Dax McGill: tasting gold for the first time

Team Hawaii has conquered the 2012 ISA World Junior Surfing Championship, in a thrilling final day of competition at Playa Venao, Panama, after winning two of three individual Gold Medals.

Two of the youngest Hawaiians on the team, 14-year-old Dax McGill (competing in Girls Under-18) and 14-year-old Kalani David (Boys Under-16) carried the Aloha State flag proudly as they were chaired up the beach by teammates after winning their respective divisions.

Brazil’s Matheus Navarro, one of the most dynamic, entertaining and innovative surfers of the event, won the Gold Medal in Boys Under-18. The entire podium in this division spoke Portuguese, as Deivid Silva and Vasco Ribeiro secured silver and bronze. Watch the final highlights.

"We’ve had such a beautiful event, and there’s a game going on here, and you do want to win, but that’s kind of far from the focus right now. I’m very proud of all the girls," said Hayes, who’s been coaching Team Hawaii for 17 years.

"I told them to go play, go surf, show what you can do. In the end, if you’ve got to take a look at [tactical] situations, that’s fine, but you girls need to go get on waves worth riding and really perform. You’ve earned everything that’s come to you thus far."

"I’m on top of world right now," said McGill, after the heat, the Hawaiian flag draped over her shoulders and a Cheshire cat grin stretching from freckled cheek to freckled cheek.

"Thank you to everybody who’s ever supported me. I’m so stoked right now! This is my first year doing ISA and I never thought I could ever make it this far, but I just did – I proved myself wrong."

In the last two days, Kalani David really began to display the array of aerial maneuvers that has made him one of the most talked-about surfers of his generation. Wave after wave, aerial after aerial he built the foundation of a Gold Medal-winning score (13.50).

"I woke up really sick this morning. I drank a lot of Vitamin C all morning and watched a lot of surf movies to get ready,” David said. "I’m super stoked right now. It means the world to me to win the Gold Medal. Being in a contest with junior surfers from all around the world, it definitely is something I’ll remember forever."

David’s Gold Medal performance, along with Josh Moniz’s Copper Medal solidified Team Hawaii’s position atop the standings. Japan’s Takumi Nakamura finished in second to win the Silver Medal, while Costa Rica’s Noe Mar McGonagle won the Bronze.

In the final heat of the day and the eight-day event, the last celebration was reserved for Team Brazil. Fighting for position in the team standings, the Brazilians had two surfers aiming for Gold in Boys Under-18. It just so happened that the two surfers, Matheus Navarro and Deivid Silva, were among the most dynamic surfers in the event.

While Portugal’s Vasco Ribeiro (Bronze Medal) and Australia’s Joshua Hay (Copper Medal), put up a noble effort, the Final was an all-star performance by the two Brazilians, exchanging first and second position on several occasions.

With the final minutes of the clock ticking away, the two had an exchange that represented the type of surfing they’d done all week. On a right-hand wave, Silva found speed in unexpected places, floating over multiple closeout sections before landing a backside reverse with no grab, for a 9.33.

A short while later, the regular-footed Navarro – who needed an 8.3 to catch Silva – found a long right and executed every maneuver he could think of. He mixed vertical snaps with polished, swooping turns and closed the wave with a two-hand first-pump.

His excitement, and that of the Brazilian team – which went running down the beach toward Navarro – were justified. The judges awarded him an 8.43, which was just enough to move him into the Gold Medal position, with a two-wave total of 16.90. Silva finished in the Silver Medal spot with a 16.80.

"It was a really long week, I think I competed in over 10 heats and made it all the way to the final. I lost in the second round and fell to the Repechage, so it was really tough to face that. But one of the coaches told me that in this event in Portugal 2007, Jadson Andre had the same luck and ended up winning the Gold," said Navarro, who carried up the beach by his team as the new ISA World Junior Champion.

Girls Under-18 Final
Gold: Dax McGill (HAW) – 12.60
Silver: Ellie Jean Coffey (AUS) – 9.20
Bronze: Tatiana W-Webb (HAW) – 8.53
Copper: Mahina Maeda (HAW) – 8.24

Boys Under-16 Final
Gold: Kalani David (HAW) – 13.50
Silver: Takumi Nakamura (JPN) – 13.40
Bronze: Noe Mar McGonagle (CRC) – 11.34
Copper: Josh Moniz (HAW) – 11.17

Boys Under-18 Final
Gold: Matheus Navarro (BRA) – 16.93
Silver: Deivid Silva (BRA) – 16.83
Bronze: Vasco Ribeiro (POR) – 11.77
Copper: Joshua Hay (AUS) – 11.37

Final ISA World Juniors Team Ranking
Gold: Hawaii
Silver: Australia
Bronze: Brazil
Copper: USA
5. Japan
6. France
7. Peru
8. Portugal
9. South Africa
10. New Zealand
11. Costa Rica
12. Tahiti
13. Argentina
14. Great Britain
15. Venezuela
16. Barbados
17. Panama
18. Mexico
19. Germany
20. Ecuador
21. Uruguay
22. Puerto Rico
23. El Salvador
24. Spain
25. Guatemala
26. Jamaica
27. Italy
28. Chile
29. Canada
30. Switzerland
31. Nicaragua