South African Benji Brand came within five seconds of clinching his first World Surf League (WSL) title at the Pipe Pro Junior in Hawaii yesterday before local Josh Moniz successfully landed a ‘Hail Mary’ 360 degree backhand aerial that earned the Hawaiian the points required to snatch the crown.
Competing in difficult two metre surf that made wave selection critical in the WSL Junior 1000 event, Brand held the lead for the majority of the final by posting a pair of seven-point rides after Moniz had been awarded a near perfect 9.8 out 10 score for his opening ride, a deep tube in the Backdoor section at Pipeline.
“After my nine I knew my chances of winning were pretty good, because people were winning all day with about 13 points,” said Josh. “But once I got it, I had a weird feeling… I just couldn’t find a wave the whole heat. I know Benji so good. He’s so good at finding little waves when it’s like this, and he got his two sevens and I got pretty freaked out.”
But Moniz’s never-say-die attitude saw the 18 year-old from Honolulu add the Pipe Pro Junior title to the Sunset Beach Pro Junior crown he won last month. He, Brand and his younger brother Seth Moniz are now amongst the favourites to secure the two berths for Hawaii’s top Juniors in the yearend Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the most prestigious title in surfing after the WSL World Title.
Brand, who turned 19 last month, has represented South Africa on numerous occasions as a junior but is also regarded as a Hawaiian as his family have homes in Kommetjie and Haleiwa, Hawaii. He defeated a host of the world’s best surfers aged 20-and-under while advancing through four rounds of competition to reach the final of the Pipe Pro Junior.
PIPE PRO JUNIOR
1st – Josh Moniz (HAW) – 16.8 points (9.8, 7.0); $2,000; 1000 ratings points
2nd – Benji Brand (HAW) – 14.4 (7.15, 7.25); $900; 750 ratings points
3rd – Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) – 8.6 (5.5, 3.1); $600; 560 ratings points
4th – Seth Moniz (HAW) – 6.05 (3.25, 2.8); $300; 525 ratings points
Semi-Finals: (Top 2 advance, 3rd & 4th eliminated)
H1: Benji Brand; Seth Moniz; Kanoa Igarashi (USA); John Mel (USA)
H2: Josh Moniz; Natxo Gonzalez (EUK); Joshua Burke (BRB); Derek Gomes (VEN)
Quarter Finals: (Top 2 advance, 3rd & 4th eliminated)
H1: Seth Moniz; John Mel (USA); Makai McNamara; Luke Shepardson
H2: Kanoa Igarashi (USA); Benji Brand; Tomas Tudela (PER); Nic Hdez (USA)
H3: Joshua Burke (BRB); Derek Gomes (VEN); James Hogan (USA); Griffin Colapinto (USA)
H4: Natxo Gonzalez (EUK); Josh Moniz; Jake Kelley (USA); Jordy Collins (USA)
Round of 32: (Top 2 advance, 3rd & 4th eliminated)
H1: John Mel (USA); Tomas Tudela (PER); Eala Stewart; Ryland Rubens (USA)
H2: Luke Shepardson; Nic Hdez (USA); Kalani David; Skip McCullough (USA)
H3: Benji Brand; Seth Moniz; Cody Young; Jake Marshall (USA)
H4: Kanoa Igarashi (USA); Makai McNamara; Daniel Glenn (USA); Colt Ward (USA)
H5: Griffin Colapinto (USA); Jake Kelley (USA); Kona Oliveira; Kaulana Apo
H6: James Hogan (USA); Jordy Collins (USA); Koa Smith; Landon McNamara
H7: Josh Moniz; Derek Gomes (VEN); Jake Davis (USA); Finn McGill
H8: Natxo Gonzalez (EUK); Joshua Burke (BRB); Barron Mamiya; Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI)
About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL) organizes the annual tour of professional surf competitions and broadcasts each event live at WorldSurfLeague.com where you can experience the athleticism, drama and adventure of competitive surfing — anywhere and anytime it’s on. The WSL sanctions and operates the following tours: the Junior Tour, Longboard Tour, the Qualifying Series (QS), the Big Wave Tour and the crown jewel of the sport, the WSL Championship Tour (CT) which determines the sport’s undisputed world champions. The organization is headquartered in Santa Monica, California with Commercial Offices in New York. The offices are supported by regional centers in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Hawaii, North America and South America.
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