Billabong Pro Junior – Sunshine Coasters Crumble At Coolum

With Maroochydore failing to fire on day two of the Billabong Pro Junior Series on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, round two of the event has been run at Coolum Beach. Sunshine Coast surfers struggled on the second day of competition with all three remaining round two contenders bowing out in the junior men’s. Jason Blissett (Maroochydore), Sam Rhodes (Coolum) and Harrison Roach (Sunshine Beach) all failed to progress through to round three.

Despite the crumbling results in the equally crumbling 1m conditions at Coolum, local surfers are still well placed in the junior men’s with 11 surfers through to round three from seeding positions and heat wins on Tuesday. When the third round resumes, top seeded guns Julian Wilson (Coolum), Mitch Coleborn (Maroochydore) and Blake Wilson (Alexandra Headlands) will lead the way for the locals.

The unlucky run of results for Sunshine Coasters continued throughout the afternoon with Dimity Stoyle (Buderim), Kelly Winter (Noosa) and Temma Lee (Maroochydore) eliminated in round one of the junior girls division. The pair went head to head in their opening heat and were subsequently outclassed by a strong performance from NSW surfer Stephanie Sallis and Francisca Santos of France.

South Coast NSW young gun Sam Wrench (Ulladulla) powered through his opening heat of competition in the junior men’s second round. Wrench, 16, amassed the third highest scoring total of the event courtesy of an 8.33 and a 7.33. Smart surfing tactics saw the talented natural footer break away from his fellow competitors early in the 20-minute-exchange, opting to surf a different break to the right of the contest area.

The gamble paid dividends, rewarding Wrench with a solid first score and setting up an early lead over Steve Ahrens (Curl Curl), James Healy (Aireys Inlet) and Harrison Roach (Sunrise Beach). “I got lucky at the start, I spotted a little bank over there and thought I would have a go,” said Wrench. “I planned to go down there and catch a couple of quick scores and it worked perfectly.”

“The waves are small and it’s a bit of a grovel but to get some scores does wonders for the confidence especially heading into the third round,” said Wrench. “I haven’t had a good result this year so I’m hoping this is it.” Wrench will now meet the NSW trio of Madison Williams (Coffs Harbour) Ellis Ericson (Byron Bay) and David Vlug (Narrabeen) in the third round.

Tweed Coast surfer Brent Savage, 16, (Casuarina) followed Wrench’s lead in the very next heat, surfing the same bank to post an impressive win over Vlug and Cahill Bell-Warren (Bells Beach). The lanky natural footer employed smooth surfing in the tricky conditions to lock in a 5.33 and a back up score of 5.10 to secure the win.

“I looked at that bank to the right and saw a couple of good ones lining up,” said Savage. “I went out there and got a good one right off the bat. “I’m hoping to finish in the top 50 on the overall junior series this year. “So far I haven’t had the best start but it’s all about improving on my results from here on in.”

Savage will need to continue his good form in round three where he faces local Sunshine Coast surfer Blake Wilson (Alexandra Headland), Tim Taplin (East Lynne) and Steve Ahrens (Curl Curl). “The level of surfing here is just so much higher than the grommet events I have been doing for the past few years,” said Savage. “You just really have to work on your scores and make sure they are in that excellent range every heat.”

While most of his friends are freezing through the English winter, 17-year-old Brit Jayce Robinson was enjoying a well fought out second round heat win at the Billabong Pro Junior Series in bath like 24 degree water temperature. Robinson is one of 13 international surfers still in contention for the $2800 winners prize purse and used smart surfing tactics to progress through to the top seeded third round in front of fellow international Rudy Palmboom (South Africa).

Despite a nervous start the St Ives resident stayed busy in the shifting Coolum line-up, riding 11 waves to post two top scoring waves of a 5.33 and a 6.73. Palmboom snuck into second on 10.66 while Aussie duo David Delroy-Carr (Cottesloe,WA) and Hugo Prasser (Pt Lookout) were eliminated from the event.

“I thought I was in for a shocker at the start when my foot slipped off on my first wave,” said Robinson. “I managed to find a few longer lefts and get some good whacks in and lock in some scores later in the heat. Last year I did all the junior series here in Australia but didn’t do too well, the standard is just so much higher out here,” said Robinson. “It’s the reason I come, because when I get home my standard has been lifted a lot.”

“The warm water just makes you feel so relaxed,” said Robinson. “Back at home at the moment we are wearing 5/4mm wetsuits and paddling around like the Michelin Man.” Also keeping his good run going was French WCT surfer Jeremy Flores who flew through to round three with the highest single wave score of the event, a 9.50. Flores looks on track to rattle the top seeds when round three resumes.


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