NORTH SHORE, Oahu/Hawaii (January 13, 2012) - Worldwide, Hawaii is revered as surfing’s Mecca, yet Hawaii’s representation on the ASP World Surfing Tour has steadily dwindled through the decades. Now a passionate group of surfing supporters are looking to foster the future of pro surfing in Hawaii by focusing on the youth.
The North Shore Surf Shop Pro Junior – the largest pro junior surfing competition to be held in Hawaii in more than a decade – starts this weekend at Sunset Beach, running January 14-22. It will feature more than 100 of the top Under 21 surfers in the nation – male and female, as well as juniors from Japan, South Africa, South America, Australia, and the US Mainland. Carrying a 4-star rating, the event has the highest rating of any Pro Junior event in North America for 2012.
When the international pro surfing tour began in the 1970s, as many as one third of the top ranked pros were from Hawaii. Today there are only two surfers from Hawaii on the men’s elite tour. Pro Junior events like the North Shore Surf Shop Pro Junior are considered a lifeline for young Hawaii surfers looking for a career in the sport.
Sanctioned by the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), the North Shore Surf Shop Pro Junior is heavily supported by local businesses and patrons who see the importance of backing surfing in Hawaii, including: Surfboardline.com, Da Hui, Steve’s Frozen Chillers, Jerry’s Pizza and North Shore Tacos. It will offer $26,000 in prize money, and an additional $15,000 in prizes including artwork, surfboards, and a moped with surfboard racks.
John John Florence, 19, who became the youngest Vans Triple Crown of Surfing champion in history last month, has sparked the dreams of many of Hawaii’s top up-and-coming surfers with his meteoric rise to pro surfing’s center stage. While he is still technically young enough to enter the North Shore Surf Shop Pro, he will instead coach his younger brothers Ivan, 15, and Nathan, 17, as they make their debut in this event.
“The kids who will compete in the North Shore Surf Shop Pro Junior are the future stars of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, just like John John,” says Marty Thomas, ASP Hawaii Regional Director.
“ASP Pro Junior events like this are a vital step for young surfers on a career path to professional surfing. They provide an opportunity for male and female surfers to gain valuable professional experience that is crucial to their development as competitive athletes.
“Most Pro Junior events are held in smaller, average surf that does not prepare them for the ultimate professional goal of being a standout performer on Oahu’s North Shore, so to hold this event at such a famous and challenging wave as Sunset Beach will be extra beneficial. They will be given the chance to prove themselves at surfing’s ultimate proving ground.”
Male competitors include Maui’s Ian Gentil, 15; Oahu’s Ezekiel Lau, 18; Molokai’s Kaoli Kahokuloa, 16; and the youngest entrant: Barron Mamiya, 11, of Oahu. Female competitors include Oahu’s Dax McGill, 13, and Zoe McDougall, who will turn 12 during the event.
With plenty of winter surf on tap, event organizers will look to stage the girls’ heats in 4- to 6-foot surf, and the boys heats in waves of up to 10 feet (Hawaiian scale).
For North Shore Surf Shop Pro Junior updates log on to www.aspworldtour.com