The surfing action was hotter than ever at North Stradbroke Island today, with day three of the ASP grade 5 Oakley Pro Junior being run in 2-3ft (0.8-1.0m) beach break waves at Main Beach.
After a delayed start, the world’s hottest teenagers went toe-to-toe in the race for the final 24 spots in the draw, tubing, boosting and hacking their way across round three of competition.
Australian ace Owen Wright (Lennox Head) is on track for back-to-back pro junior victories after eliminating fellow Australian Mitch Crews (Currumbin) and highly rated Frenchman Marc Lacomare (Hossegor) from the $30,000 tournament.
Reinforcing his status as the country’s ‘Great White’ surfing hope, the blonde-haired goofy foot let rip in the reeling conditions, netting a 7.25 and a 6.50 to finish in line honours with a heat-winning total of 13.75 (out of a possible 20), compared to runner-up James Wood’s 12.40.
An excited Wright said he was pleased to get some waves on his forehand.
“I’m stoked to go left for a change,” said Wright, who has recently moved to Lennox Heads on the New South Wales North Coast.
“We had small right-handers for the opening event of the series, so I’m happy to get some punchy lefts. Hopefully there will be a few barrels for the last two days of competition.”
Wright, who defeated Brazilian Miguel Pupo to win the first stop of the ASP Australasian Pro Junior Series at Burleigh Heads last month, is aiming to get a hold of one of two wildcard positions on offer into the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge.
“It would be sick to qualify for the global challenge,” he said.
“The boys scored sick waves for last year’s event and I remember being pretty jealous. With any luck, two Aussies can make the grade and qualify in front of the international surfers.”
The prestigious tournament is the first of seven Oakley pro junior events organised for Brazil, Europe, Indonesia, Japan, USA and South Africa in ’09. The champion and runner-up from this week’s event will be taken to a secret location to battle it out for more cash and prizes in the Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge.
Wright led an Australian revival with Davey Cathels (North Narrabeen), Shaun Howe (Kalbarri), Dan Pryor (Coolangatta), Ellis Ericson (Byron Bay) and Sam Lendrum (Newcastle) all posting impressive round three wins.
Tahitian powerhouse and no.3 seed Tamaroa McComb (Central Coast) was the day’s biggest casualty, bundled out of competition by Narrabeen ripper Cathels.
Poor wave tactics contributed to McComb’s downfall, finishing in third behind eventual heat winner Cathels and runner-up Joe Sear (Cronulla).
Competition is expected to continue tomorrow with rounds four and five to be completed.
The Oakley Pro Junior is the second stop of the 2009 ASP Australasian Pro Junior Series and offers a five-day surfing window, from Tuesday 3rd February to Saturday 7th February, 2009.
The 2009 Oakley Pro Junior is proudly supported by Stradbroke Island Holidays, Stradbroke Ferries, Redland City Council, Waves Magazine, ASP Australasia and Surfing Queensland.
All event updates can be found on – http://live.coastalwatch.com