Sasha Donnanno: vertical align | Photo: ISA/Rommel Gonzales

Team France is leading the charge at the 2014 ISA World Junior Surfing Championship (WJSC), in five-to-eight foot waves Ecuador.

With repechage heats, it's a "do-or-die" moment for many surfers in the world's largest junior surfing competition.

Josh Moniz, defending Boys Under 18 gold medalist, was eliminated from the contest. Another casualty was one of the event favorites, Noe Mar McGonagle from Costa Rica, who came close to a gold medal in 2012.

 

After five days of competition, the French team has only lost one of their 12 athletes so far. Following close behind are Australia and Hawaii.

The host country, Ecuador, is sitting in 12th place after losing all of their athletes except Esnaider Parrales, who is keeping the hopes alive for the local team in the Boys Under 18.

Leonardo Fioravanti, from Italy, was the best surfer in the Under 18 repechage. Fioravanti earned a 13.50, and defeated Costa Rica's Manuel Mesen (9.17) and Canada's lone competitor, Sean Foerster (3.73), who is now out of the Medals race.

"It's not like the qualifying round, where you lose and you get another chance so this is it; everyone's giving 100%," underlined Fioravanti.

In the Girls Under 18, despite getting off to a great start in her Round 3 heat, USA's Frankie Harrer, was sent home in her repechage Round 4 heat.

The standout of this round was Australia's Holly Wawn, a member of the 2013 Australia Gold Medal Team, who earned the highest heat total of 9.33.