Field General Rainos Hayes said it best, ³With the weather comes the surf.² Not like Hawaii which is buffeted by swells from all directions, some generated thousands of miles away, Piha in New Zealand was hit straight ahead with a monster storm, rain, wind and a sea that became a virtual storm drain on Friday January 22, the second day of the ISA Quiksilver World Junior Surfing Championships.
The Verizon Wireless Hawaii Junior World Team is accustomed to plenty of power, however they also prefer and have access to relatively clean conditions. All four boys under 18 were challenged by surfers who regularly experience more chop and disorganized seas.
The waves consisted of tumbling 12-foot chop, wind, and uneven faces.
Conditions were so challenging that the officials had to initially put the event on hold until 11am, then it was decided that the older boys experience and search for a ³victory at sea.²
Quickness along with power came into play in the heat. There was no time for setting up huge blasts as surfers had to find an open slot and blast a fast bottom turn that had them flowing off the top with another quick maneuver around whitewater and cross bumps. It was challenging. The world¹s best amateur riders from around the world could barely muster two wave scores that approached 10 points. In fact the highest combination was by Brazil¹s Gabriel Medina, registering a 14.67 on the two-wave Richter scale.
With Captain Rainos on the beach, in the rain, along with birthday boy and trainer Kahea Hart pulling for each Hawaiians ride, frustration set in from the very start. First Keanu Asing, last years World Champion in the under 16 division faced the Junior World Champion Maxime Huscenot and a very strong Australian Tim Mcdonald in the first heat of the day. Asing caught a wave at the close of the heat that gave him an opportunity to advance, however he fell a few decimal points short of advancing to round 3 in the winners bracket. Keanu will surf in the repercharge on Saturday. It should be noted that Keanu is most dangerous when his back and his board are against the wall in a do-or-die situation.
Keanu¹s surfing buddy Ezekiel Lau was the next to surf. ³Zeke² who is a power surfer that extends his body and turns on big, open-faced waves, has proven to be most difficult to beat. He, however, never was able to register the power that accompanies his turning radius and fell in his heat. Zeke too will surf in the repercharge on Saturday, of course bolstered by the attitude of his hard charging buddy Keanu.
Kaimana Jaquias was raised surfing Kauai¹s Kealia, a surf spot that features windblown waves. Kaimana who surfed quite well last year in the younger division of 16 and under found himself in a nail biter. With the winds howling and the waves and current continually in motion, only seven-tenths of a point separated second place from that of fourth. In this case as in most on this ³shocking Friday,² Kaimana found himself chasing rainbows at the end of his heat, and he too will be in the repercharge on Saturday.
Tanner Hendrickson is the most experienced competitor in these games and competition. Tanner started off with some heat-leading scores and things seemed promising for the captain of our Hawaiian surfers. However the field of riders behind him made some adjustments midstream and Tanner was unable to accumulate a strong enough backup wave to advance in the winner¹s bracket and he too was relegated to surfing the repercharge on Saturday.
Shocking? You bet. Even though most of our under 18 surfers are experienced they are primarily 16 years old and going up against older, wiser veterans better acclimated to the ³storm that brought the surf.²
The Hawaiian team is being housed in a close proximity to the contest. They find themselves entrenched in the conditions that will face them on a daily basis. Being able to actually walk to the scaffolding and sandbars daily does give them an advantage in the long run. And with the younger groms all still in the winner¹s bracket and a team of strong willed ladies who are still waiting to surf round one, the Hawaiians still have their eyes, hopes and dreams on that shining horizon.
With the double elimination capturing gold at this point is still visible and attainable. And you can rest assured that coaches Kahea Hart, Megan Abubo and field General Rainos Hayes will keep the team focused inspired and
ready to rumble. Because no one in that Hawaiian group is simply a fair
weather friend. The surf is expected to slowly subside with manageable winds and waves improving over the next 36 hours. And the open faced power brokers will give it their best shot, rain or shine.