The Billabong Junior Series pres. by All Aboard Travel, the third of four surfing events that will crown champions in seven age divisions for boys and girls for the 20th successive year, heralds the start of the 13-day Ballito Pro Surf Festival on Tuesday.
The world’s longest running junior surfing series has nurtured the competitive careers of countless local surfers including current world No3 Jordy Smith and former WSL Championship Tour (CT) campaigners Bianca Buitendag, Travis Logie and Rosy Hodge along with current QS standouts Beyrick de Vries, Michael February and Matt McGillivray.
Scheduled for Tuesday to Thursday, at Willard Beach in Ballito, the junior event features the cream of country’s surfers aged 18-and-under along with a contingent of international competitors who have posted impressive results both in South African waters and in their home countries.
Points earned in the Under-18 JQS1,000 events for men and women count towards the annual WSL Africa titles and the selection of four men and two women to represent the region at the WSL World Junior Championships in Australia in January.
The 3A rated Surfing South Africa (SSA) events for U16, U14 and U12 boys and girls count towards the 2017 South African Surf Tour (SAST) 2017 titles. All the events offer prize money with the points earned over the four events determining the prestigious Billabong Junior Series champions.
Jake Elkington (Kommetjie) heads the seeding for the JQS1,000 men’s event after a stellar 2017 season in which he has reached the final in five of six events, winning three. But 2016 series champion and defending Ballito winner Adin Masencamp (Strand) will be determined to improve on his second place in the rankings at this event.
And both face tough challengers in the form of the Faulkner brothers – Joshe and Angelo – from Jeffreys Bay and Cody Young who is ranked No6 on the Hawaiian junior leaderboard after finals appearances at Pipeline and Sunset Beach.
The JQS1,000 women’s event will provide an intriguing battle between defending Ballito champion Zoe McDougall (HAW), No3 ranked Australian junior Sophia Fulton and local stars Sophie Bell from nearby Salt Rock, two-time JQS winner Kayla Nogueira (uMhlanga) and Kirsty McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay).
In the U16 boys, Max Elkington (Kommetjie) has won six consecutive Billabong Junior Series pres. by All Aboard Travel titles but the likes of fellow Capetonians Eli Beukes and the rapidly improving Luke Slijpen along with Bryce du Preez (East London) and Dillen Hendricks (Jeffreys Bay) are hungry for victory.
Kayla Nogueira is the favourite for the U16 title after a phenomenal run of results this year while Zoe Steyn (Kalk Bay) and Nate Spalding (Durban) top the current U14 girls and boy’s rankings with Kyra Bennie (Durban) having won two out of two in the U12 boys.
Presenting sponsor All Aboard Travel have added a huge incentive by providing tickets to Bali for the overall series winners of the U18 Men’s and Women’s events. BOS Ice Tea reinforced their long standing support for junior surfing by taking the title sponsorship for the second event in the series, the BOS Cape Crown presented by Billabong in Cape Town in May.
Picture of Angelo Faulkner (Jeffreys Bay), one of the favourites at Ballito this week courtesy of WSL/Thurtell