2009 ISA World Junior Championships 

A powerful 6-8 foot south swell slammed into la FAE beach today making for challenging conditions for surfers at the 2009 Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships. Amazing performances were turned in by the world's best young surfers as they bravely fought through treacherous currents and clean up sets.

“We had some high scores today but for most of the competitors, it was really difficult,” said Contest Announcer Gary Linden. “La FAE is one of the most consistent waves in Ecuador because it is the most exposed. When it gets big, it is often too big. In most contests, you are always hoping the swell will come up but in this one we are hoping it backs down some. Tomorrow and through the weekend will be really good as the swell fades and these kids are able to show more performance surfing.”

Under 16 Boys teammates Carlos Muñoz and Jordan Hernandez found the right waves in their heats and showed the world today that Costa Rica is home to a stable of exciting junior surfers. The team's star, Carlos Muñoz, is surfing in both Under 18 and Under 16 division. He could potentially surf an exhausting 20 heats this week.

The competition has gotten much tighter as the event continues on to the later rounds. Heat three of the Boys Under 16 was stacked with the future of surfing's powerhouses as South Africans David Brand and Mikey February faced USA's Kolohe Andino and Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau. In the end Brand took the win, followed by Andino for second, and February and Lau in third and fourth, falling to the repercharge rounds.

The standout of the day for the Under 16 Boys was Hawaii's Keanu Asing. His experience in bigger waves proved to be advantageous in today's conditions. Taking off on a solid 8 foot wave, Asing put together a combination of beautiful backhand turns, connecting to the inside and finishing off with a few more solid hacks in the shorebreak.

The French team currently leads the Under 18 Girls division with all four surfers still in the main rounds. Teammates Canelle Bulard and Justine Dupont ended up in the same heat today, but were able to both advance, taking first and second over Peruvian Nadja de Col and New Zealand surfer Rosa Thompson. French surfers Johanne Defay and Marie Dejean also made it through their heats to advance on to round four.


Malibu High School 

The Golden State Regional Championships, the second event of the 2009 Red Bull Riders Cup season, took place this week in Ventura, California.  This stop of the Red Bull Riders Cup, the nations' premier high school surfing competition, saw The Golden State region's best high school surfers battle it out in fun but challenging conditions.  Participating high schools included Ventura High, Santa Barbra High, Carpinteria High and Malibu High School.  The week's competition varied from major whitewashes to nail biting close finishes but was fierce at all times.  In a repeat of last year's regional title, it was Malibu High snatching victory and taking the win over Carpinteria High.  Malibu has now booked a spot in the Red Bull Riders Cup National Championship, which will be held on June 6-7 at Upper Trestles in San Clemente.  The series now moves east to central Florida's Pelican Beach Park on March 31 - April 2.

After a very close call in Wednesday's game where Malibu squeaked by local favorites Ventura by only 0.5 points, Malibu was lucky to even make the regional championship finals.  Carpinteria, on the other hand, breezed by Santa Barbra in their first game on Tuesday but even as defending champions, went into the final as underdogs with multiple time MVP and national rising star Conner Coffin being sidelined with a fever after Tuesdays qualifier.

Sunny conditions and waist-to-chest high sets greeted the finalists in the much anticipated match-up.  Malibu won the toss and chose to get into the water and surf first.  After a low scoring opening exchange of waves, Malibu picked up the pace and put through solid scores as the period progressed.  With only two minutes remaining in the first period and already a solid 20.5 on the board, Malibu decided to take their second time-out.  After time resumed, and with only 30 seconds remaining, a genius decision was made to sub in sophomore Skyler Lawson, who scratched into a wave and squeezed everything out of it, posting a period high score of 7.0 to bring Malibu's first period total to 24 points.   

This set the stage for a very tough battle for Carpinteria.   With Conner Coffin out, they had no substitution players and had to rely heavily on all their team members to catch high scoring waves.  Kokoro Tomatsuri opened the first period on the right track, posting a 7.0, but with Dustin Letinsky the only other Carpinteria surfer able to manage a score over 5 points, the team fell drastically short of Malibu's first period total and trailed by 6.5 points.

In the second period however, with only Conrad Car posting a score higher than 5 for Malibu with a 7.5, and a heat total of only 19 points, Carpinteria was given a slight chance to make a comeback.  Carpinteria rose to the challenge and improved on their first period performance, equaling Malibu's second period total by posting 19 points.  Still trailing, they needed a miracle in the final period if they were to have a chance to win.

This time Malibu was taking no chances and in their final period Conrad Car, Skyler Lawson and lone female team member and Wednesday's MVP Chandler Parr all posted high scores to shut the door with a game high 25 points.  This bought their total to 68 points, leaving Carpinteria the daunting task of scoring 32 points to win the game.

Carpinteria's Kokoro Tomatsuri and Dustin Letinsky put up a good fight with solid final period waves, but in the end, team depth and the loss of Conner Coffin showed through and proved the difference, with Malibu taking the win by 13.5 points.

In a show of great sportsmanship during the presentation ceremony, Malibu High gave a victorious chant in their rival's name, yelling "CARP!" with all hands in.  While MVP Skyler Lawson celebrated in the parking lot with a joyous "We won!" it was Malibu coach Rich Lawson who had the last word, reminding his team "we still have some more to win," referring to their shot at the Red Bull Riders Cup National Championships on June 6-7 at Trestles. 


ISA World Junior Championships 

The surf picked up today, with the south swell making its first solid appearance at the third day of competition of the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship in Salinas, Ecuador. The left point at La FAE offered super fun four-to-five foot surf all day and Under 18 Girls and Under 16 Boys finished Round two. The Under 18 Boys also faced off on the south end of the beach at the secondary contest area for Round three and for the grueling, “life or death,” repercharge rounds. Today saw some of the highest scores of the event as well as the first eliminations of the contest with 32 surfers exiting the competition.

“We had amazing waves today and so many of these kids really stepped up their game,” said web commentator and 1989 ASP world champion, Martin Potter. “We saw the future of surfing come to Ecuador.”

While all of the powerhouses have all team members still in the contest, 2005 event champions, Hawaii leads with nine surfers still in the main rounds. France and 2003 event champions Brazil are tied with eight a piece, while Australia has seven, the USA six and South Africa five.

The Hawaiians and the USA team went head-to-head in nearly every heat today. The teams have one of the greatest rivalries in surfing since the ISA recognizes Hawaii as its own nation because of the state’s historical contribution to the sport. In the end, Hawaii claimed the victory flag for the day but with all of USA still in contention it remains very much uncertain as to which team will finish higher at the end of the contest.

French Under 18 Girls surfer Canelle Bulard set the pace this morning, posting a combined 17.17 (out of 20), the second highest score of the entire contest. She kicked out early on her first two waves, each scoring under 1.0, but then found her spot on one of the larger sets, scoring an 8.0 as she demolished the wave on her forehand. As if that wasn’t enough, on Bullard’s next wave she posted a 9.17 to put the nail in the coffin.

“The heat was really good and I was able to catch two set waves,” said Bulard. “I felt like I surfed them to my ability. My coach told me where to sit and he was right, the waves came my way. Our team is really strong and working together. Everyone is giving me good advice.”

Last year’s gold medalist and Roxy team rider Laura Enever of Australia posted an impressive 16.66 total points for the win in heat five. Hawaiian Leila Hurst and USA’s Lakey Peterson each had high scores for first and second respectively in heat six, while South African Bianca Buitendag continued her quest for gold with her win in heat seven.

Brazil made a strong showing in the Under 16 division with three of their four surfers taking first. Tahitian Mihimana finished in second in heat two behind Brazil’s Caio Ibelli while the rest of the Tahitians Under 16 teammates were relegated to the repercharges.