Lennox Head, NSW / AUS
The Pro Junior divisions of the 2019 Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Vissla kicked off in fine form yesterday with some of the world's best junior surfers going blow-for-blow in decent two-to-three foot right-handers.
With a low tide changing the lineup, Lennox Chell (Avoca, NSW) opted to surf the right-handers on the southern tip of the competition area. The gamble paid off for the Central Coast goofy-footer as he found a multitude of long right-handers that allowed for a wide variety of snaps and carves and as a result, was awarded a near-perfect 9.40 wave score.
"That was one of the funnest heats I've had this year," said Chell. "I could tell the tide was running out and the bank down the beach that everyone surfed all morning was beginning to look worse and worse. Thankfully I was able to find waves where I could do two-or-three turns out the back before it linked through to the inside section."
Current WSL junior rankings leader Dakoda Walters (Angourie, NSW) showed the same skills that's allowed him to earn the top spot on the 2019 ratings, throwing down a handful of giant airs and innovative turns. Walters' solid approach received a decent 16.00 and allowed him to move one heat closer to claiming the 2019 Australian / Oceania Junior Title.
"I had a gameplan to get the first wave out there as I knew it could be a little slow," said Walters. "Fortunately, that wave had a really nice wall on it and ran the whole way through to the inside bank. It's always nice to get those first heats out of the way and shake the nerves. Hopefully, I can keep the momentum going."
International competitor Brodie Sale (USA) performed one of the biggest upsets of the event so far taking out his opening Pro Junior heat and eliminating current number three on the 2019 Pro Junior rankings, Xavier Huxtable (Jan Juc, Vic). Having notched up a massive finals performance in this event back in 2017, Sale showed how comfortable he was on Lennox Head beachbreaks, nailing a respectable 13.07 heat total and gaining the upper hand against his opposition.
"The waves are really good out there," said Sale. "It's inconsistent, but when they come through, they're really good. I love coming to Australia and doing this event, the waves are good, the weather is awesome and the people are really nice. Hopefully, I can go one step further than I did in 2017."
At time of distribution, Kai Tandler (Coolangatta, Qld) was able to post the highest heat total of the event, 18.50 to dominate his opening heat and cement his position into the second round.
Other Boys round one standouts who posted excellent scores (eight-and-above) included: Mike Clayton-Brown (Corlette, NSW), Alister Reginato (Sunshine Coast, Qld), Zack McMahon (Evans Head, NSW) and George Pittar (Manly, NSW).
Molly Picklum (Shelly Beach, NSW) edged closer to the 2019 Australian / Oceania Junior Title moving through the first round of the Girls Pro Junior. Picklum posted an excellent 8.17 wave score which allowed her to finish the heat in the runner-up position behind Ellia Smith (Sunshine Coast, Qld).
"Being in the first heat of the day is always a little bit daunting," said Picklum. "If you found the right little wave then there was definitely the potential to get good scores. It would be awesome to finish the year of Pro Juniors with a bang here at Lennox Head."
The six-day event will run from 12 July –17 July 2019 and will comprise of a World Surf League (WSL) sanctioned Pro Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) event as well as an elite competition for promising grommets in the 12, 14 and 16 year age divisions.
In a similar vein to preceding years - where the event has attracted surfers from ten different countries - a full international field is again expected in 2019 with surfers coming from as far away as Europe, USA and Japan to make up a field of more than 220 surfers across all divisions.
All event divisions will be broadcast live on skullcandyozgromopen.com.au
The competition will aim to commence each day at 7:30 am with the call for the day's schedule and location confirmed via the event hotline at 6:45 am. The event hotline is 0458 247 212.
The 2019 Skullcandy Oz Grom Open presented by Vissla is proudly supported by Skullcandy, Vissla, Ballina Shire Council, Le-Ba Boardriders, WSL, and Surfing NSW.