Dylan Lightfoot heads a contingent of seven South Africans who will join the world’s best surfers aged 20-and-under in the Ericeira WSL Junior Championships which determines the annual undisputed men’s and women’s world junior champions.
The Ericeira WSL Junior Championships runs from 4 – 13 January 2016 in the high-performance right-hand point breaks of Ericeira in Portugal and hosts the top ranked junior surfers from the seven WSL regions of North America, South America, Japan, Europe, Africa, Australasia and Hawaii in the 48-man and 18-woman fields.
Lightfoot (Jeffreys Bay), the WSL Africa Junior champion and also the highest ranked SA junior on the WSL Qualifying Series (QS) at No. 157, finished equal 17th in the corresponding event in 2014 and is anticipating a better result in the final junior event of his career.
“I’m really looking forward to surfing in the World Junior Champs at Ericeira,” said Lightfoot. “It’s an incredible wave and I feel it suits my style of surfing being a right hand point break.”
Lightfoot will be joined in the men’s draw by compatriots Shane Sykes (Salt Rock), Adin Masencamp (Strand), Jordan Maree (Kalk Bay), Matt McGillivray (Jeffreys Bay) and Bevan Willis (Durban). Nicole Pallet (La Lucia), the WSL Africa Women’s Junior champion and runner-up Gina Smith (Jeffreys Bay) are the two South African girls who qualified for the event.
Lightfoot and McGillivray earned their spots in the squad as the two highest ranked WSL Africa Pro Juniors on the QS rankings while the other four are the next highest in the regional rankings.
Another South African, Kommetjie based Benji Brand, will be representing the Hawaii region in the event.
Universally regarded as the ultimate benchmark in junior surfing, past WSL Junior Champions have gone on to make major impacts on the surfing world, including Andy Irons (HAW), Joel Parkinson (AUS), Adriano de Souza (BRA), Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), Jordy Smith (ZAF), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and Gabriel Medina (BRA).
Past WSL Junior Champions:
2014: Vasco Ribeiro (PRT) / Mahina Maeda (HAW)
2013: Gabriel Medina (BRA) / Ella Williams (NZL)
2012: Jack Freestone (AUS) / Nikki Van Dijk (AUS)
2011: Caio Ibelli (BRA) / Leila Hurst (HAW)
2010: Jack Freestone (AUS) / Alizee Arnaud (FRA)
2009: Maxime Huscenot (REU) / Laura Enever (AUS)
2008: Kai Barger (HAW) / Pauline Ado (FRA)
2007: Pablo Paulino (BRA) / Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS)
2006: Jordy Smith (ZAF) / Nicola Atherton (AUS)
2005: Kekoa Bacalso (HAW) / Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS)
2004: Pablo Paulino (BRA)
2003: Adriano de Souza (BRA)
2001: Joel Parkinson (AUS)
2000: Pedro Henrique (BRA)
1999: Joel Parkinson (AUS)
1998: Andy Irons (HAW)
The Ericeira WSL Junior Championships will be webcast LIVE at WorldSurfLeague.com starting at approximately 8 am SA time daily.
Ericeira WSL Junior Championships Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Joshua Moniz (HAW), Gatien Delahaye (GLP), Charly Quivront (FRA)
Heat 2: Timothee Bisso (GLP), Reo Inaba (JPN), Harry Bryant (AUS)
Heat 3: Nomme Mignot (FRA), Nelson Cloarec (FRA), Natxo Gonzalez (EUK)
Heat 4: Mateia Hiquily (PYF), Benji Brand (HAW), Momoto Tsuzuki (JPN)
Heat 5: Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI), Dylan Lightfoot (ZAF), Jordan Maree (ZAF)
Heat 6: Hiroto Ohhara (JPN), Parker Coffin (USA), Shane Sykes (ZAF)
Heat 7: Soli Bailey (AUS), Griffin Colapinto (USA), Adin Masencamp (ZAF)
Heat 8: Deivid Silva (BRA), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITL), Yuji Mori (JPN)
Heat 9: Tomas Fernandes (PRT), Takumi Yasui (JPN), John Urcia (PER)
Heat 10: Kanoa Igarashi (USA), Mihimana Braye (PYF), Bevan Willis (ZAF)
Heat 11: Lucas Silveira (BRA), Kan Watanabe (JPN), Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 12: Hiroto Arai (JPN), Luan Wood (BRA), Alonso Correa (PER)
Heat 13: Victor Bernardo (BRA), Imaikalani Devault (HAW), Matthew McGillivray (ZAF)
Heat 14: Noah Schweizer (USA), Elijah Gates (HAW), Cam Richards (USA)
Heat 15: Kalani David (HAW), Kai Hing (AUS), O’Neill Massin (PYF)
Heat 16: Seth Moniz (HAW), Alcides Lopes (BRA), Daniel Glenn (USA)
Ericeira WSL Women’s Junior Championships Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Brisa Hennessy (USA), Dax McGill (HAW), Minori Kawai (JPN)
Heat 2: Tia Blanco (USA), Teresa Bonvalot (PRT), Gina Smith (ZAF)
Heat 3: Mahina Maeda (HAW), Melanie Giunta (PER), Miluska Tello (PER)
Heat 4: Chelsea Tuach (BRB), Carol Henrique (PRT), Juliette Brice (FRA)
Heat 5: Isabella Nichols (AUS), Camilla Kemp (PRT), Nicole Pallet (ZAF)
Heat 6: Holly Wawn (AUS), Natsuki Suda (JPN), Ariane Ochoa (EUK)