Sarah Baum (ZAF) was the talk of the town on Day 2 of the Billabong ASP World Junior Surfing Championships at Burleigh Heads in Australia as the teenager from Athlone Park south of Durban made full use of her powerful backhand attack to post a heat total of 18.53 out of a possible 20, the highest of the entire event thus far.
Baum, who turns 18 on Thursday, left Quincy Davis (USA) and Felicity Palmateer (AUS) needing to improve on both their scores by recording a phenomenal near perfect ride of 9.93 out of 10 which, along with an excellent 8.60, signalled to her competitors that she will be the girl to beat at this event.
“I surf rights most of the time so I’ve got a strong backhand,” Baum said. “I also think this wave is easy to surf on your backhand because you can get right in the pocket.
“I was nervous going into this event, but now I’m feeling confident after that 9.93. I was so excited when I paddled into that wave and saw it double up, it allowed me to do a big fins-free turn and that set me up for a great ride.”
Despite a slight drop in swell size, contest director Luke Egan had no hesitation in sending the world’s best 20-and-under female competitors out in the hip to head high waves for non-elimination Round 1 heats where the top two progress to Round 3 and the third placed surfer has to fight her way through a Round 2 match-up.
Fellow South African Bianca Buitendag, the defending women’s champion at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships, joined Baum in advancing directly to Round 3 of the women’s event when she finished second in her Round 1 clash.
The 18 year-old from George fought out a see-saw battle with eventual heat winner Alessa Quizon (HAW) where the lead changed hands six times during the 30 minute clash. With seconds left on the clock Buitendag took the lead with 6.67 but the Hawaiian was on the next wave and earned 7.27 points and the heat victory.
Top seed and rankings leader Joanne Defay (FRA) was given a scare when she was bundled into Round 2 after finishing third behind by Australian sisters Ellie-Jean and Holly-Sue Coffey in her opening encounter.
But the Frenchwoman kept her hopes of clinching the ASP Junior Women’s World title alive when she placed second behind compatriot Maud Le Car to set up a rematch against Holly-Sue in a one-on-one Round 3 heat where the winner advances and the loser goes home.
Sarah Mason (NZL) and Dimity Stoyle (AUS) also posted eye-catchingly high Round 1 heat totals and current rankings runner-up Leila Hurst (HAW) was a convincing winner of her opening duel to keep the pressure on Defay.
A call will be made at 7.30am local time tomorrow (11.30pm Sunday SA time) to decide on whether to get the competition underway. When Round 3 of women’s competition does resume, Baum will be up against Maud Le Car (FRA) while Buitendag takes on Nage Melamed (HAW) for a place in the quarterfinals.
The Billabong World Junior Championships Gold Coast runs until 29 January, and all the action will be webcast live via the Billabong Pro website. For more information, log onto the ASP World Tour website.
The Billabong World Junior Championship is supported by the Queensland Government, through Events Queensland.
The Billabong World Junior Championships Gold Coast is brought to you by Monster Energy Drink, Sony, Events QLD, Sony Ericsson, VonZipper, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, ASL magazine and Burleigh Boardriders.
Billabong World Junior Championships Gold Coast Women’s Round 1 Results:Heat 1: Sarah Mason (NZL) 17.96, Nage Melamed (HAW) 12.73, Juliana Meneghel (BRA) 8.67 Heat 2: Alessa Quizon (HAW) 15.27, Bianca Buitendag (ZAF) 12.44, Philippa Anderson (AUS) 8.33 Heat 3: Ellie-Jean Coffey (AUS) 12.83, Holly-Sue Coffey (AUS) 12.03, Joanne Defay (FRA) 7.57 Heat 4: Leila Hurst (HAW) 14.73, Eden Putland (AUS) 8.00, Maud Le Car (FRA) 7.97 Heat 5: Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 17.23, Nao Omura (JPN) 8.07, Ren Hashimoto (JPN) 6.33 Heat 6: Sarah Baum (ZAF) 18.53, Quincy Davis (USA) 13.43, Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 10.50
Billabong World Junior Championships Gold Coast Women’s Round 2 Results:Heat 1: Maud Le Car (FRA) 11.90, Joanne Defay (FRA) 9.76, Ren Hashimoto (JPN) 7.13 Heat 2: Philippa Anderson (AUS) 13.76, Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 12.33 Juliana Meneghel (BRA) 6.17