Gallery, Recap and Results from the 4th Annual Quickblade Jr. Pro and Youth SUPFiesta Presented by Infinity SUP
“Dang, that Australian kid is fast!”
SUPFiesta co-founder and organizer Anthony Vela proclaimed as he watched the event’s breakthrough champ, Harry Maskell, lead the oldest pack of paddlers around the event’s main race--the Flying Mile--during last weekend’s kids-only elite SUP surf and race event in Newport Beach--the 4th annual Quickblade Jr Pro and Youth SupFiesta presented by Infinity.
“Hey man! What’s your name?” race favorite Noa Hopper asked the hard-charging Aussie on his way to a dark horse victory.
By the time the final hooter sounded the following day at the Quickblade Jr. Pro Invitational surf competition, Maskell’s name was well-known among competitors and crowd alike. Judging from his performance this past weekend, it won’t be long until the entire industry will know his name.
Over the years, SUPFiesta has gained a reputation for launching the careers of some of the sport’s biggest stars; Izzi Gomez, Fiona Wylde, and Mo Freitas have all participated in the youth showcase. And the 2016 SUPFiesta appears to have upheld the tradition with a new crop of promising young paddlers.
What makes SUPFiesta so special is the diversity and youth of the athletes. 72 groms representing six different countries competed at this year’s event. Unlike years prior, the competition was split into two days this year-racing on Saturday and surfing on Sunday-so the athletes could focus on only one discipline per day.
The Grand Prix
The action kicked off on a breezy Saturday afternoon at the Newport Aquatic Center, home of the SUPFiesta Grand Prix races. With two separate events-the Flyin’ Mile and SUP Scramble- several age divisions and a massive collection of the world’s top groms, it was sure to be an exciting afternoon of racing.
With moderate winds making for a challenging upwind sprint to the finish, several races went down to the wire with paddlers separated by mere seconds. However, perhaps no race was closer than the boys 15-17 division, where Californian Noa Hopper and Australian Harry Maskell-both 17 years old-went head-to-head in both the Flyin’ Mile and the SUP Scramble.
“We were both pushing each other the whole way,” Hopper said.
While it was Hopper who would edge out Maskell in the Flyin’ Mile, the SUP scramble (the tie-breaker race) saw the roles reverse and this time it was the Aussie who held off the Californian to claim the overall win.
“I just started getting into SUP racing so this is a surprise,” Maskell said. “I really liked the format today because they were both short courses, but being back-to-back really hammers you.”
Meanwhile, the 15-17 girls division saw local SUP prodigy Shae Foudy dominate both races en route to a win in her final SUPFiesta Grand Prix.
“The wind was definitely a bit of a factor but it was a good race,” Foudy said. “It’s really nice to be part of an all-kids event and to see the younger generation competing.”
It wasn’t just the older groms who impressed; Trevor Bashor put on a dominate performance in the boys 12-14 division and Trevor Mencinsky lived up to his nickname-The Flyin’ Squirrel-by winning the boys 8 and under category for the second straight year. Meanwhile, the girls 12-14 division saw a tight competition with Lexi Alston narrowly grabbing the sweep.
Afterwards, the kids were all smiles playing volleyball, eating tacos, and collecting plenty of free SUP merchandise from the event’s many generous sponsors. A testament to the great event put on every year by Candice Appleby and Anthony Vela.
Jr. Pro Invitational
On Sunday, the competition headed up to Bolsa Chica State Beach for the highly-anticipated Jr. Pro Invitational surfing contest. With morning glass and waves in the waist-chest high range (equating to overhead surf for the smaller groms), all were itching to get out into the water.
Morning heats saw several high-scoring waves from the emerging stars, as they took full advantage of the clean conditions. The afternoon brought high winds and challenging conditions, but that hardly phased the groms. This was their event and they intended to put on a show.
The Jr. Pro semi-finals did exactly that, with several last-minute lead changes and impressive performances from our sport’s future stars. In the end, Maskell and Japan’s female SUPFiesta champ Yuuka Horikoshi made the most of sloppy conditions to win the Jr. Pro Invitational in style. While they both credited windy conditions at their home breaks for giving them the edge to win, both victors surfed with impressive ability that forecasted a promising future.
Meanwhile, there were plenty of head-turning performances in the age group surf contest as well. Finn Spencer--younger brother to Canadian SUP surfing champ, 15-year-old Jeffrey Spencer--swept the boys 12-14 division while Lake Tahoe’s Delila Quinn earned the girl’s Breaththrough Performer Award thanks to a breakthrough showing in a stacked girl’s 12-14 division.
#SUPFiesta16 Full Results