KOASTAL KAOS JUNIOR PRO
COURTESY HARD ROCK CAFE
With wave heights reaching 20 feet, Kiron Jabour of Laniakea won the Koastal Kaos Junior Pro title for surfers 20 and younger yesterday at Sunset Beach.
Jabour shows no fear in claiming junior pro event title
The surfers in the No Fear/Hard Rock Caf Koastal Kaos Junior Pro yesterday may have been young in age, but they showed their appetites for large waves to be plenty big.
In 10- to 20-foot-face surf at famed Sunset Beach -- which head judge Michael Ginsberg called the biggest ever for a junior pro contest anywhere -- Kiron Jabour of nearby Laniakea won the prestigious event for surfers 20 years old and under.
Jabour bested a field of 63 other surfers that included both pros and amateurs fitting the age group. The majority were from Hawaii, but there were also several Brazilian and Japanese competitors.
"I'm so stoked. This is the biggest win of my life," said Jabour, who took home the $2,000 first prize as well as a new surfboard. ""This is Sunset, it's bombing -- I have goose bumps right now. I've always wanted to win a junior, especially in these kinds of conditions."
The 17-year-old surfs regularly at Sunset and showed his experience by jumping out to an early lead in the four-man, 30-minute final, notching a 6.25 (out of 10) wave score on the first ride of the heat about 3 minutes in.
He temporarily lost the lead when Kauai's Tyler Newton tallied a 6.50 approximately 6 minutes later. But Jabour retook it for good with a 7.50 at the 12-minute mark.
The regular-footed Jabour executed a big snap and followed it with another huge gouge on his top-scoring wave of the decider, and finished with a winning heat total of 13.75 points for his best pair of rides.
"At times (being in the lineup) was kind of scary. The sets were breaking so far out there you didn't know where they were going to land," said the 17-year-old Newton. "To be out there with only three other guys was kind of eerie, but it was fun and a really good experience at the same time."
Newton finished as the runner-up with a 13.35 total. Two Brazilian surfers joined the pair from Hawaii in the final, with Jeronimo Vargas (11.90) placing third and Marco Giorgi (11.00) fourth.
"I knew I had one good wave, but I was trying to get another one and a set got me," said the 18-year-old Vargas.
The surfer from Rio de Janeiro scored the highest single ride (7.65) in the final. But he could not back it up with another big score after being thrashed and pushed to the inside when consecutive large waves rolled in late in the heat.
"(But) I'm really proud," Vargas said. "This is my first competition here in Hawaii and my first junior final."
Besides winning prize money and proving their big-wave mettle, the top finishers are also now well-positioned for the Hawaii region's spots into the World Junior Championships that will be held early next year in Australia. There is one more Hawaii junior pro contest sponsored by Billabong to be held this fall, and the competitors who do well enough in both will secure the coveted entries.
A spot in the World Juniors "is the ultimate goal," Jabour said. "I watched everyone go to worlds (earlier) this year, and I was just freaking out, wishing I was there.
"I just gotta keep doing good to qualify this time."
The Koastal Kaos event also includes about 80 surfers in five amateur divisions ranging from the menehune to the open men's and women's brackets. Competition began on Thursday.
The meet concludes with the amateur finals tomorrow after a break today.
In addition to yesterday's junior pro competition and the one set for the fall, contest director and longtime pro surfer Liam McNamara is still trying to add one more Koastal Kaos junior pro event in Hawaii this year. It could again be staged on the North Shore if it can be scheduled soon, or it may be held on Oahu's south shore or possibly another island if it comes later in the year.
If another event is added, results from all of them will determine the Hawaii region's spots in the World Junior.
"This is a great opportunity for all junior surfers," McNamara said. "This is a major steppingstone for them in their careers as professional athletes. And it was a history-making event to have the contest in this type of surf."