Australians Make It Four In A Row

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Local girl Michelle Soriano driving off the bottom on a set wave. Photo: ISA/Watts

Day 5 of competition saw more solid swell in Salinas, Ecuador, which offered up a few big scores. Brazilians Miguel Pupo and Barbara Muller each scored a 9 in their heats today (9.5 for Pupo and 9.07 for Muller). Pupo’s Round 4 ringer had to be one of the better waves of the entire competition; a set wave that he weaved into, climbed up, smashed the big foam section into a mineshaft freefall (which he stomped), worked it all the way to the inside bowl and proceeded to light up on his forehand with a few solid snaps.

The repercharges got into some later rounds today as well, and having both lost heats today, U18 American competitors Coutney Conlogue and Nat Young will have to surf their way through these if they have a shot at placing this year. Tough go at it, and lots of surfing, but if any of the Americans can do it, they’re the two. And in the Boys U16 division, fellow countrymen Kolohe Andino and Conner Coffin await their Round 4 heat in the main event, being the only Americans not having to fight their way through the repercharges.

Things are set to kick off again tomorrow at 8 a.m. local Ecuador time, and it should be another exciting day of solid surf and stacked heats. Be sure to get all your updates on transworldsurf.com, and to watch it live head to quiksilver.com/isa.

BLOG FROM ECUADOR:

It’s now day five of the ISA World Juniors and I’m sitting front row with a killer view of the contest in a nicely air-conditioned press room. My skin is peeling, my trunks smell like garbage, and my whole body is covered in bug bites. Should I be complaining? Maybe…but I’m not. Why? I’m just amped to be here hanging with all the teams and occasionally getting snaked by the world’s best groms. I keep thinking that at least I’m not in my wetsuit at home freezing my tail off surfing Newport with all the grumpy locals.

Knowing Spanish really makes this event that much more thrilling. I’ve been translating for athletes and chatting it up with coaches and managers from all over the world to catch a glimpse of how the event is going on a global scale.

The other day, I cruised over to Hotel Mediterrano to hang out with team USA. The place was packed to the rim, as nearly six other powerhouse countries are posting up for the week. Somehow I managed to stumble into USA coach Joey Buran’s pep talk. This guy is one hell of a speaker and really knows how to get his kids going. He’s passionate about the sport of surfing and the importance of heat strategies as they relate to innings or quarters in any major league sport. If I was a grom, I would be pretty amped to have him as a coach.

The contest has been pretty exciting and full of surprises left and right. On day three, Domenic Barona from the girl’s Ecuadorian team managed to upset Tahiti’s Karelle Poppke within the last 30 seconds of their heat. Barona stood up and did one turn to send Poppke to the repercharge heats, further advancing herself to the next round. The crowd on the beach went crazy celebrating her second place finish as if she won the whole shebang.

Team USA is hanging strong with only a few athletes being sent to repercharge heats. Their Boys 16U division is killing with Kalohe Andino and Conner Coffin punishing the waves and competitors a-like, while Nat Young has also been coming in strong, but got sent to the repercharges yesterday in the Boys U18. Courtney Conlogue is also in top form, focused and ready to take it all in the Girls U18, though she’ll also have to make her run in the repercharges now.

I paddled out to the point at sunset last night and caught a few waves with Nat Young and Chase Wilson. Both groms were hacking away at the left like nobody’s business. -James Pham

DAY 5 VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

OFFICIAL ISA PRESS RELEASE:

(Salinas, Ecuador) April 2, 2009 – The Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship saw one of its most intense days at Playas de la FAE. The swell continued to hold up throughout the day, delivering solid overhead surf. This afternoon the Under 18 Boys returned to the competition after a lay day yesterday. Having a little extra rest and fresh legs, these future world champions turned out amazing performances in the five to six foot surf at la FAE in Salinas, Ecuador.

With their sights set on the gold medal and the prestigious ISA World Junior title, the competition was intense as 12 of the world’s best Under 18 surfers fought to stay in the main rounds of competition. Each of the four heats could have been a final match in any other junior division contest. Nine countries were represented, including past ISA World Juniors Champions Australia, Brazil and Hawaii and 2009 contenders France, South Africa, New Zealand, USA, Chile and Costa Rica.

Heat two was intense with 2007 Under 16 gold medalist Garrett Parkes of Australia up against South Africans Shaun Joubert and Matthew Bromley along with New Zealander Alex Dive. With less than five minutes in the heat, Parkes was sitting in third place and was not able to put together a decent score because he was riding a damaged board. He decided to trade out his equipment. One of the Aussie teammates ran Parkes’ backup board 300 meters up the beach, leaving Parkes with less than half the heat to get an 8.5 to advance. With only minutes remaining Parkes caught a wave and gave it everything he had, but came up just short, scoring an 8.0. Joubert and Dive advanced, relegating Parkes and Bromley to the repecharges.

In heat three of Boys Under 18 French surfer Maxime Huscenot, Brazilian Miguel Pupo, New Zealander Matt Hewitt and Costa Rican Carlos Munoz met for a grueling 20 minute bout. Within the opening minutes, Pupo and Huscenot took the lead. Huscenot grabbed the top spot with his second wave earning an 8.60 and then closed out the heat with an 8.73 for the win. Pupo placed second to advance and Hewitt and Munoz finished third and fourth respectively.

“You really had to be ive and choose only the good set waves today. The paddle back out is almost five minutes long. Having patience is almost as difficult as the surfing,” said Huscenot after his win. “This is my third ISA juniors event. We have a really good team this year and we are having a great time in Ecuador.”

Contest organizers ran four rounds of elimination repecharge heats with 88 surfers exiting the competition today. It was a difficult day for Germany and Ireland with both teams’ last remaining surfers losing their heats. Made up of 10 surfers, Germany had their largest team to date in an ISA competition. They will stay in Ecuador through the finals but will likely take advantage of the free time to check out the local sight, sounds and waves of the Salinas area.

Portuguese surfers Francisca Souza and Ana Sarmento kept their team in the Under 18 Girls as both of them made it through two rounds of repecharges today. USA surfer Kaleigh Gilchrist not only made it through both of her “do-or-die” elimination heats, but also earned the highest combined score of the competition for the Under 18 Girls with a 17.66.

Gilchrist’s wins helped lift the spirits of the USA team which had three difficult losses today. Standout Under 16 Boys surfer Evan Geiselman went down in his second repercharge heat against Peruvian Miguel Tudela, Frenchman Pierre Rollet and Venezuelan Felix Vargas. USA surfer Chase Wilson lost his heat in the Under 18 repercharges. Despite an injured ankle, Wilson was able to put two scores together but neither was big enough to advance. Fisher Heverly of the USA also lost his heat to Tahitian Haunui Aumeran and lone Nicaraguan Rex Caulderon. With three surfers exiting the competition today, the USA will have a challenging road ahead if they hope to be standing on the podium come Sunday.

Local Ecuadorians Johnatan Zambrano and Fabio Dapelo continued to charge through the repercharges today making for an exciting celebration on the sand at the southend competition area. Johnatan’s heart touching story will be included in FUEL TV’s half hour special on the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championship which will air this summer on FUEL TV.

Competitors will be back tomorrow for nine rounds of repercharges and the Under 16 Boys round four. The swell is expected to continue to hold through the weekend for the finals. Competition will resume tomorrow at 8:00 a.m. 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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