Tia Blanco (USA), 18..."> Tia Blanco (USA), 18..." />
Tia Blanco (USA), 18, bounced back from a deceiving opening heat in Ericeira to dominate her following two matchups and get the first spot in the event’s quarterfinals. Blanco scored multiple excellent waves including an impressive 8.17 on a single powerful snap on her forehand.
“Conditions were definitely tough but I was happy to find a couple nice waves and I had a lot of fun,” Blanco said. “I guess everything happens for a reason and even though I didn’t perform my best in that first heat, I was happy to get that extra little practice in Rd2.”
The young American took on Round 1 highlight performer Brissa Hennessy (HAW) and reigning European Junior Champion Juliette Brice (FRA) in the third round and demonstrated her superiority with impeccable wave selection and radical surfing.
“Every heat’s been stacked, Brissa is an incredible surfer and as are all the other competitors,” Blanco continued. “In the previous heat I got Miluska (Tello) and she’s so good too, I was really nervous so I’m stoked to have made those heats. This is my first time competing at the World Juniors and my last chance so I’m really happy to be here. I obviously want to try to win but I honestly think everybody here is capable of winning cause they’re all really talented.”
Dax McGill (HAW), 17, powered through her round 2 affair and will continue her Portuguese campaign, carrying momentum from an excellent performance today.
“I’m freezing, I haven’t been in a full suit in about a year,” McGill admitted. “Last year was a really tough year, I was injured for a while so I’m really happy to be here and I just want to keep my progression and take out a couple more heats here.”
The talented Hawaiian who was awarded a wildcard into the Maui Women’s Pro last month, traded her tropical home break for chilly winter European weather but adapted to the conditions perfectly and found the resources to produce excellent surfing in Ericeira.
“I was blessed to get that wildcard and surf firing Honolulu Bay, that was just a dream,” McGill continued. “It’s pretty cool to have Carissa as a role model, she’s only about 45mn from where I live and I see her a lot, especially during winter time on the North Shore. I really want to be her one day, and it’d be pretty cool to take out a World Title.”
Reigning Women’s World Junior Champion Mahina Maeda (HAW), 17, wrapped up the day with a last-minute win to advance into the quarterfinals as well.
“It was kind of frantic cause this morning we thought the event would be called off so we went to surf a wave in Cascais and then all of a sudden we got the call saying my heat was soon,” Maeda admitted. “I felt unprepared out there but I tried to make it work.”
Local wildcard Camilla Kemp (PRT), 19, made her way into the third round of competition, eliminating South-Africa’s Gina Smith (ZAF) in the process. Kemp, who reached the final of a regional Junior event last summer, looked comfortable in the unruly conditions and managed to find decent scoring opportunities to win her heat.
“I started with only one-maneuver waves and I knew the judges appreciate a wave with a combination of two at least, so I was stoked to get that other wave and a good score,” Kemp said. “In these events you’re never sure what will happen so it was important for me to get another score as a backup. I’ve trained a lot at Ribeira this last month, and just recently when I learned the event would happen here I started training on this wave. I’m happy that we have this spot and that we can run the event even in this storm.”
Kemp unfortunately later couldn’t overcome Maeda’s form and will have to surf the elimination Round 4 when the event resumes.
Michael Bradley Photography