AUSTRALIAN surfing ace Owen Wright (Lennox Head, NSW) will get a crack at the world’s premier pro junior specialty event after taking out the ASP grade 5 Oakley Pro Junior in tricky 3-4ft beach break waves on North Stradbroke Island today.
Wright, 19, made certain he qualified for the prestigious Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge, recording a two-wave combined total of 17.75 (out of a possible 20) to outgun Brazilian Jadson Andre in a see-sawing, man-on-man final at Main Beach, Point Lookout.
An excited Wright said he was stoked to gain selection.
“I’ve seen the footage of last year’s challenge and it looked unreal,” said Wright, who netted $7000 and 3000 rating points for his win.
“It’s really sunk in that I’m going. That event is where it’s at. I just dug deep and did it.”
Wright, who won the opening event of the 2009 ASP Australasian Pro Junior Series at Burleigh Heads last month, pulled out some big moves across the final day of competition, disposing of Coolangatta’s Jack Freestone in the quarters, Ulladulla’s Sam Wrench in the semis before dispatching of Andre in the decider.
“The win means a lot to me,” he said.
“I’ve got two wins under my belt now, so I can just relax into the next few events and just nail it.”
The lanky goofy foot rose to the challenge set by Andre, coming from behind to steal victory with a near perfect 9.5 in the final 10-minutes of the highly-anticipated clash.
Despite a last minute wave challenge by Andre, Wright held on for a narrow victory.
Final scores: Wright 17.75 def Andre 17.20
Wright said he was pleased to snare victory after a nervous start to the event.
“I was really nervous heading into this event,” he said.
“I think it showed with my opening heats as I didn’t have any big scores. After getting through to the quarters I thought I could win still. I just put my head down and really focused on qualifying.”
Main Beach yet again provided the ideal forum for the final day of competition, with the punchy left hand peaks offering the perfect background for finalists to flex their competition repertoires.
Jadson, who finished runner-up at the world juniors at Narrabeen in Sydney in early January, fell short in his quest for a win on Australian soil.
But it wasn’t all bad news for the Brazilian powerhouse having qualifying behind eventual winner Wright into the Oakley Global Challenge.
Finishing equal third today were the Australian duo of Sam Wrench (Ulludulla) and Davey Cathels (Narrabeen).
Cathel’s semi-final finish today represents his highest placed finish at an ASP Australasian rated event and he’ll be looking to feed off this result when action continues at the next chapter of the series at Coffs Harbour next week.
In semi final one, Wright yet again ended Wrench’s dream of a maiden Pro Junior win, netting a semi-winning total of 15.65 to book a spot in the final.
It was Wright who beat Wrench in the semis of the opening stop of the ASP Australasian Pro Junior Series last month, before going on to take the win.
Semi final two was a low-scoring affair, with Andre coming from behind to send Cathels packing from the prestigious tournament.
Finishing equal fifth today were Jack Freestone (Coolangatta), Dan Pryor (Tugun), Sam Lendrum and Miguel Pupo (Brazil). All four surfers collecting $1300 and 1830 rating points.
Final: Owen Wright (17.75) def Jadson Andre (17.20)
Semi 1: Owen Wright (15.65) def Sam Wrench (14.75)
Semi 2: Jadson Andre (12.60) def Davey Cathels (10.25
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.