The 21st edition of the Billabong Junior Series presented by BOS kicked off the 10 day Ballito Pro Surf Festival on Friday with South Africa’s best U18 surfers and a contingent of international competitors opened their accounts in the World Surf League (WSL) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) events for men and women aged 18-and-under.
Competitors in the world’s longest running junior surfing series were greeted with small 0.6 to one metre waves with sunshine and light winds at Willard Beach, and the future generation of surf stars put on a show as they went to work earning prize money and precious points for the coveted Billabong Junior Series titles.
Round One consisted of four heats with Tide-Lee Ireland (Durban) and Aya Gericke (Wilderness) winning their respective heats while Indonesia’s Rio Waida and Mateus Herdy from Brazil posted victories for the internationals.
The four winners, along with heat runner’s up, Luke Thompson (Durban), Saxton Randall (Durban), Daniel Emslie (East London) and Daniel Orpen advanced to Round 2 where they will take on the seeded surfers when competition resumes on Saturday.
There were some major upsets on the day including Mexican-born South African standout Sebastian Williams who was eliminated when he couldn’t get the score he needed on his last ride. Other fancied surfers who suffered the same fate were York Van Jaarsveldt (Kommetjie), Mitch Du Preez (East London) and Brazilian Ryan Kainalo.
The top protagonists will take to the surf when Round 2 gets underway and Cape Town’s Luke Slijpen will be looking to continue the momentum from his win in the QS event in Port Elizabeth earlier this week. Others to look out for are the Jeffreys Bay duo of Angelo Faulkner and Dillon Hendricks, Capetonians Eli Beukes and Max Elkington, as well as Koby Oberholzer from Warner Beach.
In the women’s draw, international surfers like Tiana-Breeze De Mooij from New Zealand and Advah Bar Sade from Israel will join top local junior surfers Sophie Bell (Salt Rock), Zoë Steyn (East London), Kayla Nogueira (Umhlanga) and Ceara Knight (Cape Town) in a bid for glory in this competitive division.
The points each competitor earns also count towards the annual WSL Africa crowns and the selection of the squad of four men and two women who represent the WSL Africa region at the WSL World Junior Championships in Australia next January.
Full results, along with news, video footage and images can be found on www.worldsurfleague.com