The Quiksilver and Roxy Junior Pro 40 launched today in fun little waves and completed the opening rounds of both the men and women's events. French, Spanish (and Basque!) and Portuguese surfers won most of the heats but a four-surfer crew coming all the way from Israel made headlines by qualifying all surfers into Round 2.
What was until just a few years ago a completely unknown destination for surf fans has now become a talent pool of young athletes, and Israel has already produced serious competitors. Case and point with Anat Lelior who has won events and surfed finals on both the Junior and QS tours, currently ranked 49th on the international Qualifying Series.
Following in Anat's footsteps are a bunch of younger surfers trying to hone their skills on the Junior tour, and so far doing remarkably well. Today in Round 1 of the Quiksilver and Roxy Junior Pro 40, four out of four (three men, one woman) managed to advance in pole or second position.
Siam Nikritin was one of them.
"I sat for like ten minutes without catching anything so it stressed me out a bit," he said. "But I know we were all in the same boat and everybody had to surf the same waves. Finally I managed to find something and I was relieved, it's hard to come all this way and face elimination in the first round."
Of course that generation didn't just come out of nowhere, and four years into the Seat Pro Netanya, it's clear how the event had a positive effect on the country's younger surfers, giving them a glimpse of professional surfing and the will to pursue a career they never thought was possible.
"Surfing is just becoming more and more popular in Israel," he said. "There has always been good surfers in Israel but I think there are more and more now and we get more opportunity to compete, and be supported to compete internationally. Having the event there changed everything for us. "
Tune in from July 17-21, 2019 and check out all the photos, videos and updates right here on worldsurfleague.com!