The Vans US Open of Surfing Junior Women's event got their surfing underway following the Men's QS10,000 as opportunities were few and far between in rising tide conditions. However, the up-and-coming surf stars made their debuts with solid performances despite the challenging waves on offer. It was the first opportunity to witness the juniors and how they would respond to the arena-like atmosphere on hand -- something they rose to the occasion for.
Defending champion Caroline Marks (USA) looked in great form to retain her title, winning her Quarterfinal heat debut with an impressive showcase. The 14-year-old posted a win over Australasia Junior Champion Macy Callaghan (AUS) but will face her in the Semifinals once more.
"No matter what I just knew I had to be on the sets even though there were maybe only one or two coming in each heat," Marks said. "Once I got the opportunity I needed, it was great to capitalize on them. I don't feel nervous at all. I'm just pumped off the energy that surrounds this event and really fired up. Hopefully we get some more waves. It'll be nice to have a few days off and hang out with my family. I just want to take it a heat at a time and just enjoy surfing out there. I'm having so much fun."
Earning runner-up behind Marks, Callaghan posted the highest single-wave score of the day with a 7.83. Though out of region, the Australian is excited to be at Huntington Beach and in good form.
"You have to go in there feeling positive and try to find the best ones," Callaghan said. "I haven't surfed since the Supergirl Pro so it was nice to get another heat in and surf twice today. Made a couple mistakes but felt like I was finding my groove out there. This is such a big event and for America to invite me here is really cool. We don't have events like this back home so this is sick."
Kirra Pinkerton (USA) finished the day off with a come-from-behind victory by posting a 5.83 on her last wave needing a 4.66. The 13-year-old talent couldn't believe she came out of her heat and into the Semifinals.
"I just sat away from everyone to catch my first wave and it was so small but I did a turn and then made the reform," Pinkerton said. "I was so fortunate to get that last one with it being so inconsistent. It was so nerve-racking and I wasn't sure I was going to get another chance. I'm very relieved to make it through that heat because if anyone got a wave and made two turns, they would've gotten the score."
Brisa Hennessy has a special relationship with Huntington Beach, particularly in her amateur career she's now been able to translate into a Junior Pro career. Making it through two heats, earning runner-up in both, the Hawaiian up-and-comer overcame North America sensation Meah Collins (USA) to earn a spot into the Semifinals.