The 2018 Taiwan Open World Junior Championships has continued today with some incredible performances at Jinzun Harbour. It was a cutthroat day of competition with the first eliminations going down in super clean 3-to-4 foot waves.
The performance of Te event so far went to WSL Australia / Oceania Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) 2018 Champion Te KekuKehu Butler, who posted a two-wave combination of 16.17 (out of a possible 20). This was the highest total of the Men's event so far and he earned it with an incredible display of power and finesse on the rail, combined with technical, fins-free surfing. Butler will progress into Round 3 where he will meet American standout Kade Matson.
"I was actually really nervous before that heat," Butler said. "I was just keen to make it out of Round 2 and get a few good waves which I was able to achieve. It's cool being over here representing New Zealand on the world stage, I'd love to bring the title home but at this stage, I just want to take it heat by heat."
Samantha Sibley (USA) put on an incredible display on day 2 posting a two-wave total of 16.67 to win her heat. This included an epic 9.00 point ride, the second highest of the event so far.
Being one of the event's top seeds, Californian Cole Houshmand was not a name you'd expect to see in Round 2 and with a chance at finishing in equal last place. The super stylish goof-footer almost met that fate as in the dying seconds of the heat, as priority mistake saw his opponent Raul Dañino (PER) take off on a wave and almost meet the required score. Fortunately for Haushmand, Raul fell just short leaving Cole to progress.
"That was really scary when he took off on that wave," Houshmand said. "I really struggled to find a wave that really let me open up so I'm glad I've got another opportunity to show what I've got. I've been really enjoying my time here in Taiwan, I'm staying with my great friends Crosby Colapinto and Tyler Gunter who are from my hometown so we're definitely feeding off each others energy."
After a close call saw him go down in Round 1, Callum Robson was keen to make amends in Round 2, even if that meant taking down fellow Aussie and good mate, Kai Tandler. The pair went wave for wave but it was Robson who found himself on the best of them, and it reflected in his scores as he went on to take a bittersweet victory.
"It's always tough coming up against another Aussie especially a mate like Kai," Robson said. "We are staying in the same house together so it would have been good to meet him in the finals but that's just surfing I suppose. I'm keen to keep going and build on my performances and I know I can -- I've got some great boards at the moment as well."
Balinese ripper Ketut Agus is fresh off a win at the recent Nias Pro QS1,000 and was awarded a Wildcard into the event for taking out the WSL Asia 2018 Regional Qualifying Series (QS). Agus' electric brand of surfing gave him a convincing win over Frenchman Mathis Crozin.
"I'm really stoked to be here at my first World Junior Championship," Agus said. "It's cool to represent Bali and Indonesia and I'm glad to get past Round 2. I'm loving the waves here in Taiwan, I feel like they really suit my surfing."
Aussie Junior Championship hopeful Alyssa Lock had a close call in her Round 2 match-up with Zoe Steyn in Heat 2 of Round 2, only narrowly overcoming the South African. Steyn held a slender lead for the entire heat, leaving Lock to scour the line-up looking for a decent wave. Only needing an average score, the young Gold Coaster took off on a right-hander and got to work like it was a Rainbow Bay runner, belting a couple of backhand snaps to finish the heat in the progressing spot. Steyn was unfortunately eliminated in equal 13th spot.
"That was much closer than I would have liked," Lock said. "It was really nerve-racking in the last few minutes but I eventually got the job done. It was almost like surfing at high tide on one of the points at home on the Gold Coast so I felt at home but I just struggled to get in a rhythm. I'm hoping I can go away from this heat and learn a bit. I'm hoping to come back and do a lot better in Round 3 -- I know I can."
Japan's Sara Wakita picked up where she left off at a recent QS6,000 in Australia, progressing through her Round 2 Heat with a strong, consistent performance. Wakita picked off the optimal waves of the heat to overcome Anat Lelior and better her equal last place result of the 2017 World Junior Championships.
"I'm so happy to make it through round 2 and better my result from last year's world juniors," Wakita said. "I was really nervous that whole heat because even though I was winning my scores weren't huge so I knew I could have been overtaken at any time. I'm enjoying surfing at this spot though, it's a really fun wave."
Other heat winners in Women's Round 2 included Kai Woolf (ZAF), Gabriela Bryan (HAW) and Keala Tomoda-Bannert (HAW).