Held at Newcastle, NSW, Australia, the 2017 World Surf League NIB Pro Junior was a really great showcase for junior professional surfing talent. Click here today to get all the final results and critical details from this world-class junior surfing competition!
As we get closer and closer to the primary segment of the 2017 World Surf League contest series, there are many different events during the lead-up that are yielding some really outstanding surfing. Like many sports and activities, as time goes on surfing becomes more and more complex, and re-defined by the next generation of athletes who come along. For this reason along with many others, watching the junior class of professional surfers in the World Surf League can be an amazing preview of the next generation of adult pros.
With that being said, the 2017 WSL NIB Pro Junior competition at Newcastle, NSW, Australia was a great success and a perfect example of how the next generation of younger professionals are really shaking up the world of surfing and helping it evolve as a sport and a culture too. Australian junior pro surfers fought hard on their home turf, and although three out of four top finishers at this event were Aussie native surfers, the second place finisher was an Indian surfer named Rio Waida.
Rio showed remarkable resolve at the 2017 NIB Pro Junior, and actually was only beaten by just over half a point. Very narrowly missing the win at this event, Rio Waida is definitely going to be someone to pay close attention to moving forward. The waves at this contest weren’t terribly large, and actually it seemed as though this competition was purposely intended to feature smaller breaks to maximize the intensity of short board surfing at this contest. In spite of their relatively smaller size, these waves were moving quickly and held their shape quite well in the sense that they weren’t mushy at all.
The weather actually held up too, though Australia’s heat waves this summer have made temperatures rather oppressive at times. The 2017 World Surf League NIB Pro Junior event was definitely worth watching, and if any surfing fans happened to miss this one you will want to catch up on all the critical details. To benefit surf fans all over the world, we have included a detailed summary along with the final rankings from the 2017 NIB Pro Junior at Newcastle, NSW, Australia that will be presented here below.
1st Place – Liam O’Brien – Australia:
Demonstrating quite clearly why he is fast becoming a mainstay in the junior professional circuit of the World Surf League, Aussie native surfer Liam O’Brien has now secured the first place victory at the 2017 WSL NIB Pro Junior competition. Liam is definitely a newcomer to this league, but not at all a newcomer to the world of high level surfing competition. Liam’s ability to make corrections on the fly and respond reflexively to the sometimes unpredictable changes in the wave break dynamics at Newcastle allowed him to consistently execute awesome high-scoring lines. Liam O’Brien certainly represented Australia in an impressive fashion at this competition, narrowly defeating the second place runner-up contender, Indian junior pro surfer Rio Waida.
Starting out in the quarterfinal round, O’Brien was competing in the third heat against three other Aussie junior pro surfers. Liam was pitted against Noah Stocca, Dylan Moffat, and Billy Harrison in Heat 3, Quarterfinals, and all of these competitors were fiercely vying for dominance in this heat. The scoring margins between the competitors in Heat 3, Quarterfinals were quite narrow indeed, revealing how closely the junior pro surfers were matched up in the third quarterfinal heat. Liam’s run in the quarterfinals was looking a bit shaky after his Wave 1 scoring was revealed by the judges to be 5.80 points in total, and at that point he was definitely in jeopardy of being bumped out of the competition altogether.
Fortunately for Liam, he was able to improve dramatically in the Wave 2 scoring and ended up increasing his individual wave score almost three points over his Wave 1 total. Liam O’Brien’s Wave 2 scoring was a very high 8.25 points, completely destroying the rest of the Wave 2 scores from the other surfers in Heat 3, Quarterfinals. With a total quarterfinal round score of 14.05 points all around, Liam was able to salvage his round and advance on into the semifinals. The average wave scoring in Heat 3, Quarterfinals came in at 6.36 points in total.
Similar to the extremely close scoring and competition in Liam’s Heat 3, Quarterfinals, the semifinals proved to be even closer in terms of scoring margins. In fact, Liam O’Brien ended up tying for first place with another Aussie junior pro surfer named Jackson Roberts. Liam was surfing just as well has he had been in the quarterfinals, although in the semifinals he was matched up against a serious challenge in Jackson Roberts. Out of the four contenders that Liam had to go up against in the semifinals, which were Jackson Roberts, Noah Stocca, Morgan Cibilic, nobody really came close to defeating him except for Roberts.
After Liam’s Wave 1 scoring came in at 6.00 points and Jackson’s came in at 7.00 points, things were looking questionable for Liam’s potential progression on into the final round of the 2017 WSL NIB Pro Junior competition. That all changed after Wave 2 scores came in though, since Liam was able to turn up the heat and earn himself an 8.00 pointer on the second individual wave score of Liam’s Heat 2, Semifinals. That rounded his final scoring total in the semifinals to 14.00 points, evenly matching Jackson’s final scoring total of 14.00 points as well. With those scores in the books, both O’Brien and Jackson would end up moving on to the final round along with Rio Waida and yet another Aussie junior pro named Dextar Muskens. The average wave score in Liam’s Heat 2, Semifinals came out to be 6.47 points in all.
The final round was a really exciting conclusion to the 2017 NIB Pro Junior competition at Newcastle, NSW, Australia, with Liam O’Brien and Indian junior pro surfer Rio Waida going head to head out in the lineup to decide the winner. Jackson Roberts and Dextar Muskens also competed in the finals, but their scores were not high enough to realistically challenge Waida or O’Brien for final round dominance. In spite of incurring a half-point deficit compared to Waida’s scoring after the Wave 1 scores came in, Liam was able to charge back into the lead after the Wave 2 scores were official.
Liam’s Wave 1 scoring value came to 5.75 points, but Wave 2 was where he really sealed the deal for his victory after bringing in a solid 7.00 pointer. Liam’s total final round scoring value was 12.75 points, earning him the precarious victory over Rio Waida by a margin of 0.50 points overall. The average wave score in the finals rounded out to 5.50 points altogether, an average that was somewhat diminished by Dextar Muskens only generating a 8.00 point scoring total for the round.
2nd Place – Rio Waida – India:
Another up and coming contender in the World Surf League junior professional division is Indian surfer Rio Waida. Rio was able to cement his high standing in the 2017 WSL season when he secured the second place podium finish at the 2017 NIB Pro Junior competition at Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Rio is a smaller surfer, giving him the ability to keep his center of gravity lower and more agile in wave breaks of all sizes, shapes, and speeds. His style, similar to many other athletes in the WSL junior pro division, is based mostly around fast and wide bottom turns, aggressive cutbacks and snaps, and even some basic aerial tricks too. Rio Waida is proving himself to be a well rounded surfer, and if his latest performances are indicative of his career trajectory then we can expect to see him taking the World Surf League by storm over time.
Beginning with Rio’s performance in Heat 1, Quarterfinals, he was already demonstrating his dominance over some of the other competitors involved in the 2017 NIB Pro Junior competition at Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Matched up against two Aussie junior pros in Dextar Muskens and Thomas Prout, as well as another Indian junior pro named Andri Anwar, Rio handily defeated all of them except for Dextar Muskens. Dextar posed a significant challenge to Rio Waida in Heat 1, Quarterfinals, given that Rio only defeated him by a scoring margin of 1.25 points.
Rio’s Wave 1 scoring value in Heat 1, Quarterfinals came in at an impressive 7.25 points, giving him a solid early lead over the rest of the athletes in that heat. However, when Wave 2 scoring totals rolled in for Heat 1, Quarterfinals, Dextar Muskens turned up the heat earning an 8.00 pointer, but it wasn’t enough to defeat Rio Waida since Rio had an 8.50 pointer for Wave 2. Rio Waida’s final scoring total for Heat 1, Quarterfinals came in at 15.75 points, giving him a close but comfortable margin of victory over Dextar Muskens and the rest of the competition in that heat. The average wave scoring in Rio’s quarterfinal round heat rounded out to 6.04, a median-level average for the 2017 NIB Pro Junior contest at Newcastle, NSW, Australia.
Heading into the semifinal round, Rio Waida was competing in Heat 1, Semifinals against Aussie surfers Dextar Muskens and Mikey McDonagh, and New Zealand junior pro Te Kehukehu Butler. Heat 1, Semifinals was a major highlight for Rio Waida, and proved to all the fans, judges, and other bystanders that he genuinely is a true elite surfer. He is the type of surfing athlete who happens to thrive under intense pressure, which is exactly what took place in Heat 1, Semifinals when Rio Waida was able to earn a near perfect ten scoring and take the win in that round of the 2017 NIB Pro Junior.
Unlike other previous rounds involving Rio Waida, where the scoring margins were a bit tighter, Rio completely pulled away from the pack in Heat 1, Semifinals. Rio’s Wave 1 scoring total in the semifinals was a towering 8.40 pointer, which established an early lead for him of almost one whole point over the closest challenger, Dextar Muskens. As if that wasn’t good enough, Rio Waida came back in the Wave 2 scoring with an insane 9.50 point score that sealed his incredible victory in the semifinals. Rio’s semifinal total was an amazing 17.90 point score, giving him almost five whole points over the runner-up in that round! The average wave scoring in Rio’s Heat 1, Semifinals came out to 6.69 points in all.
If Rio Waida could have surfed as well in the final round as he had in the semifinals, he would have surely won the contest without a doubt. He still held his own in the finals in spite of seeing a scoring decrease overall, and was very close to Liam O’Brien. In actuality, we almost saw a tie for the first place victory between Liam O’Brien and Rio Waida, with only half a point between them at the conclusion of the 2017 NIB Pro Junior competition. Rio’s Wave 1 scoring in the finals came out to be 6.25 points, and at that point he was completely positioned to win the event. However, he only managed to earn a 5.90 pointer for Wave 2, and given that Liam bumped his score up to a 7.00 pointer for his Wave 2 total, Rio could not overcome him to take the win. Rio’s total score in the finals was 12.15 points, and even though he didn’t win the competition, taking the second place podium finish is going to bolster his league rankings quite a bit.