The second event of the SSF Junior Series 2021 took place at Dunnet Beach near Thurso in Caithness this weekend where competitors were greeted with a flat calm bay at checkin on Saturday the 28th of August but by 11am the event was called on as conditions improved slightly as the tide and swell filled in.
Conditions continued to improve for the groms throughout the afternoon and fortunately so with so many heats to get through in the U12, U14, U16 Boys, U16 Girls, U18 Boys and U18 Girls divisions.
Riley Whyte (BSC) was a standout in the U12 division on the Saturday posting a 12.93pts heat total in his semi final heat as were Gabriel Noble (BSC) and Jago Tasker (ENG) (all the way from the Isle of Wight) in the U14 Division – both posting excellent scores in round 1.
Sunday brought some much improved surf for finals day allowing competitors to really display their full repertoire. There were fantastic exchanges and nail biting heat finishes in all divisions but the U16 semi final was one of the heats of the day between local lad Craig McLachlan (NSSC) and Jago Tasker (ENG). Jago, who had been selecting the better waves of the heat, had Craig on the ropes in the dying minutes with a 12.67pts heat total but Craig held his nerve and flipped the heat just in time with a 7.5pt wave score to take the lead but both progressed into the final. It would be no surprise that Craig would go on to win both the U16 Boys and U18 Boys finals. Craig now also tops the U16s series leaderboard along with Max Miller-Cooley (ENG) from England with one event win each and Craig shares the top spot on the U18s series leaderboard with Tiree’s Ben Larg (TSC) also with one event win each.
Ben Kobedza (MFSR) was a standout in the U14s semi finals posting 4 excellent scores in his semi finals heat (2 of which were above 9pt!) for some very powerful backhand snaps but he couldn’t show the same form in the final and Jago Tasker (ENG) would go on to take the win with Ben runner up. Gabriel Noble was also a standout in the U14s division and was unlucky to have been eliminated in the semis despite a heat total of 12.83pts, due to a stacked semi alongside Ben and eventual winner Jago.
The U12s had the best final which went right down to the wire with Belhaven Surf Club’s Ansel Parkin (BHSC) taking the lead in the dying seconds over Broch Surf Club’s Sebastian Ballantyne (BSC) by a tiny margin. Final results were Ansel 10.50pts and Sebastian 10.33pts.
Despite the quarter final finish at this event, Evan Whyte (BSC) remains top of the U12s and U14s series leaderboards with his double victory in Tiree followed closely by fellow Brochers Callie & Kai Cruickshank (BSC) in the U12s and Lola Mitchel (BSC) and Kai Cruickshank (BSC) in the U14s.
On the girls side Olivia MacKay (NSSC) would take her first ever SSF event win in the U16 girls, narrowly defeating fellow North Shore Surf Club member and one of the category favourites Nadia Murray (NSSC). Olivia’s big arcing cut-backs being her go-to manoeuvre to impress the judges. Nadia has taken the series lead in the U16 girls at this last event however.
Nadia would redeem herself in the U18 girls to defeat division favourite and current Scottish National U18 Girls champ Natalie Kobedza (MFSR), who would be runner up, in another closely fought heat. Nadia dominated the heat for the most part until towards the end of the heat Natalie performed the best re-entry seen all day by the girls to give her the highest wave score of the heat, but she still needed a backup to take the lead. Natalie picked off what looked to be the best wave of the heat in the dying seconds – a righthander – she got loads of speed on the well walled wave and it looked to be all over for Nadia, but Natalie couldn’t hold her nerve and complete her closing turn and missed out on the score required. With a 1st place in Tiree and now Thurso Nadia has a convincing lead in the U18 girls series with 3 events remaining, the final event of which is the Scottish Nationals in Sandend (best 3 results count).
4-man priority and live scores throughout the weekend kept the crowded beach entertained all weekend as well as a social event and food by Taco East on the Saturday night. An international panel of judges and officials from Scotland, England, Australia and Indonesia ensured a fair and professional event was run and the Scottish Surfing Federation would like to thank the North Shore Surf Club and all volunteers for their fantastic support and Duncan McLachlan for the fantastic photos.