The 2019 WSL World Junior Championships have continued as part of the Taiwan Open of Surfing for day 2 of action at Jinzun Harbour. On the second day of competition, it was the women who hit the water and got busy in the early, clean three-to-four foot waves, and surfed through Rounds 1, 2 and 3 to set up the Quarterfinalists.
Reigning WSL Women's World Junior Champion Kirra Pinkerton picked up where she left off in Taiwan, dominating her opening round heat with the highest two-wave combination of the day. Pinkerton's 16.76 (out of a possible 20) came from her razor-sharp backhand approach on the long-left walls at Jinzun. Pinkerton progressed through Rounds 1 and 3, and with her performance today once again looks like the surfer to beat in Taiwan.
"After watching the surf before my heat, I thought I should focus on the rights instead of the lefts but eventually I stuck with my game plan and went to the left and it worked. Coming back as the World Champion I'm actually feeling no pressure. I worked this place out last year and am coming back with experience so I'm feeling good. Everyone is ripping in this event so it's going to be tough."
Hawaii's Gabriela Bryan has had an incredible 2019, not only taking out the Hawaii / Tahiti Nui Regional Junior Qualifying Series but also gaining a wildcard into her first Championship Tour event, the Freshwater Pro at Surf Ranch. Bryan's competitive experience was well and truly on show at Jinzun Harbour as she posted two excellent rides to win her heat with a total of 16.50 to progress into Round 3. She then finished in the runner up spot to Kirra Pinkerton to move into the Quarterfinals.
"It was such a treat to walk up this morning and see the waves pumping like this," Bryan said. "I had a bit of a slow start in that heat but eventually found my two and they ended up being pretty good. This year has been so amazing for me, especially surfing in the Fresh Water Pro. It was such a cool experience and seeing the level that all of those girls are at just made me want to work harder and get on Tour as fast as possible."
As the wind increased and conditions became more challenging at Jinzun Harbour competitors had to be mindful of wave choice if they were to book a spot into the Quarterfinals. One competitor who is sure to have plenty on her mind at the moment is Japan's Amuro Tsuzuki who could still qualify for the 2020 Championship Tour if a few things go her way at the upcoming Lululemon Maui Pro CT event. Tsuzuki will try and put that to the back of her mind as she looks to focus on the Quarterfinals here in Taiwan after she progressed through Round 3 behind an impressive Silvana Stone (HAW).
"There is nothing I can do now for my qualification, so I just have to wait for Maui to finish and see what happens," Tsuzuki said. "I'm trying not to think too much about it and just focus on doing well here in Taiwan. Today has been fun with lots of different conditions but plenty of good waves. I'm enjoying it here in Taiwan and am looking forward to the next few days."
Other quarterfinalists include Sol Aguirre who surfed through her Round 3 heat behind an on-fire Alyssa Spencer (USA) who dominated the long lefts of Jinzun Harbour. A special mention must go to 13-year-old Californian Caitlin Simmers (USA) who surfed an incredible opening day to book a spot in the Quarterfinals after her and Sara Wakita knocked out one of the event favourites in Molly Picklum (AUS).
WSL Competition and Event Directors will reconvene at Jinzun Harbour tomorrow morning to make a call on competition at 6:30 a.m.local time for a possible 7:00 a.m. start.
The Taiwan Open World Junior Championship runs from November 26 - December 1.