The latest crop of talented athletes in South America were greeted to offshore winds and consistent waves in the 3-4 foot range at iconic Praia da Joaquina in Florianopolis, Brazil. The start to the third event of the Oi Pro Junior Series was marred by early elimination of the WSL Latin America rankings leaders Daniel Templar (BRA) and Daniel Adisaka (BRA) in the Men's division. Mateus Sena (BRA) who started off the day in 3rd place in the rankings moved into 2nd after advancing in his heat in the Round of 32. Sena has the opportunity to climb into 1st place with a solid result on Finals Day on Sunday.
"I felt a little out of rhythm in the beginning of the heat and got off to a slow start," declared Sena. "I saw the rankings leader get eliminated in the heat before and I got a little nervous. But I used that as a motivation and kicked things into gear. The waves have been good all day and I'd really like to win this event tomorrow and take the lead in the rankings but I don't want to get ahead of myself because there are still a bunch of talented surfers left in the draw."
Sena is coming off of a recent win at a Pro Junior event in Ceará, Brazil and is looking to keep up his momentum in the race to become the 2019 WSL Latin America Pro Junior Champion. However, to do that he'll have to overcome the next generation of hungry athletes that include Cauã Costa (BRA), Raul Dañino (PER), Kainan Meira (BRA) and local surfers Leo Casal (BRA) and Lucas Vicente (BRA) at Joaquina.
"I surf here practically every day, so I feel completely in sync with the waves and think that gives me an advantage competing at my local break, said Vicente. "That being said, I had a tough heat because it started off really slow and I didn't get a chance to surf when the first good set came in. But there were still plenty of opportunities, so I just tried not to overreact and remained patient. When the next set came, I was ready and surfed the way I've been training for. With so many ranking leaders bowing out, I knew I had to take advantage and I'm just happy that everything worked out."
Things are even more tense in the Women's division as the two available spots for the WSL World Junior Championships in Taiwan are being heavily disputed. One spot is surely going to Tainá Hinckel (BRA) who has pulled away in the rankings after winning three of the four Pro Junior events held so far. She has even opted not to compete in Florianopolis and instead chose to represent Brazil at the ISA World Surfing Games in Miyazaki, Japan.
Behind Hinckel, only 56 ranking points separate Sol Aguirre (PER) currently in 2nd place and Julia Duarte (BRA) in 3rd. Duarte is on a torrid streak reaching two consecutive Finals in Ceará and Bahia, but Aguirre won the 2017 WSL South America Pro Junior Championship and will not be easily averted. They will now face up against each other in Heat 1 of the Round of 8 on Finals Day.
Aguirre commented on her goals after her heat win on Saturday.
"I'm super happy because the waves are really good and I was able to surf really well on my frontside in my heat," said Aguirre. "I know there is still a long road ahead, so I'm going to give it my best in my next heat."
When asked about her upcoming confrontation against Duarte, Aguirre said:
"Julia is a good friend and she's been ripping, but when the horn sounds, there are no friends in the lineup. I'm super focused and I want to win this event because I want to qualify for the World Junior Championships."
The Oi Pro Junior Series is sponsored by Oi and is proud to announce equal prizemoney for each stop of the Series to reflect the groundbreaking decision implemented on the Championship Tour (CT).
Also in-line with the sustainability protocols brought forth by WSL PURE, the Oi Pro Junior Series event in Florianopolis has partnered up with the NGO Eco Local Brasil to promote environmentally-friendly activities throughout the weekend.
The 2019 Oi Pro Junior Series is broadcast live and for more info, please go to: www.worldsurfleague.com