|Isabella Nichols (AUS), 18, has won the Ericeira World Junior Championships, claiming the World Junior Champion titles in clean three-to-four foot waves at the pristine Ribeira d’Ilhas point break.
Isabella Nichols. Photo WSL
Isabella Nichols (AUS) started building early in her final with an excellent 8.93 to apply pressure on her opponent and quickly backed it up. The young Australian kept building momentum and dropped an incredible 9.37 for her polished aggressive forehand attack on the long Ribeira walls. With a solid 18.30 combined heat total, Nichols’ claimed the win over reigning World Junior Champion Maeda.
“I’m so happy, I don’t even know what to say I’m speechless,” an emotional Nichols said. “I was lucky to get those two waves, I didn’t know what was happening cause we couldn’t hear any scores. When I heard I had a good lead I started to calm down a bit and nothing really came through after that. It was the longest heat of my life for sure.”
An uncharacteristic slow start left Mahina Maeda (HAW), 17, chasing scores in the final while her opponent kept choosing the right waves in the clean lineup. Despite being one of the strongest surfers all week in Portugal, Maeda couldn’t match her rival’s rhythm and placed runner-up.
“It’s definitely been a great event, a lot of ups and downs but I’ve learned a lot,” Maeda said. “It’s funny every time I’m in a heat with Bella she beats me but I keep on learning from my mistakes. Getting a second place here will definitely make me hungrier for the future and the upcoming season. I love this place, this country and I’ll definitely be back next year.”
Teresa Bonvalot (PRT), 16, claimed the highest result for a Portuguese surfer in this year’s Ericeira World Junior Championships with an equal third place finish, unable to overcome reigning World Junior Champion Maeda in their semifinal clash. The young Portuguese will have another opportunity to battle at the World Junior Championships in 2017 as she can still compete under the new age rule.