Huge crowds flocked to Manly Beach, soaking up the perfect summer weather, on a cracking day two of the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing.
At the end of two days of non-stop surfing, the junior girls finalists for 2015 were decided – with Isabella Nichols of Coolum Beach, Queensland and Macy Callaghan from Avoca on the mid coast of NSW securing a finals berth.
Nichols took a major win in her semi-final heat, eliminating reigning World Junior Champion Mahina Maeda of Hawaii (Sunset Beach). Maeda has been in sizzling form these past few months. She won the World Junior Title in Portugal late last year and has already won a QS6000 open even in China held in mid-January. But today, Nichols did enough at Manly to win her way into her first-ever WSL (World Surf League) junior tour final.
“To now be in the final feels amazing,” said Nichols. “The surf today is what my home break is like all the time, so I felt really comfortable out there. I just tried to wait for the bigger waves and do some turns — it can be hard work, but it’s worth it, it feels great now to be in the final.”
Macy Callaghan also lit up the beach to earn her final’s berth. She drew the 2013 World Junior Champion, Ella Williams (Whangamata, NZ) in her Quarter Final heat and outsurfed her experienced rival.
Callaghan is just 14 years of age, but is already a back-to-back Australian title-holder. She won the U/16 division in West Australia in December and the U/14 division the year previous. She also excels at Surf Life Saving disciplines and has State Titles in iron-women and board relay events.
Pretty safe to say the decider between these two young Aussie contenders will be a neck-and-neck battle. The Hurley Australian Open of Surfing Women’s Pro Junior Final is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
Defending Hurley Australian Open of Surfing Men’s Pro Junior Champion, Jacob Willcox (Margaret River, WA, AUS), is on track for back-to-back titles after a successful campaign today. In Round 4, he beat Luke Hynd (Burleigh Heads, QLD, AUS) and Jack Duggan (Sunshine Coast, QLD AUS), and continued his campaign to the finals by eliminating Hawaiian star Josh Moniz in the Quarter Final.
Moniz was looking good after landing some early aerials to post some mid-range scores, but Willcox dug deep in the last two minutes, obtaining priority then using it to find a wave and post the highest single wave score of the clash – an 8.5 out of a possible 10 – to snatch victory.
“As soon as Josh let priority go near the end I knew I was still in with a chance. I remember this day last year; I was thinking how good it would be to be one of the last four guys in the event. It’s been a massive day, I’ve surfed three heats so I’m pretty tired, but I’m really happy,” said Willcox.
Kanoa Igarashi (Huntington Beach, CA, USA) showed why he is one of the most successful stars of the American junior surf scene, completely dominating his Quarter Final against local surfer Jordy Lawler (Narrabeen, NSW, AUS).
Young Igarashi showed complete confidence by surfing lightning fast in the small conditions. Every wave Igarashi caught against Lawler was an improvement on his last. Igarashi’s final heat total of 17.75pts left the local goofy footer requiring an impossible two-wave combination to catch him and he hit the beach a favourite heading into Wednesday’s Semis.
His secret? His amazing new surfboard …
“This is probably the best board I’ve ever had!” Igarashi said. “I got it made in a rush right before I came here and my sponsor was able to do some magic for me. I’m super excited to be into the Semis.”
The other two semi-finalists in the junior boys division are Sheldon Simkus (Gold Coast, QLD, AUS) and Harry Bryant (Noosa, QLD, AUS).