatta, NSW) and Zahli Kelly (Cabarita, NSW) who will also join Robinson in the Semifinals.
The six-day event will run from 13 July -18 July and will comprise of a World Surf League (WSL) sanctioned Pro Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) event as well as an elite competition for promising grommets in the 12, 14 and 16 year age divisions.
In a similar vein to preceding years - where the event has attracted surfers from ten different countries - a full international field is again expected in 2018 with surfers coming from as far away as Europe, USA and Japan to make up a field of more than 220 surfers across all divisions.
All event divisions will be broadcast live on skullcandyozgromopen.com.au
The 2018 Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Vissla is proudly supported by Skullcandy, Vissla, Ballina Shire Council, Le-Ba Boardriders, WSL and Surfing NSW.