OAKLEY PRO JUNIOR GLOBAL CHALLENGE QUALIFYING SERIES HITS HALFWAY POINT
FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif., May 14, 2009 – With three events complete and three to go, the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Qualifying Series has hit the official halfway mark qualifying six surfers, so far, for the elite 18-man final field. The series of six international qualifying events, worth a cumulative $165,000 in prize money, culminates in one massive championship event, worth an additional $75,000 ($20,000 for first place), in Bali, Indonesia, October 7-17, 2009.
The 2009 Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Qualifying Series kicked off in February at North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia where Owen Wright (AUS) and Jadson Andre (BRA) finished in first and second, respectively, to qualify.
Lower Trestles, San Clemente, California hosted stop two and served as the only U.S. qualifier for the series. Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Junior Champion Kai Barger (Haiku, HI) took first and Davey Cathels (AUS) second, qualifying them both for the final.
Running concurrently with the North American Qualifier earlier this month, the South Africa event advanced two additional top juniors to Bali, Shaun Joubert (ZAF) and Brendon Gibbens (ZAF).
Barger and Joubert are returning to compete for their second consecutive year in the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Final in Bali. Both surfed in the inaugural event in 2008. Joubert qualified in South Africa last year and finished an impressive equal third in Bali. Barger was awarded one of the coveted six wildcards into the 2008 event and finished equal ninth.
Upon winning the South Africa Qualifier this year, Joubert said: “I really just wanted to make it to Bali again. I don’t want to make any big calls about myself in Bali because there are so many amazing surfers and it could go your way or theirs. So obviously, I’m just hoping it goes my way and I get a good result.”
“Qualifying for Bali is what I’m most stoked about,” said Kai Barger after winning the Trestles event and solidifying his ticket to Bali. “That’s the best event on the planet. I’m so stoked. I can’t believe I’m going back!”
First-time qualifiers Wright, Andre, Cathels and Gibbens are excited to make their first appearance at the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge Final. With momentum continuing to build around the world with word-of-mouth hype and viral video footage, juniors are clamoring to qualify for the unique contest that boasts an opportunity for international experience, significant prize money, a small competitive field and an ideal location.
“I’ve seen the footage of last year’s challenge and it looked unreal,” said Wright after winning the Australia Qualifier. “It’s really sunk in that I’m going. [The Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge] is where it’s at.”
Cathels was so determined to qualify that a third-place finish in Australia (not good enough to qualify) led him halfway around the globe to the U.S. Qualifier at Lowers Trestles, and a second chance. He succeeded, salvaging a second-place finish, topping Southern California’s Dillon Perillo (Malibu, CA), to earn his qualification.
For Gibbens, who earned qualification at his local South Africa Qualifier, the chance to travel to Bali is a major milestone in his burgeoning young career. “I saw video footage of what went down in Keramas last year and it looks like an amazing event,” said Gibbens. “I’m really happy to have made it! I’ve never really had any international exposure, so it’s a big personal achievement for me to finally get an opportunity to surf overseas.”
The next qualifying event will be at Balneario de Camboriu, Brazil, May 19-24, followed by Shidashita Point, Chiba, Japan, Aug. 7-9, and finally, Grand Plage, Lacanau, Gironde, France, Aug. 13-17.
The top two finishers at each of the qualifying events earn a spot into the final event. Six have already qualified, six more will qualify at the remaining three events, and six additional juniors, one of which will be determined during a local trial in Bali, will be issued wildcards to round out a field of 18 and ensure that the talent at the final event is representative of the best juniors in the world.
“With three events done and three remaining, wildcard talks are in progress,” said Oakley Surf Marketing Manager Ronny Nelson. “After the only U.S. qualifier at Lowers, there’s still not one athlete from mainland U.S.A. qualified for the event. We have our eyes on a few guys and have a few names in the hat, and we’re watching to see how they do over the next couple of months before we announce our decision.”
The Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge is a unique specialty series launched by Oakley in 2008 to give young surfers the opportunity to compete at some of the best surfing locales around the world. After a hugely successful inaugural year, the series has stirred up significant buzz, and qualifying has become a goal for many of the world’s top juniors.