McGill earns World Junior Championship; Macedo takes 2nd

  • Dunbar / WSL

    Hawaii’s Finn McGill gets chaired up the beach after winning the 2018 World Junior Championship at Kiama, New South Wales, Australia, after he defeated Joh Azuchi of Japan in the final. In the women’s event, Maui’s Summer Macedo came close to giving Hawaii a clean sweep, as she finished runner-up.

First off, I’d like to say that I’m glad Saturday morning’s “mishap” was just that. Hopefully nobody was hurt or panicked too severely, but I know I was ill-prepared had it been a real situation.

But thankfully it was just a false alarm or human error or whatever the official explanation ends up being, so we can go back to discussing things far less important.

It will be a shock if Finn McGill doesn’t soon become one of the most dangerous and consistent performers on the men’s Qualifying Series. The 17-year-old from Oahu continued to track in that direction as he surfed his way to a title at the World Junior Championship this past week in New South Wales, Australia.

McGill, whose middle name is Thunders, has certainly been making quite a bit of noise at all levels during his brief tenure in the surfing limelight. His success in Hawaii events and specifically at Pipeline have elevated his name recognition. At one time, he was just Dax McGill’s younger brother, but Finn is now a name the pros know very well.

Having now proven himself as the top junior in the world, McGill will look to begin his quest for some more pro success. His sample size on the QS is limited, but he did take second place at last year’s Sunset Open at Sunset Beach. It’s just a QS 1,000 event, but it usually draws many of the best Hawaii surfers. He can look to better his previous finish by one spot at this year’s Sunset Open, which begins on Thursday.

McGill managed to outpoint Japan’s Jon Azuchi in the final heat after already knocking out Joao Chianca in the semifinals and Barron Mamiya in the quarters. Mamiya and Cody Young each took equal fifth-place finishes with their quarterfinal appearances.

It isn’t expected that McGill will enjoy the rapid trajectory that last year’s World Junior champion, Ethan Ewing, enjoyed following his victory. Ewing qualified for the Championship Tour and was able to surf with the world’s best throughout the 2017 season. He wasn’t able to re-qualify and he’ll need to put the work in again on the QS this year, but his jump from Junior champ to CT regular showed how quickly the change can occur.

There was almost a clean sweep for Hawaii as Maui’s Summer Macedo reached the final heat of the women’s World Junior Championship. Also just 17, Macedo has seen a similar rise in both success and attention over the last year. She’s been picking up big finishes all over the globe, including this past October when she and younger brother, Ocean, each won the Hurley Pro Junior on the North Shore.

Macedo took down fellow Hawaii wahine Zoe McDougall in the quarterfinal round, then topped Japan’s Minori Kawai in the semifinals. But Tahiti’s Vahine Fierro, another name to be aware of, got off to a great start in the final and took the World Junior Championship crown.

Macedo jumped all the way to 35th in the world during the 2017 QS season, so her path to the CT seems to still be distant but inevitable. Breaking into that top six is a difficult task for even the most “sure-thing” juniors. But Macedo has a knack for making heats and her results should only improve from here.

With McGill’s win, Macedo’s runner-up finish and McDougall, Mamiya and Young all making deep runs, Hawaii was well represented in the junior ranks. It’s a great sign for what’s to come in the future.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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