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PERFORMANCE LEVELS RAISED AT BILLABONG WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS

News provided by ASP World Tour on 4 January 2006

Grey sky and some patchy rain squalls were in no way going to dampen the atmosphere at Narrabeen Beach, Sydney, Australia today as the competitors in the Billabong World Junior Championships raised the performance bar for junior surfing.

Throughout the day there were some incredibly tight and exciting matchups with numerous surfers executing manoeuvres that could rattle the bones of those surfing in either of the elite ASP world tours.

None were more on fire than Beau Walker (AUS) who caused a huge upset when he defeated his teammate and Australasia’s number one seed Ben Dunn 16.83 out of 20 to 11.30 in round two heat three.

Walker adopted perfect tactics to defeat Dunn who has been labelled by many as being the ultimate competition machine. Walker opened up early with a very strong ride and managed to put himself in the perfect position to take the heat as Dunn opted to be patient and as result was dragged by the current out of the way of the best waves.

Walker, after the heat was more relieved than anything to take the win and was rapt that his tactics paid off.

“I’ve been dreading this heat and when the event was called off yesterday it just dragged my anxiousness out a bit more,” he said. “And now to come through with the win is great. I had to get off to quick start out there against Dunn because he is such a great surfer. I wanted to apply the pressure straight up.

“I take my hat off to Ben,” Walker continued. “He can get a 10 at anytime in a heat so the last three minutes of that heat when I was sitting out there I was really nervous. I went out there with the attitude that I had nothing to lose so I have to keep that all the way through.”

He also was pleased that a lay day was called yesterday as interestingly he’d damaged his favourite board. Yesterday he literally glued it back together.

“I’ve been riding some great boards,” said Walker. “I managed to crease one on the first day and on the day off yesterday I had the glue out fixing it. I was just stoked to have it under my feet again. It went so good out there today.”

In the opening heat of the day, TJ Barron indicated he was eager to take another world title trophy back to his Hawaiian homeland and follow in the steps of his good friend and three time Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champion Andy Irons who won this event back in 1998.

Barron locked in the highest heat total of the day when he defeated Jean Sebastien Esteinne (FRA) 17.50 to 6.33 and grabbed the attention of the judges and the crowd when he managed to tuck into one of the only tuberides of the day.

“Yeah it was fun out there,” said Barron. “The waves were fun and it went my way and I just had a great time. I managed to get a barrel out there. I was thinking of hitting the lip and then I just squeaked under it and got a cover-up. I’m glad to be in round three. I’ve travelled a long way so it’s great to get through.”

In what was one of the most courageous efforts seen in a surfing event Dion Agius grabbed a last minute win against his rival, Tahitian Taumata Puhetini. Surfing with a broken bone in his foot Agius literally pulled the cast off his leg inorder to surf in the event – and the aerial manoeuvre he landed to win would have placed enormous stress on the injury.

“My ankle is a bit sore at the moment, said Agius. “I’ve been popping pain killers all week so I can compete. It’s supposed to be in a cast for bit longer but I obviously can’t surf with it on so I took it off. I then cut my toe and woke up yesterday with the worst cold ever so it’s like someone has it in for me at the moment… That last wave though… well it made up for it.”

The huge aerial had the crowd on its feet and Agius at that point had literally given up hope of getting the 6.11 score he needed to win.

“Winning that heat was one of the heaviest things that’s ever happened to me,” Agius said. “I caught that wave in the last few seconds just to come back in to the beach and I was so angry I was just going to go home but all the guys on the beach were cheering me on to ‘punt’ [do a big aerial] and then on the inside I started to freak out. I hit it and as I was landing my felt like it was going to slip off but I just made it.”

New Zealand surfer Bobby Hansen was another to excel as he rights himself after three years of being plagued by injury. Having two shoulder reconstructions and last year smashing his knee it’s the first time he’s been in a position to attack competition with confidence.

“It’ll be my first year that I’ve been able to have full on go at it for about three years,” said Hansen. “I’ve had reconstructions on both my shoulders and then last year I ripped apart my knee. I’m confident though that this year I can do a good job and hopefully I won’t have to have a knee reconstruction also.”

In his heat with Hideyoshi Tanaka (JAP) he was lucky to grab some solid waves as the rip kept dragging them out to sea. He accredited his win to having a bit more time to prepare by competing in the trials.

“I think in the heat I was pretty lucky,” Hansen said. “We were both lost at sea out there and I luckily managed to get a few good ones. I think with having to surf the trials we had a bit more time to warm up so maybe that’s why the trialists are doing well today. It was really tough out there. There are some good ones but they’re just hard to find. You have to keep your body and mind strong to take on conditions like this out there. You don’t come over here to lose.”

In the girls Nicola Atherton (AUS) caused an upset when she defeated one of the top favourites in Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in the quarter finals. She now moves ahead into the semi finals and is hoping that she and her good mate Jessi Miley-Dyer will both make it through for a local girl final.

“Stephanie is definitely one of the event favourites and it feels fantastic to come away with a win,” said Atherton. “The conditions are tricky but I was happy with the call to run it today because I’ve had so much practice in waves like these. I was happy with my strategy and if conditions stay similar to this I’ll stick with it. It would be a dream come true to have an all Sydney girl final.”

As we go to press some excellent scores were notched up by Frenchmen Romain Lauhle in heat 14 and in heat 15 Joan Duru (FRA) had to be carried up the beach due to an incurred injury with the heat win going to Japanese competitor Yujiro Tsuji.

Tsuji, despite being given an open door when Duru had to pull back from catching waves, still pushed the limits and was another standout of the day.

Organisers will be back at 7am tomorrow morning to assess conditions. They are hoping to restart the event at 7.30am. The forecast looks promising with the swell expecting to build slightly overnight.

Results:

Heat 1:
TJ Barron (HAW) 17.50 def Jean Sebastien Esteinne (6.33)
Heat 2:
Sterling Spencer ((USA) 12.43 def Blake Thornton (AUS) 12.00
Heat 3:
Beau Walker (AUS) 16.83 def Ben Dunn (AUS) 11.30
Heat 4:
Bobby Hansen 11.17 (NZL) def Hideyoshi Tanaka (JAP) 6.33
Heat 5:
Hermes Tomas (BRA) 13.67 def Masato Nakano (JAP) 12.90
Heat 6:
Keegan Nel (ZAF) 11.10 def Giancarlo Zampieri (BRA) 10.67
Heat 7:
Brandon Jackson (ZAF) 15.34 def Brandon Roberts (ZAF) 9.17
Heat 8:
Dion Agius (AUS) 11.83 def Taumata Puhetini (PYF) 10.94
Heat 9:
Brian Toth (PRI) 14.20 def Wade Goodall (AUS) 11.50
Heat 10:
Leandro Bastos (BRA) def Gonzalo Zubizaretta (ESP 10.57
Heat 11:
Rhys Bombacci (AUS) 17.33 def Josh Redman (ZAF) 7.76
Heat 12:
Damien Fahrenfort (11.67) def Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 10.80
Heat 13:
Mitch Coleborn (AUS) 9.83 def Eric Geiselman (USA) 5.06
Heat 14:
Romain Lauhle (FRA) 16.83 def Hidetoshi Kirizume (JAP 9.43
Heat 15:
Yujiro Tsuji (JAP) 16.50 def Joan Duru (FRA) 16.33
Heat 16:
Granger Larsen (HAW) 13.34 def Tatsuya Fukugawa (JAP) 9.50

Girls Quarter-final results:

Heat 1:
Nikita Robb (ZAF) 15.50 def Carissa Moore 9.27 (HAW)
Heat 2:
Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS) 14.66 def Pauline Ado (FRA) 5.90
Heat 3:
Nicola Atherton (AUS) 11.66 def Steph Gilmore (AUS) 9.34
Heat 4:
Mizuki Hagiwara (JAP) 6.57 def Diana Cristina (BRA) 5.06



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