Under 18 Winners Crowned At Solid Bells Beach On Day 1 Of The Woolworths Junior Surfing Titles Round 1

Published on 02/03/2024

The opening day of the Woolworths Junior Surfing Titles kicked off at the famous Bells Beach, as young surfers took on the challenge of solid 3-4 foot waves. The Under 18s took center stage with the judges rewarding those who faced the larger waves head on as well as those who showed commitment to each turn.

In the opening round of the Under 18 Boys Sam Paterson (Inverloch) put the rest of his competitors on notice as he rode his way to the highest score of the day, an 8.67 point ride. This huge score came off the back of one gigantic turn on a thick end section sending spray flying into the air.

In the Under 18 Girls Quarterfinal Ava Holland (Dromana) set the tone with two hammering turns. This was backed up with another big wave out the back earning her a combined heat total of 15.00 points. 

Similarly in the other Under 18 Girls quarterfinal Sarah Hickson (Rye) attacked multiple sections on a large set that showed a fearless approach to the waves and scored her an 8.33 point ride and a spot in the semifinals. 

Going into the Boys Quarterfinals Tate Russell (Cape Woolamai) put on a backhand clinic going to town on numerous huge sections before heading into a powerful backhand re entry. This ticked all the right boxes in the judging criteria giving Russell an 8.17 point ride. To back this wave up, Russell went into another big backhand hit to earn a 7.63 point ride and gave himself plenty of momentum going into the pointy end of the competition.

After the semifinal match ups were finished the long awaited finals were set and with the incoming tide and a rising swell they were bound to be a tight battle.

As soon as the Under 18 Girls Final started a big set loomed on the horizon and the girls scrambled to get themselves into position. Picking up the biggest wave of the set, and the day, was Ava Holland who dropped to the bottom with ease before going into a swooping bottom and cracking the lip off the top. She then whipped a tight back hand re entry underneath the crashing lip to start the final off with a 8.17 point ride. 

Half way through the final Sara Hickson only had a minor score under her belt however she was able to find a wave that allowed her to put together multiple carving manoeuvres flowing her way to the inside to finish it off with a tidy snap. This wave scored her a 7 point ride and the lead.

Going into the final few minutes Holland had yet to get a backup wave and therefore was only looking for a 2.66 point ride to take the lead back off Hickson.

In the last few seconds of the final Holland (in first priority) was given a shimmer of hope as a set popped up out the back. Unfortunately she only barely missed it as she was sitting just too far out which secured the win for Hickson on a 10.83 point combined heat total.

“It’s really good to surf Bells Beach with only three other girls out as it’s one of my favourite waves,” exclaimed Hickson.

“Ava is one of my best friends so it definitely gets a bit tricky battling it out against her, however it feels super good to take out the win,” she added.

Holland came in second with an 8.17 combined heat total with Mia Holland (Dromana) and Dahlia Feldman (Wallington) placing third and fourth respectively. 

On the other side of the draw in the Under 18 Boys Final, the sets slowed down making every wave count for the surfers. Rye Cicero (Sandy Point) claimed the lead early linking a medium wave to the beach and finishing on a strong close out re entry to score a 5.17 point ride. Max Bassett (Barwon Heads) then took the lead moments after by taking a carving approach and sliding the fins out on the inside to receive a 5.83 point ride and the narrow lead. 

After scoring an early 4 point ride Sam Paterson took off on a set wave and completed a couple of nice manoeuvres before finishing off the wave with an under the lip larry. This scored him a 4.23 point ride and claimed him top spot going into the final couple of minutes. 

In the last minute every surfer got a wave and with such a close battle at hand all scores were sure to be important. Rye Cicero carved and snapped as far as he could, finishing  with a close out re entry literally on the sand. Bassett went to work out the back and banked various turns on a well shaped wave. 

​​After such a close battle and many lead changes the final scores came in with Bassett taking the win by only 0.46 of a point on a combined heat total of 11.20 points. 

“I saw Jarrah get into one with like a minute to go and lucky enough for me there was another one I could get behind it,” he said.

“It 100 percent makes me feel very confident going into the next round at Gunnamatta,” he continued.

Rye Cicero placed in second on a 10.74 combined heat total with Sam Patterson and Jarrah Cicero (Sandy Point) coming in third and fourth.

The call for Day 2 of the Woolworths Junior Surfing Titles is a 7:15am call for a potential 7:30am start at Torquay Point.

Results, scores and the schedule from the event can be accessed via www.surfingvic.com/live

Finals Results:

U18 Girls
1st –  Sarah Hickson (Rye), 10.83
2nd – Ava Holland (Dromana), 8.17
3rd – Mia Holland (Dromana), 4,84
4th – Dahlia Feldman (Wallington, 4.16

U18 Boys
1st – Max Bassett (Barwon Heads), 11.20
2nd – Rye Cicero (Sandy Point), 10.74
3rd – Sam Paterson (Inverloch), 8.23
4th – Jarrah Cicero (Jarrah Cicero), 7.00
The Woolworths Victorian Junior Titles is supported by No TXT No Wrecks, VicRoads Community Safety Grants, Cancer Council Sunscreen and Surfing Victoria.

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