Sunshine Coast surfing star Julian Wilson (Coolum) and Gold Coast based Kiwi Airini Mason have won their respective divisions at the $13,000 Billabong Pro Junior Series event in Raglan, New Zealand. The final day was staged in clean 1m waves at Ruapuke Beach break, located 20 minutes south of Raglan.
18-year-old Wilson defeated breakthrough finalist Parish Byrne (Wollongong, NSW) in a one sided affair to secure his first victory of the 2007 circuit. After demolishing Gold Coaster Brendan Leckie in the Semi’s, Wilson was on the front foot early in the 30-minute final, locking in an 8.25 ride after five minutes and sealing the win with a 7.35 late in the exchange.
“I’ve been so hungry for a win this year,” said Wilson. “I’ve had some pretty good results but I haven’t been able to take it that one step further, so it’s good to finally get one. I had a really bad result at my home town event at Coolum and I guess I didn’t really have my form so I needed to get a good result here and I got it, so I’m stoked.”
Not only did Wilson win the event and score a bonus $1000 for taking out the best “Kustomised Maneuver” he also jumped four positions on the crucial ASP Australasian Junior Series ratings to be back in the top five.
Despite fellow Sunshine Coaster Mitchell Coleborn (Maroochydore) extending his ratings lead with a semi final, equal third placed finish, Wilson is now back in the hunt for the overall title, sitting in fourth spot and well within striking distance.
“I guess I have found my form this week, I have been feeling confident and just trying not to think about the ratings too much,” he said. “I need to just keep doing what I have done in this event and there are some big contests coming up. “There is a chance I can get back up there but it’s going to be hard, Mitch is in pretty good form at the moment.”
Making his maiden Pro Junior final today, stocky goofy footer Byrne caused a major upset when he displaced Coleborn from the event in the semi finals but couldn’t link together enough scores to secure an event win. Requiring a solid 8.85 score to deny Wilson of victory, the 19-year-old linked together two mid range waves in the dying stages of the final but fell short of the required target.
Second position in New Zealand has boosted the NSW surfer into eighth spot on the ratings, the first time ever in his junior career he has been situated within the top 10. “Julian got a good lead and I’m obviously annoyed that I didn’t get the win, but second place is a good result, it’s my best result in a junior event,” said Byrne. “I think this has put me in the top ten, so I have to just keep going towards my goal of finishing in the top five at the end of the year.”
“I have been working with a new trainer, keeping really fit and I think it’s starting to pay off. “I’m feeling really confident, I mean, I’ve always known I could get to the final but I’ve never been able to piece it together before.” Final scores has Wilson 15.60 to Byrne 13.25 out of 20.00.
17-year-old Mason blitzed Australian surfer Ashleigh Smith (Cabarita, NSW) in the girls division to claim her second prestigious Pro Junior title for 2007. Defeating pre event ratings leader Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, NSW) in the semi final, the stylish natural footer notched up an 8.00 and an 8.75 ride to win the event, leaving her opponent Smith requiring a combination of scores to steal victory.
The final scores were Mason 16.75 to Smith 12.40 out of a possible 20.00. “I just had so much fun in that final,” said Mason. “I was lucky that those two bomb waves came my way and I’m really happy to win here in New Zealand. It’s so good to get a first place, it is the best place in the world.”
After moving to the Gold Coast two years ago from Gisborne, Mason went on to become the first Kiwi female to win the Australasian Junior Series in 2006 at just 16-years of age. Her home town coup has trumped hot-shot Fitzgibbons for the ratings lead with only four events remaining. She now holds a slim 155-point advantage over her young opponent with Sydney’s Laura Enever in third.
“I’m going to miss two of the next events because I’m staying on here in New Zealand, but hopefully I can get enough ratings points to take out the overall series again,” she said. “This is really going to boost my ratings points so hopefully I can get another win next contest.” The Billabong Pro Junior Series is supported by Coca Cola, Panasonic, UV Triplegard, Clearasil, Von Zipper, Kustom, MTV and Surfing New Zealand.
ASP Australasian Series Junior Boys Ratings (After event 6, Billabong Pro Junior Series Raglan)
9589 Mitchell Coleborn (Maroochydore)
8874 Heath Joske (Nambucca Heads)
8003 Beau Atchison (Copacabana)
7793 Julian Wilson (Coolum)
7768 Brendan Leckie (Palm Beach, QLD)
ASP Australasian Series Junior Girls (After event 6, Billabong Pro Junior Series Raglan)
8380 Airini Mason (Tugun)
8225 Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa)
7330 Laura Enever (North Narrabeen)
6680 Jessie Hickson (Boomerang Beach)
6495 Rebecca Oakley (Sunshine Beach)
Billabong Pro Junior Series History: Developed in the early 1990’s as a platform for young surfers aiming to become professionals, the $75,000 Billabong Pro Junior Series is the country’s longest standing and richest domestic junior surfing circuit.
The five event series, open to aspiring male and female surfers aged 20-years and under, will comprise half of the overall ASP Australasian circuit, which culminates in the crowning of the ASP World Junior Champion at North Narrabeen each year. For the first time in its history, the Billabong Pro Junior Series will this year stop at the new locations of Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast and Coffs Harbour on the NSW Mid North Coast.
The Billabong Pro Junior Series is supported by Coca Cola, Panasonic, UV Triplegard, Clearasil, Von Zipper, Kustom, MTV and Surfing New Zealand.
2007 Billabong Junior Series
$13,000 Billabong Pro Junior Sunshine Coast, February 6 to 11
$13,000 Billabong Pro Junior Coffs Harbour, February 14 to 18
$13,000 Billabong Pro Junior Raglan, March 29 to 31
$13,000 Billabong Pro Junior Wollongong, September 13 to 16
$23,000 Billabong Pro Junior Bells, September 26 to 30