New Zealand surfers have dominated the final event of the Hydralyte Sports Surf Series presented by Hyundai, with Tane Bowden and Saffi Vette winning the Men's and Women's divisions at Jan Juc.
Although he dropped out of the event early, NSW North Coaster Dakoda Walters had done enough in previous events to solidify himself in the top spot on the WSL Australia / Oceania JQS. Walters finaled a four events this season, taking wins at three. The stylish young natural footer will now swt his sights on the WSL World Junior Championships which will be held in Taiwan this November.
"To win the WSL Australia / Oceania Junior Qualifying Series feels amazing," Walters said. "I had a really average start to the year and was struggling to even make a heat. I began to think I should not worry about doing any more events for the year and just wait till next year to see how I'd go and then I had one last shot at Cronulla and got the win. I ended up going on to win three in a row and now take the series so I'm stoked. Going to the World Junior Championships has always been a goal of mine so I'm stoked to achieve that this year. I can't wait to take on all of the dudes from around the world and I hope I can get a good result. A good result there will put me into the major QS events next year would be amazing."
With a small swell on offer on the Final Day of competition, the event again shifted from Bells Beach to the backup location of Jan Juc beach, offering competitors clean head high peaks and the sand bottom beach break.
Tane Bowden, a former Jan Juc resident who now lives on Queensland's Gold Coast was the form surfer of the event, securing multiple high scores on his way through the draw. After a slow start to the 2019 WSL Australasia / Oceania Pro Junior Series, Bowden won the most recent event on the calendar, the SkullCandy Pro Junior, giving himself a chance to qualify for the WSL World Junior Championships to be held in Taiwan in November. Needing to place first or second in the Final, Bowden started slowly before securing an excellent 8.85 (out of a possible 10) to redirect his momentum in the thirty-minute affair. Bowden's 15.50 two-wave total (out of a possible 20) proved too strong for his opponents, landing him the event win and a climb from 6th to second on the WSL Australasia / Oceania Pro Junior rankings, securing him a start in the WSL World Junior Titles.
"To win at Lennox, then back it up here is just the perfect feeling. Exactly what I needed to do" said an elated Bowden. "I just put my head down, fought through the pressure and got it done, I'm just so stoked right now. New Zealand is the flag I surf under, but Victoria was such a special place for me to live. I used to surf here every day, so it's so awesome to win this Hydralyte Sports Pro Junior back at Jan Juc"
Fifteen-year-old Marlon Harrison (QLD) performed beyond his years, dropping the Final's second-highest scoring ride, a 7.25 on his way to second position.
Local Jan Juc surfer Xavier Huxtable finished third, scraping in the bare minimum requirement he needed to qualify for the WSL World Junior Titles, climb from 5th to 3rd on the overall WSL Australasia / Oceania rankings with today's finish. The fourth position went to Arch Whiteman (NSW).
Saffi Vette, from Gisbourne on New Zealand's North Island, claimed victory in the Girl's Final with a score in the dying moments of the heat. Vette squared up on her backhand, dropping a 5.8 for two maneuvers to secure the win narrowly over Lily MacDonald (NSW). The ride took Vette's two-wave total to 11.45, just besting her opponents MacDonald's 11.25.
"Today was the first time I've ever made a Pro Junior Final, to win was just the cherry on top for what has been an amazing couple of days for me," said Vette. "It means so much to me and my family to win today. There are lots of left-handers at home and my backhand is definitely my go-to when I saw that last wave in the Final I knew I could get the score, I'm just so stoked."
Third-placed Bodhi Leigh-Jones (10.5, NSW) cemented her WSL World Junior Title aspirations, holding onto the qualifying second position on the overall WSL Australasia / Oceania rankings.
Pacha Luque-Light (10.25, QLD) was unable to find the ride she was looking for, rounding out the Final in fourth place.
There will be more news on the Australia / Oceania WSL World Junior Championship Qualifiers coming out in the coming weeks so stay tuned.