The last of seven men's ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) events concluded in New Zealand May 2 with Byron Bay's Soli Bailey claiming the coveted ASP Australasia Junior Championship. Bailey has experienced the highs and lows of professional surfing this season, winning the Rangiroa Pro Junior in French Polynesia, but lost in Round 1 of the very next event.
Bailey truly showed the determination of a champion in New Zealand, showing up and making heats at the last event, despite having six stitches in his foot, to ultimately claim the title.
ASP caught up with Bailey to talk about his title and how he's preparing for the ASP World Junior Championships (WJC) later this year.
Tell us about your 2014 season.
We had some great waves this year and fortunately for me I had some good results to leave me on top. We had events in Australia, Tahiti and New Zealand so you really need to be prepared and on top of travel and preparation. We see some amazing sights and stay with some great people.
Has it sunk in that you've won yet?
It hasn't really sunk in yet, I guess doing this interview makes it feel more real. It's a really huge honor and it's my biggest accomplishment competitively so far. When I lost in New Zealand I thought I blew it, I thought I needed to make one more heat, but turns out that I'd done enough. It's a great feeling.
What does this mean for your career and future?
I think winning the Australasia ASP junior title is a positive thing for my confidence. Competitive surfing has it's ups and downs so hopefully this is the start of a long up. It's motivating me for sure. I'd love to do well at the ASP World Junior Championships and then go into the ASP Qualifying Series events next year on a roll.
You've already been to the ASP WJC, so how does going in as No. 1 change things?
It doesn't change anything for me really. The competition is a tough one with all of the world's best surfers under 21 competing. It's always going to be challenging, if anything there might be some added expectation of me, but I'm not gonna think about that. I'm just going to approach it the way I've been doing other events and hope it all works out. There's also a lot of training and free surfing to be done before then and that's really all I can do.
What are your plans for the rest of 2014?
I'm off to Indonesia for two months. I'm just going to spend a bit of time away from events and go free surfing on some amazing waves, then I'll be home for a little bit and then off to the states for the US Open of Surfing then ASP World Junior Championships. I'm looking forward to all of it.