Ericeira recently played host to hordes of keen surfers for the Billabong Pro Junior competition – the fourth pro junior contest sponsored by Billabong on the European Pro Junior Tour. This year, the contest took place at the famous break of Ribeira d’Ilhas, with contestants competing in the waves for three consecutive days.
The crème de la crème of European Junior surfers were there in force, all battling it out for much needed points and the 10,000 US dollar prize money. This was the penultimate event of the 2004 tour, so the pressure was certainly on. The contest has a long history of success as top surfers consider it to be the largest on the junior tour. The Billabong Pro Junior is part of the European calendar and one of the eight surf events that will crown the European Junior Champion.
The location for the contest also gives young surfers a really good chance to show off their skills and get a unique opportunity to surf really challenging waves. Last year’s Billabong Pro Junior winner, Tim Boal, declared during one of his last Portuguese surf sessions: “Coming to Portugal and being able to compete in such good waves is an extra motivation for everyone”. Portugal based German surfer, Marlon Lipke, one of this year’s main contenders, and presently number two in the 2004 title race commented: “All these young competitors who spend their year surfing on bad quality waves have a unique opportunity here in Ericeira to surf a point break wave and catch some good surf.”
Waves of up to six feet high carried some of Europe’s finest to victory on the day, with spectators cheering the surfers on under the beautiful sunshine. Billabong team rider Hodei Collazo won the Billabong Pro Junior to huge cheers from the crowd. He came in just ahead of Michel Bourez, Simon Marchand and Txaber Trojaola. According to the organisers, the biggest surprise of the event was the early elimination of Marlon Lipke, who lost his first heat in round 32.
With one more event in the Billabong Pro Junior to take place before the overall winner is crowned, temperatures are hotting up for the surfers, who will all battle it out for the winning place in Peniche between September 24 and 26.