What happens when you round up four of the world’s best teenage surfers, set them loose at the world’s best man-made wave and give them a chance to win $10,000? You get the 2018 Quiksilver Young Guns WSL Surf Ranch Showdown.
Started as an Instagram contest in June, it drew over 1000 entries from all corners of the globe. The #YGSurf judges, Leonardo Fioravanti and Kanoa Igarashi, combed all the entries and hand-picked their favorite eight surfers. Those 8 Young Guns were subject to a public voting challenge with the top 3 earning tickets to the WSL Surf Ranch. Leo and Kanoa also hand-picked a wildcard to join them for the final in Lemoore.
And then there were four: Jett Schilling (15) from San Clemente, USA, Samuel Pupo (17) from Maresias, Brazil, Justin Becret (16) from Seignosse, France and Marco Mignot (17) from France but currently residing in Mexico.
The day of surfing started off strong and the Young Guns never looked back. The fun was infectious and the future of surfing was unfolding before everyone’s eyes.
The Showdown used an innovative format that broke the half-mile-long wave at the WSL Surf Ranch into three different sections. In a rotating order, the competitors would position themselves at different points along the pool. Each surfer would catch the wave and do their best before they had to kick out in order to allow the next surfer to get his section of the wave.
The new formula meant two things: the surfers got a ton of opportunities and they always went for broke. Towards the end of the day, each Young Gun also got to surf a few waves from start to finish to see what they could do when the legs start burning.
So, how do you take all that and pick a champion? Simple. The Young Gun who surfs the best wins. And of course, Leo and Kanoa had the final say.
At The Showdown, that kid was Samuel Pupo.
“I’ve competed in this event for the past four years and even won it last year. It’s so much different from all the other contests. It’s always so much fun and I feel like it enables you to surf your best instead of surfing a normal heat. It’s crazy to finish my Young Guns career with a win here.”
Photos by Quiksilver/ Heywood.