Enrique Ariitu (Tahiti) advancing through to the Quarterfinals in the last heat of the day. Pic ASP/Will H-S
PAPARA, Tahiti (Thursday, April 1, 2013) – The field that started with over 70 competitors has been culled to just 12 as the men’s Tahiti Nui Pro Junior ran the Round of 32 and the Round of 16 to decide the Quarterfinalists and the women’s Vahine Pro Junior ran through the Round of 16 and the Quarterfinals to decide the Semifinalists. 3 foot (1.5 meter) surf at Papara provided the perfect stage for high performance surfing as competitors put it all on the line as the draw gets down to the business end of the event.
The second annual Tahiti Nui Pro Junior carries an ASP 3-Star rating for the men’s division and for the first time the event has added a women’s ASP 3-Star division, the Vahine Pro Junior. This event offers vital points and prize-money towards qualifying for the ASP World Junior Championships.
Keoni Yan (Tahiti) caused the upset of the event when he eliminated the winner of the last two ASP Australasia Pro Junior Series events and current No. 1 Jake Sylvester (AUS). Yan’s powerful carves and inverted aerials saw him jump from last to the lead in the last two minutes of the heat.
“To beat Jake (Sylvester) feels good because he’s number one and he’s a good surfer,” Yan said. “He’s also a good friend so it’s unfortunate, but it’s a competition and that’s what happens. This is the closest beach to my house so I surf here often. I lost in this same round last year so I’m very happy to be through to the Quarterfinals.”
Chris Robertson (Cronulla, NSW/AUS) advanced into the Quarterfinals after winning his Round of 16 heat alongside Mitch Parkinson (Gold Coast, QLD/AUS) who finished second. Less than half a point separated the pair of Australians who eliminated Heimana Buisson (PYF) and Nathan Specht (AUS) who finished third and fourth respectively.
“This is the best result I’ve ever had on the ASP Junior Series so I’m super stoked,” Robertson said. “There’s a little wave at home that’s exactly like this and I surf it pretty much everyday so I feel really comfortable. I’m excited about the Quarterfinals tomorrow, I’ve never surfed a man-on-man heat before and I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.”
William Aliotti (FRA) is proving to be the Tahiti Nui Pro Junior dark horse as he stormed through both his heats today with explosive, fast and critical surfing. Aliotti competes on the ASP Europe Pro Junior Series and entered this event as he happened to be on a surf trip to Tahiti and he’s doing some damage as he takes his spot in the Quarterfinals.
“The waves were fickle in that heat so I had to surf smart,” Aliotti said. “Everyone was getting good scores and I felt the pressure. From now on it will be easier surfing man-on-man heats because you can wait for the best waves. I have been training in Hawaii for the last two months and I wanted to come to Tahiti because I’ve never been here before. I came for a Teahupo’o swell and I got some good waves and I thought it would be good to do this event while I’m here. I love it here, it’s my best trip so far!”
Ellie-Jean Coffey (Gold Coast, QLD/AUS), current No. 1 on the ASP Australasia Pro Junior Series after winning the season opening event, continues to surf with power and flow as she today advanced into the Vahine Pro Junior Semifinals. Coffey eliminated New Zealand’s Ella Williams (NZL) in an evenly matched affair, but Coffey caught the best waves, both lefts and rights unloading multiple critical turns to take the win.
“This is by far my best year on the ASP Pro Junior Series,” Coffey said. “I’m leading the ratings and I feel really comfortable right now. I love it over here in Tahiti, it’s a competition, but it’s so beautiful that it doesn’t feel like one. Ella (Williams) and I are friends and she’s lovely, I was more trying to focus on getting the good waves than what she was doing. It feels really good to be through to the Semifinals.”
Mauarii Maro (PYF), Karelle Poppke (PYF) and Stephanie Single (AUS) also advanced through to the Semifinals after winning their respective Quarterfinal clashes with each of the girls throwing down multiple powerful carving turns and wraps.
UPCOMING VAHINE PRO JUNIOR SEMIFINALS: SF 1: Ellie-Jean Coffey (AUS) vs. Mauarii Maro (PYF) SF 2: Karelle Poppke (PYF) vs. Stephanie Single (AUS)
UPCOMING TAHITI NUI PRO JUNIOR QUARTERFINAL MATCH-UPS: QF 1: William Aliotti (FRA) vs. Massin O’Neil (PYF) QF 2: Vehiatua Prunier (PYF) vs. Keoni Yan (PYF) QF 3: Chris Robertson (AUS) vs. Enrique Ariitu (PYF) QF 4: Mitchell Parkinson (AUS) vs. Paul Cesar Distingui (FRA)