South East Queensland’s dream run of swell continued on the Sunshine Coast for the final of the Billabong Pro Junior Series this weekend. Pt Cartwright turned it on for the countries best juniors, churning out ideal 1.5-2m barreling right-handers. It was the best surf seen in a pro junior event for over a year and the first time an event had been held at the fickle break in over a decade.
Maroochydore surfer Mitch Coleborn used local knowledge to full effect, defeating Angourie’s Laurie Towner in a decidedly one sided affair to secure his second ever Pro Junior Series victory. The stocky goofy footer led from word go, an 8.00 and a 7.33 setting up a commanding lead for an emphatic win. Coleborn, 19, was simply untouchable on the final day, posting the highest wave and heat score of the event in his semi final, a 9.70 setting up a two-wave total of 17.53 out of 20.00.
“I use to surf Cartwright a bit when I was a grommet,” said Coleborn. “I haven’t surfed here a lot lately but it was insane to see it turn on for the final day. I was definitely looking for a strong result here after my last bow out down at Burleigh. I’m just stoked to get a win, the points are very valuable to me. All my mates are down here and they are stoked so it amazing to win in front of a local crew.”
The final scores from the final had Coleborn taking the win with 15.33 to Towner’s 6.67. The hometown win has boosted the 20-year-old into fourth position on the ASP Australasian Junior Rankings. Towner had the proverbial shocker, breaking two surfboards in the 25-minute final and leaving his opponent in the line-up unchallenged for much of the encounter.
“It sucks to win like that, it would have been great to have a nice close final for all the spectators because I know how good Laurie surfs,” said Coleborn. “It was a bit unlucky for him in the final but I’ll take the win.” Fighting back from injury, Towner’s second place finish at the Billabong Pro Junior signified his return to the top level of competition for his age group.
“That was probably the worst heat I have ever had,” said Towner. “I got really unlucky and broke a couple of boards but even so, Mitch got a couple of really good scores so it would have been tough for me to come back. I’m stoked to get to the final, I would have loved to have done a little bet better but sometimes it just goes that way,” said Towner. “Well done to Mitch, he surfed really good.It’s definitely a good confidence booster, I’ve just come out of a shoulder injury and have been struggling to find some form so to come this contest and get some good waves and get a strong result is awesome.”
Securing his best result in an Australasian Junior Series event today was Lennox Head hotshot Stuart Kennedy. Kennedy, 17, was a standout performer across the six-day event, defeating ratings leader Jayke Sharp and local star Blake Wilson (Alexandra Headland) on his way through to the semis.
Facing Towner in the penultimate final, Kennedy started strongly with a 7.50 before being forced to play catch up after Towner notched up a 9.23 ride. The smooth surfing natural footer fought valiantly to post a 7.00 followed by an 8.17 but it wasn’t enough to reel in his breakaway opponent, still left needing an 8.40.
“I’m really happy with that result, I would have loved to be in the final but well done to Laurie,” said Kennedy. “I just kept calm through the whole event, just concentrated on getting my scores in every heat and it worked out for me. We don’t really get to surf many point breaks throughout the year so it was good to get Pt Cartwright firing today.”
Gold Coast natural footer Brendan Leckie rocketed into the top ten on the ratings with an equal third placed finish. Leckie accounted for an inform Lincoln Taylor (Pt Lookout) in the Quarters before going down to a rampaging Coleborn in the Semi Final. The powerful backhand of Coleborn blasted Leckie out of contention within the heats opening minutes, locking in a near perfect 9.70 to take the lead. Leckie was never in the hunt, requiring a combination of 17.54 at the death to progress.
“Mitch nailed it on his first wave in the first few seconds and then he had me from there,” said Leckie. “I tried to come back but couldn’t find any good ones. I’m definitely stoked to be in the top ten again, my goal is to stay there all year and then be in with a chance of making the top five at the end of the year.”
Despite bowing out in the Quarter Finals to Towner, Coffs Harbour surfer Jayke Sharpe claimed the ASP Australasian Series lead, knocking Coolum’s Julian Wilson off top spot. After breaking through for a maiden victory at the second event of the year at Burleigh Heads, Sharpe is in an ideal position to cement his lead leading into the Billabong Pro Junior Series at his home break next week.
“Laurie is definitely surfing well, he hasn’t had too good a start to the year but he had all the good ones in that heat,” said Sharpe. “There are good waves out there, perfect for the contest so whoever gets the best waves is going to get through, which I didn’t. I’m definitely stoked on leading the series, it’s something I never thought I would be able to do or ever thought would happen,” he said. “I’m looking forward to next week, they are the waves I’ve surfed my whole life so a good result there to set up the rest of the year would be perfect.”
Meanwhile, in the Womens ASP Grade 1 Pro Junior, the first cyclone swell of the season arrived right on queue for the countries best surfers on the Sunshine Coast, with solid 2m swells thumping into Coolum Beach. Sydney gidget Laura Enever (Narrabeen), 15, announced her arrival to the world of professional junior surfing with a maiden victory in the prestigious event.
The lightweight natural footer trumped event top seed and sure priced favourite Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa) in the final, fighting back to grab victory in the last five minutes. “I’m so stoked, I knew Sally would be so hard to beat, she has won two of these events before,” said Enever. “It was the first time I have ever been in a final so I just couldn’t believe that I made it, to win was such a bonus.”
Enever struggled to find a score in the shifting line-up of Coolum until the halfway mark of the final, firing back into contention with a 6.50 ride. Fitzgibbons, 16, remained in control with two scoring rides of a 5.83 and a 4.17 before her less experienced opponent grabbed the lead with a 5.50 in the last few minutes.
“I thought she was smashing me but I got a good one and it ended up being really close,” said Enever. The current ASP Australasian Ratings leader only needed a 6.18 to snatch the lead back but was caught inside by a large set wave at the dying stage and was unable to find the required score.
It was a huge moment for the young Sydney dynamo, realising her dream as a pro junior event winner despite still being able to compete in the 16/U grommet events around the country. Her win has lifted her to fifth position on the junior rankings. “I’ve had two ninths already this year and to get a win is just so sick.I was just hoping to do a few of the series comps,” said Enever. “I can still go in the grommet comps and I was just doing these for experience. Hopefully I can make the top ten at the end of the year or even the top five. To finish in the top two and make the world juniors which are at my home break would be amazing but whatever I finish this year I’ll be happy with.”
Despite the loss, Fitzgibbons retained the number spot on the series ratings. “Laura went really well and it was an exiting final,” said Fitzgibbons. “I was unlucky not to get it and I just couldn’t find the waves at the end. We just went out there to have a bit of fun and she got the better of me this time so congratulations to her, it was really well done. There will be plenty more finals to come I guess, she will be around for a while in this division and so will I, so it should be great fun.”
A major upset in the junior boy’s division saw World Tour Competitor Jeremy Flores (France) unceremoniously disposed from the event by an inform Laurie Towner. 19-year-old Towner signified his return from a devastating shoulder injury that occurred during the wipe-out of the season last November in Hawaii. The lanky natural footer from the Northern NSW town of Angourie blasted into the lead early in the heat with an 8.00 before slamming the door shut with a 6.60.
“There was good little waves out there, good to see some swell after the last few contests,” said Towner. “I was lucky enough to get a few rights and it was good to take out someone like that. “He was probably one of the top seeds in this event so to beat him in that heat then was good. He was surfing good but just didn’t seem to get any waves and I hear he hasn’t surfed an event in a while which is probably why he was competing here.”
Manly’s Alex Chacon finished second in the round four heat, with Caleb Reid (Bronte) in third. Flores couldn’t buy a wave in the heat, finishing in fourth position and ousted from the event. The 2007 world tour rookie was using the junior event as a warm up for the opening WCT event on the Gold Coast this March.