OFFICIAL ISA PRESS RELEASE:
(Salinas, Ecuador) April 3, 2009 – The world’s best junior surfers fought tooth and nail in do-or-die elimination heats on day six of the 2009 Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships in Salinas, Ecuador. Many surfers made the 300 meter paddle out to the lineup three separate times and performances were through the roof.
After six days of competition and 294 heats, only 40 surfers remain in the competition. When the dust had settled on today’s action, 2005 ISA World Junior Champion Hawaii led the team standings followed by France, South Africa, the USA and Brazil. Three-time defending champion Australia suffered a series of devasting losses to its top prospects and went from first yesterday to sixth today. Still with only 700 points separating Australia from Hawaii, all six teams at the top still have a chance at the gold.
Other teams like Peru might not be in team medal contention, but their surfers are making a strong push for individual medals. This afternoon, despite tired legs from having surfed three times, Peruvian surfer Carlos Mario Zapata had the beach and his Peruvian team in uproar as he posted the highest score of the competition, a 9.77, in his round six repercharge heat. Within the hour, exemplary French surfer Canelle Bulard matched it with her own 9.77 to show the world the stunning level of talent in this year’s Under 18 Girls division.
USA team member Conner Coffin was able to regain his composure after a difficult loss earlier this morning on the secondary contest site. In today’s last Boys Under 16 repercharge heat, facing tough competition, Conner waited for the right waves and posted a searing 9.17 ride to take first place over Brazil’s Caio Ibelli, Australian Dylan Cummings and Peruvian Cristobal de Col.
“I was nervous going into the heat today – it could’ve been my last. It’s no playground out there,” said Coffin. “I spent the day relaxing on the beach, trying to focus, watch the conditions and get ready. Once I got in the water, I knew I had to wait for the right wave. I got lucky, everyone really wants it and they are surfing incredibly well.”
Costa Rican surfer and recipient of the 2009 ISA Scholarship Award, Carlos Munoz has been competing in two divisions this year. Having back-to-back heats today, he won his Under 16 heat and then had to run 300 meters up for his first round of Under 18 repercharges. Munoz, exhausted, was unfortunately only able to get one wave and finished fourth to Australian Dean Bowen, Brazilian Tiago Guimaraes, and Tahitian Teiki Charles. Munoz will continue in the main rounds of Under 16 Boys tomorrow.
Many teams found themselves with two surfers in the same heat today. In repercharge round six, heat one, South Africans David Brand and Mikey February went one and two over Tahitian Mihimana Braye and Costa Rica’s Jordan Hernandez. Tomorrow, Brand will face off against Coffin and Zapata in heat one, and Brand will meet Hawaii’s Keanu Asing and Brazilian Caio Ibelli in heat two.
For Australians in the Under 18 Boys division, Dean Bowen and James Woods had to fight together against Tahitian Ariimoana David and South African Dale Staples. They both stayed alive to advance finishing first and second in round five.
Round six, also held today, proved to be an unfortunate one for Australia as Woods took the exit card with a third place in his heat against USA surfer Nat Young, New Zealander Matt Hewitt and Hawaiian Albee Layer. For the first half of the heat, not one surfer caught a single wave and contest organizers contemplated a restart. In the closing five minutes, a great set came through and Young was able to prevail as the heat winner followed by Hewitt in second, Woods in third and Layer in fourth.
Australia also lost superstar and gold medal hopeful Garrett Parkes. Brazil’s Felipe Braz and Medi Veminardi from France placed first and second to advance.
In the Girl Under 18 elimination repercharge rounds today, South African Bianca Buitendag continued to stay alive, taking second in her heat to advance on. She will face USA team members Courtney Conlogue and Lani Doherty tomorrow in the semi-final repercharges. The last remaining Portuguese surfer, Ana Sarmento, finished fourth in her heat to place equal 16th overall.
Local Ecuadorians Johnatan Zambrano and Fabio Dapelo placed third in their heats today to finish equal 25th, the highest place any Ecuadorian has achieved an ISA World Junior event. Moroccan surfer Ramzi Boukhiam also finished equal 25th today.
The day finished with the heads of the Ecuadorian Department of Tourism, Transportation and Environment visiting the contest site at la FAE and experiencing the contest with ISA President Fernando Aguerre. Veronica Sion, Ecuadorian Minister of Tourism commented, saying, “I am really happy because of the alliance we have between the tourism department, surfing and the surfing federation FES. I really see this sport as an important part of the tourism development in Ecuador. We have close to 100 surf spots in Ecuador and as head of the Department of Tourism I can say undoubtedly say, we want to increase the support we give to the surfing in Ecuador.”
Competitors will be back tomorrow for round seven of Under 18 Boys, Under 18 Girls and Under 16 Boys as well as eight rounds of repercharges and the Aloha Cup Semi-Finals, a specialty tag team event. The swell is expected to continue to hold through the weekend for the finals. Competition will resume tomorrow at 8:00am at Playa de las FAE beach in Salinas, Ecuador.
For more information on the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship, LIVE web, free photos and on-demand video highlights, visit quiksilver.com/isa.
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