Not often, but sometimes, a wild card gets into the finals of a Championship Tour event. It’s rad when it happens as it shows the theory of the underdog – he that has nothing to lose has nothing to lose – to great affect. Everyone loves an underdog.
Parko, not an underdog anymore, at the J-Bay Open in 2014.
Joel Parkinson did it in 1999 in J-Bay when he won the Billabong Pro as a wildcard, and local Tahitian wildcard Manoa Drollet came second in the Billabong Pro Tahiti in 2008.
It’s a cause for celebration, but it does something else, it takes away the points that could be utilized for a world title race. As Parko mentioned in 2008 after losing in the semi to Drollet, but with no one else in the title run getting the second-placed points, “I’m glad for Manoa, and it takes away the points, so that’s a good thing.”
Eithan Osborne (USA) was on fire at Magnatubes in July.
Similarly, when the visiting Billabong juniors surfed in the first event in the Billabong Junior Series presented by BOS held at Magnatubes during this year’s J-Bay Winterfest, there was always a chance, a good chance actually, that a visitor was going to win the event. That surfer was Eithan Osborne from Ventura, California, and the result is that the Under 20 division is now wide open for a series win.
Dylan Lightfoot is in the pound seat with his second place finish at the Magnatubes event, but his series win is not a sure thing.
Dylan Lightfoot leads the Series going into the final event at Seal Point.
Joshe Faulkner is a favourite at Seal Point for this event, with his big match temperament and his hunger for wins. Shane Sykes is also competing in the event, and who can forget his decisive win last year as he tore his way through those onshore sets to win the Under 20 Pro division with some remarkably on-point surfing in the difficult conditions. Shane obviously revels in the Seal Point set-up and he will come into the event as the danger-man.
Tristan Lev has been hanging out and training at Seal Point for a while now, and has the line-up covered. Gleaning information from locals, Lev could be a big surprise in this division.
Tristan Lev will be looking for a big win at Seal Point.
Durban’s Richard Kidd also revels in the Seal Point set-up and has the hard-ripping skills needed to win such an event, while East London surfer and SA Junior Champion Michael Monk has spent enough time around Seals to also know which waves to go on. The list goes on.
Matthew McGillivray from J-Bay does a lot of his training at Seals under the watchful eyes of Graham Hynes, and Adin Masencamp is always a stand-out at Seals. Koby Oberholzer has impressed here in the past, as has Josh Smit, and on paper it looks like this is going to be a big clash of the best junior surfers in the country.
Matt McGillivray is another favourite to take the Series title at Seal Point.
The Billabong Junior Series is a good stepping stone towards a career in professional surfing, and one just has to look at Jordy Smith and Bianca Buitendag to know where this route goes. The surfers competing in the Under 20 Pro Division are our future stars.
If I were to pick someone who might blow up at this event, which no one has asked me to do, I’d choose young Bevan Willis. He surfs with the combination of raw power and precision, and the fact that he’s prepared to put some muscle behind his turns shows heaps of confidence in his surfing and his hacks. Judges love this. They love confidence and they love spray.
Don’t bet against Bevan Willis stealing the show at Seal Point between 25 – 27 September.
And let’s not forget the Pro Junior (Under 20) Women’s division, which is currently led by Durban’s Nicole Pallet, who carved to victory at the first event. Nicole backed up her win at Magnas with the Under 20 SA Champs title in Richards Bay last month, and will be the surfer to watch at Seal Point.
Nicole Pallet will be aiming for a hat-trick of wins at Seal Point.
The Billabong Junior Series presented by BOS at Seal Point leads on to the Billabong SA Junior Champs presented by BOS at Lower Point in Jeffreys Bay. Junior surfing has a great late-year push. We’ll be on the ground covering both these events.