SEASIDE REEF, San Diego, Calif., USA (Friday, January 13, 2023) - Today, Francisca Veselko (PRT) and Jarvis Earle (AUS) claimed respective victories at the SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Hosted by Best Western, earning the 2022 World Junior Titles and spots into the 2023 Challenger Series. The swell built throughout Finals Day with six-to-eight, occasional ten-foot and bigger sets challenging the competitors. Veselko and Earle rose to the occasion to produce world-class performances.
Pictured:From left to right: 2022 Junior World Champions Jarvis Earle (AUS) and Francisca Veselko (PRT).Credit: © WSL / Morris
One of the biggest sets of the day pulsed through the lineup to start the women’s Finals. Veselko sent herself over the ledge but did not get a score of value as she raced the closeout wave. San Clemente’s Sawyer Lindblad (USA) answered with a brilliant forehand blast and quick down carve before kicking out as the wave imploded, earning a 5.83 (out of a possible 10).
Lindblad controlled a majority of the heat and left her Portuguese competitor needing a 6.86. With seven minutes to go, Veselko found an opportunity and laid down her powerful backhand to earn a 7.00, overtaking the lead and winning the event. She now makes history as Portugal’s first-ever women’s World Junior Champion. “I’m mind blown, I came in as a wildcard, and I’m super thankful for the opportunity, and I just had a feeling I was going to win this contest,” said Veselko. “Everything’s been going perfect each heat, and the scores have just been building. I was feeling content, and even though I fell on the inside, I knew I could turn it around.” Veselko steamrolled her way through Finals Day at Seaside Reef, starting with a commanding victory against event threat Erin Brooks (CAN) in the Quarterfinals.
The Portuguese talent then bested Australia’s 15-year-old phenom Sierra Kerr (AUS) with a 14.50 heat total in the Semifinals. Veselko then went on to beat Southern California’s own Lindblad.
The men’s Final kicked off with an in-form Jarvis Earle (AUS) getting a quick start, earning a 5.50. Levi Slawson (USA) answered back with a powerful backhand finish to accrue a 6.67. But Earle wasn’t going down without a fight and unleashed his powerful forehand on a running left-hander to post a 7.50. The 18-year-old wasn’t done yet and performed brilliantly again to earn a near-perfect 9.50 and Final’s Day best, 17.00 heat total. Earle now cements himself in Australia surfing’s illustrious history.
“This was such an insane competition, and everyone was ripping, so to win it means a lot, and it doesn’t even feel real right now,” said Earle. “The opportunity to get a spot into the Challenger Series was definitely a big reason for coming to this event. I’ve been going pretty good on the regional QS, and now I’ve got that spot, so that I couldn’t be more happy. Levi (Slawson) was ripping all event, and I knew that’d be a good Final, so I just stuck to what I’d been doing today.”
Earle steadily made his way through the competition before unleashing the event’s highest single-scoring wave of a 9.93 in the Quarterfinals against fellow Australian Oscar Berry. The Cronulla competitor carried that tone into the Semifinals against event standout Alan Cleland (MEX).
The two traded off in their battle for a Finals appearance, with Earle ultimately overpowering Cleland and earning the spot to take on Slawson for a World Junior Title. Earle’s victory adds to Australia’s illustrious World Junior Title list, joining the likes of Joel Parkinson (AUS), Ethan Ewing (AUS), and more. He now prepares for the 2023 Challenger Series.
Southern Californian’s Dream Runs End With Runner-Up Finishes
Eventual runner-up Lindblad started off her Finals Day campaign in dominant form, earning an excellent 8.93 over Peru’s Sol Aguirre (PER). The Peruvian fought back with an 8.17, but Lindblad’s final attempt of the heat was more than enough to see her into the Semifinals against local hero Alyssa Spencer (USA). Spencer maintained the lead heading into the last 10 minutes before suffering a laceration to her face, forcing her to leave the water. Lindblad was left in the lineup alone and overcame the requirement once again, posting a 7.21 and moving into the Final against Veselko.
“It was really fun, and I love this wave,” said Lindblad. “I was just really happy they ran this contest so close to home. I’m happy with my performance this week, and it was an amazing experience.”
Pictured:One of Southern California's rising talents, Levi Slawson (USA), held down his home ground all the way to the finals.Credit: © WSL / Morris
Local hero, Slawson narrowly escaped elimination in his Quarterfinal matchup against an in-form Kauli Vaast (FRA) to start his Finals Day. Vaast controlled a majority of the heat, but with six minutes to go, Slawson responded with a 7.50 and a 7.00 to overtake the lead. Slawson carried that momentum straight into the Semifinals against another event threat, Eli Hanneman (HAW).
Slawson came from behind once more, this time dropping a near-perfect 9.00 to take the lead before solidifying the victory with a 7.60. But, he couldn’t find that magic to take down Earle in the Final, finishing runner-up.
“It felt amazing and this whole was such a pleasure to be here, and of course surf good which was the biggest thing for me,“ said Slawson. “To have everybody here finally was incredible. I grew up here, I learned how to surf here and I wanted to win for the hometown but that was maybe the most worked I’ve ever got in my life. I’m super happy for Jarvis (Earle), he’s an amazing kid, amazing surfer, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year now.”
SAMBAZON World Junior Championship Women’s Final Results:
1 - Francisca Veslelko (PRT) 12.47
2 - Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 12.33
SAMBAZON World Junior Championship Men’s Final Results:
1 - Jarvis Earle (AUS) 17.00
2 - Levi Slawson (USA) 11.60
SAMBAZON World Junior Championship Women’s Semifinal Results:
Heat 1: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 13.07 DEF. Alyssa Spencer (USA) 11.77
Heat 2: Francisca Veselko (PRT) 14.33 DEF. Sierra Kerr (AUS) 12.50
SAMBAZON World Junior Championship Men’s Semifinal Results:
Heat 1: Levi Slawson (USA) 16.60 DEF. Eli Hanneman (HAW) 15.33
Heat 2: Jarvis Earle (AUS) 13.23 DEF. Alan Cleland (MEX) 12.50
SAMBAZON World Junior Championship Women’s Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Alyssa Spencer (USA) 7.93 DEF. Laura Raupp (BRA) 7.60
Heat 2: Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 15.10 DEF. Sol Aguirre (PER) 14.17
Heat 3: Francisca Veselko (PRT) 13.33 DEF. Erin Brooks (CAN) 9.67
Heat 4: Sierra Kerr (AUS) 13.77 DEF. Zahli Kelly (AUS) 10.76
SAMBAZON World Junior Championship Men’s Quarterfinal Results:
Heat 1: Eli Hanneman (HAW) 16.00 DEF. Brodi Sale (HAW) 10.07
Heat 2: Levi Slawson (USA) 14.50 DEF. Kauli Vaast (FRA) 14.00
Heat 3: Jarvis Earle (AUS) 16.70 DEF. Oscar Berry (AUS) 10.60
Heat 4: Alan Cleland (MEX)14.36 DEF. Jackson Bunch (HAW) 12.70The SAMBAZON World Junior Championships Hosted by Best Western are proudly supported by Sambazon, Best Western, Sports San Diego, Board and Brew, Pura Vida, Sun Diego, and Red Bull.
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.