It’s a great time to be a competing grom in South Africa after a series of new WQS and WJS events have been introduced to the contest season. A lot is at stake for the young athletes – qualifying for the SA Team to compete at the ISA World Junior Games, WQS points and the coveted title of series winner. The first Billabong Junior Series event presented by All Aboard Travel went down this past weekend in Port Elizabeth. We caught up with Kayla Nogueira and Max Elkington who were fortunate enough to start the year strong by taking out the win in the u/16 premiere division…
Durban local, Kayla Nogueira, won both the u/14 and the u/16 division at just 13 years old. The goofy foot has seen a sharp improvement in her surfing which could be due to the fact that she spends hours in the water.
How was the contest and how does it feel to start the year off so strong?
It feels really good to start the season with a win in both the u/14 and u/16 division at the fist Billabong Junior Series. It’s so sick that there are so many more contests and QS event in SA this year. The contest itself was really well organized and fun. The waves were cooking on the first day of the contest but a lot smaller the next day so I was happy when the moved it to Lochness because there were good waves there.
What are your goals for the year?
My goal for this year is to make the SA team and to do well in all the QS events.
How do you balance school and surfing? And what do you do when you aren’t surfing?
I started homeschooling this year so it is easy for me to balance both my surfing and school work. When I am not surfing I am either doing school work or watching surf videos.
Max Elkington is the backhand assassin who has steadily been dominating the junior scene throughout his young career.
Tell us about the event.
It was really fun and the first time I have surfed PE since Grom Games when I was in the u/8 division. The first day was seriously good. Then on the second day the waves were seriously bad! But then the contest moved to Wildside where it was fun in the beginning but started to get real inconsistent so there was pretty much just one good wave every heat.
How important is it to start the contest year off strong?
I think this year especially it is important to start off strong as they are only taking a few events for consideration for who gets to do the trials to make the SA team for Worlds and they are using the events as trials. So I am very stoked and feel like I have a big advantage now.
Who are your biggest competitors?
My biggest competitors are Eli Beukes, Luke Slijpen, Angelo Faulkner, Dillon Hendricks and Karl Steen. They just all surf so good so its great to be surfing against them. I think South Africa’s u/16 surfers are looking so good, everyone is amped and training hard for the year.
Thoughts about all the new events this year?
Having more contests this year means more practice and experience so it’s really good. And the QS events will be a great experience to be able to compete against the older guys and some international guys. I am really stoked about that.
What are your goals for 2017?
My goal is to get good results in the first events to try and make the team for ISA Worlds. I also want to do my best in the QS events and the WSL u/18 Pro Junior Division in the Billabong Junior Series. I want to get my name out there and hopefully get more recognised in South Africa to try and eventually make a name for myself overseas.
*Featured Image: Kayla Nogueira / Image By: Grant Scholtz