The penultimate day of the Taiwan Open of Surfing has seen the remaining heats of the Men's World Junior Championships Round 3 along with Round 4 completed in windswept and bumpy conditions at Jinzun Harbour. The top juniors in the world made the less than ideal conditions look incredible with some epic performances and big heat totals going down on Day 6.
Mateus Herdy hit the water in a contest jersey for the first time since Round 1 back on Monday -- the opening day of the event window. The Brazilian prodigy's excitement to compete once again was evident as he won through Round 3 with the highest heat total of the Men's event so far, an 18.00 point two-wave combination for a series of searing turns and massive full rotation air reverses. He continued the theatrics in Round 4 where he won his match-up to progress into the Quarterfinals along with Aussie hopeful Caleb Tancred.
"It's so windy out there today but I love it," Herdy said. "It really allows you to launch airs so it's perfect for me -- I'm happy to be surfing heats in these conditions. I'm super stoked to be through to the Quarterfinals and am really focussed on going all the way. Watching what a win at the World Junior Championships has done for the careers of Adriano de Souza and Gabriel Medina has me really inspired to take this event out."
Heat 1 of Round 4 was stacked with three of the events biggest names, Kauli Vaast, Kauli Vaast and Eithan Osborne fighting for a spot in the Quarterfinals, and the performances didn't disappoint with all competitors going for broke in the tough conditions to post respectable scores. In the end it was Pupo who took the heat win, posting a 9.60 (out of a possible 10) for two air-reverses on the one wave; it was the highest single wave score of the event so far. Pupo progresses into the Quarterfinals with Osborne, leaving Vaast to be eliminated in equal 9th place.
"The last wave felt really good," Pupo said. "I was pretty nervous as both of those guys could drop a perfect score for a big air at any minute so I knew I would have to go big. Luckily that wave at the end gave me 3 epic sections so I could go big. Mateus (Herdy) and I have been talking about taking the Title out for Brazil so I'm stoked to be into the Quarterfinals once again."
Kiwi Te Kehukehu Butler continued his march towards finals day in Taiwan, taking down Hawaii's Cole Alves and event Top SeedJoh Azuchi in Heat 2 of Round 4. While competitors launched into the strong cross-shore winds, Butler, the Australia / Oceania regional JQS winner, opted to stick to the wave face and carve his way to a heat total of 13.14. Butler progresses into the Quarterfinals with Alves while top seed Azuchi is eliminated.
"Everyone has been launching huge airs but I thought I'd stay on the water and that seemed to work so I'm happy," Butler said. "The wind is really good for airs but it can also push up awesome turn sections so either approach can work. I haven't made it past Round 2 at the last couple of World Juniors so I'm really proud to be in the Quarterfinals. I hope I can show that there is an opportunity for other kids of Islander and Maori background to succeed in surfing."
Round 4 Heat 3 was dominated by Rio Waida and Yuji Nishi, who were both posting good and excellent scores to progress in first and second place, putting their opponent Eduardo Motta in a combination situation (needing two scores). Waida and Nishi will now move into the final day with the hopes of making history and becoming the first WSL World Champion from their respective homelands of Indonesia and Japan.