Honolulu’s Josh Moniz, 18, took over the title of Pipe Pro Junior champion from his younger brother Seth today, with a dynamic, never-say-die performance in punchy 6-foot surf. Josh opened the Final with the highest scoring wave and tube-ride of the event – a near-perfect 9.8, and closed with a backhand aerial 360 in the last five seconds to win.
Runner-up was Benji Brand of Haleiwa; third was Spaniard Natxo Gonzalez; and fourth was Seth Moniz. The Pipe Pro Junior is a World Surf League Junior 1,000 event.
From his opening round heat earlier in the week, Josh knew his toughest opponent would likely be Seth, 17, who entered the Pipe Pro Junior as not only the defending champion, but also fresh off a win in the recent Sunset Beach Pro Junior. But as it turned out, the Final became a two-man battle between Josh and his good friend Brand.
Despite his huge opening score, Josh battled to find a back-up ride through much of the 30-minute battle while Brand’s blistering vertical attack chalked up two sevens. With less than a minute on the clock it appeared Brand, 18, would claim his maiden win against the Moniz brothers. But with five seconds remaining, a flawless Hail Mary backside air on a left-hander brought the beach to its feet and delivered Josh 7.0 for the win.
“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.”
Josh was as impressed as anyone on the beach with his clutch air. Doing most of his training in Town – on the South Shore of Oahu – a backside air is a maneuver he rarely practices.
“When I caught the (last) wave I was hoping I’d be able to do three turns and get the score, but it kind of ran away from me. I kind of gave up on it but somehow a little air section came and I did it. I was psyched because I never do backside airs. The wind is usually going into the rights for me in Town, so it was a dream air. I was pretty stoked.”
A long way from home, Bilbao’s Natxo Gonzalez, 19, was stunned to find himself in the Final. With the event so stacked with top up-and-coming professionals, he never imagined it would end in a Top 3 finish. But his performances on the final day of competition were inspiring and well worthy of a berth in the Final.
He eliminated more than a few highly regarded juniors along the way, including: Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI); Barron Mamiya (HAW); Joshua Burke (BRB); and Derek Gomes (VEN).
For the Moniz brothers and Brand, today’s results are vitally important. Come next winter, Hawaii’s top two Juniors will receive berths into the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, the most famous pro surfing series in the world.
All photos Sean Reilly / Freesurf
PIPE PRO JUNIOR MEN’S:
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
H1: Benji Brand; Seth Moniz; Kanoa Igarashi (USA); John Mel (USA)
H2: Josh Moniz; Natxo Gonzalez (EUK); Joshua Burke (BRB); Derek Gomes
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
H4: Natxo Gonzalez (EUK); Josh Moniz; Jake Kelley (USA); Jordy Collins (USA)
Round of 32:
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)
Round of 64:
H1: Tomas Tudela (PER); Luke Shepardson; Shayden Pacarro; Tomas King (CRI)
H2: Ryland Rubens (USA); Skip McCullough (USA); Taylor Clark (USA); Wyatt McHale
H3: Nic Hdez (USA); John Mel (USA); Kain Daly; Timothee Bisso (GLP)
H4: Kalani David; Eala Stewart; Wil Reid (USA); Riley Laing (AUS)
H5: Jake Marshall (USA); Makai McNamara; Noah Collins (USA); Kala Willard
H6: Seth Moniz; Daniel Glenn (USA); Ulualoha Napeahi; Jacob Szekely
H7: Kanoa Igarashi (USA); Benji Brand; Lucca Mesinas Novaro (PER); Hunter Johnson
H8: Colt Ward (USA); Cody Young; Josh Benjoya (USA); Imaikalani Devault
H9: Kona Oliveira; Jordy Collins (USA); Cam Richards (USA); Wilem Banks
H10: Jake Kelley (USA); James Hogan (USA); Joey Johnston; Nolan Rapoza (USA)
H11: Koa Smith; Griffin Colapinto (USA); Noa Mizuno; Jake Constantinidis (AUS)
H12: Landon McNamara; Kaulana Apo; Alex Pendleton; Colin Moran (USA)
H13: Finn McGill; Joshua Burke (BRB); Tyler Gunter (USA); Liam McTigue
H14: Jake Davis (USA); Noe Mar McGonagle (CRI); Tomas Lopez Moreno (ARG)
H15: Natxo Gonzalez (EUK); Derek Gomes (VEN); Elijah Gates; Andrew Jacobson (USA)
H16: Barron Mamiya; Josh Moniz; Lucca Saldivar (PER); Taichi Wakita (JPN)
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.