Spectators and competitors were treated to more beautiful Soup Bowl conditions on opening day of the Live Like Zander Junior Pro In M for their opening affairs. Three-to-four foot, occasional plus sets streamed into the world-class reefbreak with competition pushing through Round 1 and 2 of the men's, as well as Round 1 and Quarterfinals of the women. The Thomo QS 1,000 In Memory of Bill Thomson was called off for the day.
World Junior Championship spots are on the line for both men and women, and rare mistakes were made from those in contention to continue their hunt.
Pro Junior Men Relish in Pristine Soup Bowl Conditions
Taro Watanabe may be in a win-all situation, but he put that aside and unleashed the men's highest single-wave score of the day -- a near-perfect 9.50 under priority to secure a Round 2 win. Watanabe has the opportunity to capitalize if one of the Top 6 competitors falters, but understands it's a heavy order.
"It was a little slow in our heat, but it's still really fun out there and it felt good to get a score like that right away," Watanabe said. "You just had to be patient because there were some super clean ones coming through to unload on. Last year was pretty small so it's great to see more swell and I'm so excited to be here. It's pretty hard for me to get into Worlds having to win it if anything so I'm not even thinking about it and going out to have some fun while I'm here."
Guadalupe Raised, Soup Bowl Ready: Thomas Debierre
Round 1 witnessed fireworks in Heat 2 with Guadalupe's Thomas Debierre posting a 16.67 heat total and carried that momentum into an advancing spot behind Crosby Colapinto in Round 2. The European competitor revels in the opportunity to contest near home, particularly with prime Soup Bowl on offer and frequents the island on a regular basis.
"It's pretty cool to get that kind of result to start off being my first time in this event since I usually compete in the Europe events," Diberre said. "I love the opportunity to compete against new guys and get used to it since I'll be seeing these guys a lot in the future. Especially here, this wave is world-class and it's so good all the time even when it's smaller or has some wind, it's still fun. I hope it only gets better and we see the big barrels it's really known for."
Race for the Top 4 is ON
North America's premier talents are locked in a battle for the remaining Top 4 spots with Soup Bowl providing the perfect canvas for their bouts. The race resumed in Round 2 as No. 2 Colapinto, No. 3 Kade Matson, No. 4 Bo Raynor, No. 5 Eithan Osborne and No. 6 Cole Houshmand all made their debuts count.
Both Raynor and Osborne survived with clutch performances in the final minutes of their respective heats as Colapinto, Houshmand and Matson decimated their Pro Junior debuts.
Osborne's success away from the Pro Junior season unknowingly set him up in a great position as he's only adding points after getting to experience the Stab High, winning highest air, and participating in the Redbull Airborne France.
"I'm not going to surf a five-minute heat again (laughs), but there were no real sets in that heat so I figured I'd wait for the best waves after seeing some eights," Osborne said. "It helps mentally to know I can make heats when it comes down to situations like that even though I don't want to be in those positions. This is such the perfect wave for rail surfing just having so much power coming back at you. I haven't really thought too hard on what I need to do, but I know I'll need a big result."
Alan Cleland Clings to Make His Dream A Reality
Only Chase Modelski fell short of an advancing place as an outside contender with Tommy Coleman and Alan Cleland still in the running. But, an all-important Quarterfinal draw awaits with contenders still in the mix unless they secure a spot into the Semifinals.
"I found that one toward the end for two good turns which made all the difference," Cleland said. "In those situations you don't think about the time and just wait for the wave, and if it doesn't come in it doesn't come in. This is the time. Go big or go home and I'm going to do my best to take the win for a shot at Taiwan but you can't forget to have fun, that's what it's all about."
Max Beach Breaks Through to Quarterfinals
Max Beach topped 2018 North America Regional Champ Tyler Gunter in a rousing battle including Kyle Tester and Barbados' Axe Garrett. The San Clemente, California, native went from first-place to third entering the final ten minutes before finding a gem that pushed him back to a heat win. Beach has been working with former World Tour competitor Brad Gerlach and it's been working for the 17-year-old.
"I've been working with Gerlach and without him I probably wouldn't have made that heat just with the technique we've worked on," Beach said. "I was sketched out because it happens to me so often where I have priority and I give someone a wave and they take the spot over me, which I did in that heat so I was happy to get another shot at it."
A 7:30 a.m. call will determine an 8:00 a.m. start for Quarterfinal Heat 4 of the women's Live Like Zander Junior Pro and Round 2 of the Thomo QS 1,000.
The Live Like Zander Junior Pro In Memory of Zander Venezia will run November 6 - 11 at Soup Bowl, Bathsheba, Barbados.