The best junior (under 21) surfers from the Asia Pacific region are preparing for one of the toughest tests of the 2014 ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series, with back-to-back events in French Polynesia. The aspiring professional surfers will get a taste of the big leagues as they pack their bags and prepare to compete in world-class, powerful polynesian surf. This year's French Polynesian leg also sees the inclusion of an ASP 1-Star Qualifying Series (QS) event, the first in the region since the late and great Andy Irons won the Black Pearl Pro Teahupo'o in 1997.
The first event is the Rangiroa Pro Junior, held on a small atoll in the Tuamotu islands in French Polynesia, the surfers will compete at a powerful right-hand reef break that's capable of producing intense tube rides as it breaks over live, razor sharp coral.
Next is the Tahiti Nui Pro Junior and women's Vahine Pro Junior, held at Papara beach, Tahiti in conjunction with the Papara Pro Surf Festival which will also host an ASP 1-Star QS event. The beach has a rivermouth that flows down from the lush green mountains with powerful and punchy lefts and rights that offer up sections for the athletes to show their full bag of tricks.
O’Neill Massin (PYF) is one of Tahiti's most exciting up-and-coming young surfers and is looking forward to the back-to-back events in his backyard. Massin finished equal 5th place at the Tahiti Nui Pro Junior last year after he was defeated by eventual winner William Aliotti (FRA) in the Quarterfinals.
"I’m really excited to have the pro junior events over here," Massin said. "It's also great that now the Papara event is a QS because we have many great surfers here in Tahiti and not many of them have the means to travel abroad for international competitions. So it’s great to hold an event here and give our surfers an opportunity to get noticed and also to see the level of international surfers."
Soli Bailey (Byron Bay, NSW/AUS) is one of the most experienced campaigners at the Rangiroa Pro Junior, finishing runner-up in 2012 and last year he posted a near-perfect heat clocking 19.25 (out of a possible 20). Bailey is looking forward to returning to Tahiti to resume his 2014 ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series campaign.
"I like that Rangiroa is on reef and that it's so different to all the other waves on the junior series," Bailey said. "This year's ASP Junior Series is different to the last few years just because I am a little older and a little more experienced. I'm feeling really good I've got some good boards at the moment and love Tahiti. I can't wait for the events."
Philippe Klima, President of the Tahitian Surfing Federation has been the driving force behind the last few year's of successful ASP events in Tahiti and is looking forward to the two Pro Junior and the Qualifying Series events that are happening in the next few weeks.
"The Tahitian Surfing Federation aims at encouraging our young surfers who wish to become professional surfers by giving them the opportunity to measure themselves with the best international surfers here at home," Klima said. "For this purpose, the previous year's we have organized two men's and one women's pro junior competitions counting for the ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series that have allowed our surfers to place themselves among the best pro juniors in Australasia. This year we are happy to announce the addition of a 1-Star Open Men competition at Papara that will provide an opportunity to all our surfers to gain some points and experience for the ASP Qualifying Series."
Hiro Pouira from the association "Rupe Rupe te oire no Rairoa", organisers of the Rangiroa Pro Junior is thrilled to have the event returning for the fifth year and to seeing a crop of future surfing stars enjoying the surf at Rangiroa.
"We are are very proud to host this event for the fifth year in a row. It is a great opportunity for us to promote our beautiful island and make it known around the world. We invite all pro juniors to come and bring their families to visit Rangiroa and enjoy its waves and pristine beaches."
The Rangiroa Pro Junior will run from April 2 – 6 and the Papara Surf Festival will run from April 8 – 13