Competition has continued at the WSL World Junior Championships as part of the 2019 Taiwan Open of Surfing with Men's Round 2 and four heats of Round 3 being run in solid and wind-affected surf at Jinzun Harbour. With the opening heats of Round 3 being run, the first four spots for the Men's Quarterfinals have been filled.
Japan's Joh Azuchi is no stranger of the WSL World Junior Championships with this being his third tilt at the trophy. In 2017, the explosive young natural footer made it all the way to the final, where he went down to Finn McGill and finished second in the world. In 2019, Azuchi has made his intentions in Taiwan clear, and that's to go one step further and clinch his maiden World Junior Title and set himself a spot on the 2020 Challenger Series.
"It's always good surfing in Taiwan," Azuchi said. "There are always waves and a lot of opportunity for competitors. I came to the Taiwan Open with hopes of winning both the QS3,000 and the World Juniors to ensure myself a spot in the Challenger Series events next year. As I didn't get a result in the 3000, I'm really focused on winning the World Juniors."
Tahitian Kauli Vaast continued to storm towards Finals Day, taking down fancied Australian representative Dakoda Walters in Heat 2 of Round 3. Walters opted to surf the wind-blown rights, looking for opportunities to take to the sky, while Vaast got busy on the face of the lefts. Once Kauli had the lead and priority, he stalked the line up to ensure Walters didn't have any shot at locking in a score and succeeded in doing so, sending Walters packing in equal 9th place.
"That heat was really stressful heat because we were nowhere near each other, so I didn't know if he was getting good waves or not," Vaast said. "Once I had my scores I could try and exercise my priority which was nerve-racking again because he could easily get a score on an inside wave with a big air or something. When I let him take the last wave I was willing because if there was one that was better behind it I'd have it instead of him. I'm stoked to make it into the Quarterfinals."
Heat 3 of Round 4 was one of the most exciting matchups on paper as two of the form surfers of the event in Luke Slijpen and Kade Matson went head-to-head at Jinzun Harbour. Both surfers opened their accounts early but struggled to find backups leaving the much-anticipated heat to come down as a battle of average scores. Luckily for Matson, he was able to grab the leads in the dying seconds with a modest 3.50 and moves into the Quarterfinals.
"That was such a heavy heat," Matson said. "It was so hard to find a wave out there and know where to sit. I was surfing while the event was on hold and I swear it was so much better than that. I don't know if the wind or tide changed or something but it was tough out there. I'm glad to have made it through that one and hope the swell keeps coming because I'm loving these lefts. Going left is definitely a strength of mine so I'm stoked with the waves here in Taiwan."
In the final heat of the day, Tane Bowden put on an epic performance to overcome one of the event favourites in Californian Crosby Colapinto. Colapinto didn't make it easy, scoring an 8.50 on a solid lefthander for a series of huge backhand hits. Bowden answered with an 8.17 for a seamless frontside carve to crack combination and finished the heat in top spot.
Earlier in the day, South African duo Eli Beukes and Luke Slijpen put on the performances of the day with Slijpen scoring a two-wave total of 16.66 for his diverse display of power and progression at Jinzun Harbour. Beukes boosted a huge full rotation air-reverse to post a 9.17 in his heat. Eventually, Slijpen was eliminated but Beukes is yet to surf his Round 3 heat.
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.