Newport Beach Delivers to Determine Finals Day Draw at RVCA Pro Junior pres. by Jack’s Surfboards and Banzai Bowls

Courtesy of WSL North America News

  • 56th Street Jetty Provides Scoring Spectacle on Opening Day
  • Matson and Simmers Continue to Surge as North America No. 1’s 
  • Contenders, Lindblad Siblings Showcase Potential to Shift the Rankings
  • More Available At
CAPTION: Nick Marshall (USA) saved the best for last and matched the day’s highest score of an 8.83 in his Quarterfinal Heat 4 at the RVCA Pro Junior pres. by Jack’s Surfboards and Banzai Bowls.
CREDIT: © WSL / Andrew Nichols

NEWPORT BEACH, California/USA (Friday, September 27, 2019) – Opening day provided plenty of critical action at the World Surf League (WSL) RVCA Pro Junior presented by Jack’s Surfboards, the third stop for North America’s women and fourth stop for men, with Newport Beach, Califronia’s, 56th Street Jetty delivering two-to-four foot swell. Tough morning conditions turned to dreamy, lefthanders peeling off the jetty that women put on a display of excellent performances in before top-seeded men debuted. Competition scorched through men’s Round 1, 2, 3 and Quarterfinals as the women battled through their Quarterfinal draw to set up a heavily-implicated finals day.

Contenders Prepared to Fight, Lindblad Siblings Thrive

Pictured: Sawyer Lindblad continues to impress in her first, full season on the Pro Junior Tour.
Credit: WSL/ Nichols

Last year’s No. 2 ranked Samantha Sibley (USA) debuted with a brilliant showcase to begin a run toward back-to-back wins in Newport Beach. But it was Sawyer Lindblad (USA) who stole the show in the heat prior as she continues a breakout year among the Pro Junior contingent. This marks Lindblad’s first full year taking on the WSL and has proven she’s ready to begin mixing it up with the region’s best with an equal 9th in Florida and Semifinal finish at the Vans US Open of Surfing.

“The waves are super fun and it’s just my second time surfing this break so I was psyched to do well,” Lindblad said. “I surfed here yesterday morning and I noticed you just had to sit by the jetty to wait for the peelers to come through. Sometimes like yesterday morning when it’s bumpy it’s harder to surf but today was all-time. My brother (Taj) has been surfing in these events for about two years now and I’ve just been getting excited to do them watching him compete so it’s really fun.”

Pictured: Sawyer’s older brother Taj found some magic of his own when needed most.
Credit: WSL./ Nichols

After a brilliant display in Round 3 with the day’s highest single-scoring wave of an 8.83, Pro Junior rookie Tex Mitchell (USA) couldn’t keep that pace against some of North America’s best – facing elimination by current No. 3 Jett Schilling (USA) and Lindblad’s brother Taj. The elder Lindblad sibling surged in his Round 3 debut but looked on his way out of competition until the final seconds in Quarterfinal Heat 3 needing a 6.48 and garnering a 6.93 to go from third-place to first and earn a third Semifinals appearance in 2019 at the buzzer.

“It meant a lot to me because my goal is to make WSL Junior Championships and I had that in my mind the entire heat,” Lindblad said. “It got me fired up to get the score on my last one. [Through my experience this year] I learned that I need to get the best waves of the heat and get a good backup. The last two Semifinals I lost were due to a small backup score so that is what I’ve been working on.”

Pictured: After landing one of the best air’s of his young career, Alan Cleland nearly doubled-down with this follow-up.
Credit: Nichols

Mexico’s breakthrough talent of 2019 Alan Cleland continues his impressive run through events and heads to a third Pro Junior Finals day appearance of the season. The Pascuales native is no stranger to pulsing conditions and threw caution to the wind with an incredible backside air-reverse to garner a 7.83 on the one major maneuver. Cleland’s, 17, mindset has shifted since first giving the Pro Juniors a full run in 2018 and has carried that confidence to a successful year that he’s hoping to cap off with bigger aspirations.

“I’ve been having a blast today just with the waves being so fun and my goal is to get into that Top 3 – hopefully try and get my first win here but who knows,” Cleland said. “That was probably the best backside air I’ve ever done in my life to be honest, I had no idea I was going to land it. I’d be stoked just to make the next heat and go from there. Hopefully it just goes my way and I’ve learned to just have fun, keep a smile on my face whether it’s a win or a loss and that’s all I’ve been doing. It’s great to have my dad giving me advice in heats and also tells me to stay calm which always helps me.”

North America No. 1’s Continue Their Reign into Finals Day

Pictured: Caitlin Simmers looked in unstoppable form once more with a WSL jersey on as she overpowered her way into the Semifinals. 
Credit: WSL/ Nichols

Both current North America Pro Junior No. 1 Caitlin Simmers (USA) and No. 2 Bree Smith (USA) powered their way into the Semifinals with a dominant performance from Simmers in her debut heat – accruing the women’s best single-wave score of 8.50 (out of a possible 10) and heat total, a 15.83 (out of a possible 20). A win would solidify Simmers’ flawless season and secure her first-ever North American Regional Pro Junior title, something she has her eyes locked in on.

“The waves are really fun so I’m just happy to make it through the heat after it looked bad earlier,” Simmers said. “It looked kind of bad this morning so I was glad we started later. It’s really cool to make it into another finals day and hopefully I can win this one too.”

Pictured: Fellow No. 1 Kade Matson also showcased his will to take down a third win in 2019 with a dominant opening day performance. 
Credit: WSL/ Nichols
Fellow No. 1 Kade Matson (USA) made work of the lefthanders that began pulsing in his Round 3 debut and continued that form into the Quarterfinals with a 15.96 heat total. Matson sits in the same position as Simmers, a win would secure his maiden Regional Pro Junior title, but his focus remains laser-sharp on the task at hand while enjoying the moment.
“This is definitely a nerve-racking contest because I want to win the season but not really trying to think about it too much,” Matson said. “I was stoked to make a few heats today and you just have to go out and have fun. Everyone’s in the same conditions and I was not expecting to get pumping waves today after it was so small yesterday so this was amazing.”

Also into the Semifinals, opening day standout Nick Marshall (USA) matched the day’s best single-wave score of an 8.83 and blasted the day’s highest heat total of 16.66, Blake Speir (USA) earned his first Semifinal appearance of 2019 along with Jabe Swiercocki (USA), and North America threat Taro Watanabe (USA)

For the women, Lilie Kulber (USA) made her WSL debut in terrific fashion alongside Pro Junior standouts Serena Nava (USA), Makena Burke (USA), and recent WRV Outer Banks Pro QS 1,000 runner-up Ella McCaffray (USA).

Competition will be off tomorrow as the event coincides with the 31st annual City of Newport Beach Surfing Championships that features local legends along with the community’s next generation of surfers. 

The women’s RVCA Pro Junior Semifinals will begin Sunday, September 29, at 10am PDT. 

The RVCA Pro Junior presented by Jack’s Surfboards and Banzai Bowls will run September 27 – 29 at 56th Street Jetty, Newport Beach, California. 
RVCA Pro Junior Upcoming Women’s Semifinal Matchups:
SF 1: Caitlin Simmers (USA), Lili Kulber (USA), Sawyer Lindblad (USA), Serena Nava (USA)
SF 2: Ella McCaffray (USA), Makena Burke (USA), Samantha Sibley (USA), Bree Smith (USA)
RVCA Pro Junior Upcoming Men’s Semifinals Matchups:
SF 1: Kade Matson (USA), Blake Spier (USA), Alan Cleland (MEX), Taro Watanabe (USA)
SF 2: Taj Lindblad (USA), Jett Schilling (USA), Nick Marshall (USA), Jabe Swierkocki (USA)  
About the WSL 
The World Surf League (WSL) is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The organization, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, annually running more than 230 global events across the Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Redbull Airborne, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed Men’s and Women’s World Champions across all tours.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, John Florence, Lakey Peterson, Grant Baker, Keala Kennelly, Paige Alms, Kai Lenny, Steven Sawyer, Soleil Errico, Mateus Herdy, Kirra Pinkerton, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Courtney Conlogue and more battle on the most dynamic field of play of any global sport. For more information, please visit

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