The 2018 European Junior season has taken the best up-and-coming surfers from the Old Continent across Portugal, France and Spain for six exciting events. Nadia Erostarbe and Marco Mignot eventually came out on top after wild up-and-downs and lead changes all year.
Erostarbe had a breakthrough season in 2016 where she finished the year ranked third in Europe but couldn't confirm the following year and only resurfaced at the beginning of 2018 with a runner-up in Espinho. The following week in Caparica, the Basque surfer was stopped in the semis but added another good result early on.
"I feel strong and ready," she said. "I've been training hard for the whole year, working out and trying to surf twice every day, so right now I feel at my best. Mentally I feel confident both in myself and my surfing."
When the French leg kicked off in La Torche, Erostarbe navigated to a fifth place in difficult conditions and redeemed herself the following week in Biscarrosse with a win, her first-ever on the WSL tours. Unfortunately it all went south when the tour hit her local grounds of Sopela and Erostarbe had to step up again in the final event in Pantin to claim a third place and her first regional title.
"I have no idea about Taiwan, and I'm super happy to get the chance to know this culture and country," she continued. "Also I'm excited to surf there, the waves look real fun. It's great to have the opportunity to finish my career as a junior in this incredible competition. I think that everyone going to the world final have an incredible level of surfing and that anyone could be the next WSL World Junior Champion."
Her main opponents all year were Melania Diaz and Anat Lelior and when the dust settled, it's the Israeli surfer who claimed the second qualifying spot for the upcoming World Junior Championships in Taiwan.
For Marco Mignot as well, it was only a matter a time before the French/Mexican surfer claimed the coveted regional title. Ranked 3rd in 2016, runner-up in 2017, his ascent to the top was a prime example of consistency and his two wins, two 3rds and two 5th places were enough to put him on top of the leaderboard for 2018.
His previous two experiences at the World Junior Championships have undoubtedly built tons of experience and Mignot will shoot for a massive result in his final appearance as a Junior. Could third time be the charm?
"I'm ready mentally and physically for this challenge," he said. "I think it's the most prepared I've been in the last two years I've participated and I have a lot of confidence so anything's possible. I'm super excited to head to Taiwan and discover a new place, I love Asia and can't wait to be there."
Find out all about the World Junior Championships from December 1-9, 2018 and catch up on all results, photos, videos, news and more right here at worldsurfleague.com and via the WSL Facebook page and app.