Laurie Towner surfing to victory
With only two events remaining on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Australasian Junior series, the country’s best 20 underaged surfers are gearing up for a final fight at Bells Beach, Torquay.
The Billabong Pro-Teen Series Final, beginning September 27th, will decide the 2006 junior men’s and women’s titles following nine events encompassing over 250 of the country’s best surfers.
The ultimate event will determine the top five junior men and top two junior women to contest the 2006 ASP Billabong World Junior Championships at North Narrabeen in January, regarded as the premier junior event on the surfing calendar.
As it stands, the 7-star rated Billabong Pro-Teen Final is the paramount competition for 2006, the extra points on offer making it viable for surfers ranked outside the top five to qualify for the professional world junior titles.
The winner of the junior men’s Bells Beach final will also be awarded a highly coveted direct wildcard into the world junior championships regardless of their ASP Australasian ranking.
Currently in the box seat for the junior men’s title is northern rivers teenager Laurie Towner (Angourie). Strong wins in Victoria and New Zealand see the natural footer 218 points clear of dangerous South Coast rookie Owen Wright (Culburra).
“I want to make at least the quarter, semi’s or final in the next two events and hopefully win the series,” said Towner. “If Manly is small and hard to surf, and I don’t perform too well, I’m glad the final contest is at Bells. Having already won an event there at the start of this year I am feeling pretty confident, especially if Bells is good.”
The 19-year-old qualified for the world junior titles via the trials in 2005, something he will avoid this year should he perform well in the upcoming events. The title win would top an unbelievable year for the natural footer, one which saw him nominated for a Global Big Wave Award, ride the wave of the season in Hawaii and surf monster waves in Tahiti alongside the worlds best tow surfers.
“The top five are all surfing really well and it’s going to be hard to beat them,” said Towner. “We are all really close on points and anyone can win it.”
Nicola Atherton in action
When competition resumes for the girls at the Billabong Pro-Teen Final, Sydney surfer Nicola Atherton (Bronte) will be looking to defend her currently held second position and secure a world junior championships berth.
Boomerang Beach surfer Jessie Hickson and Kiwi Mischa Davis (Oratia) are the only surfers capable of toppling Atherton, something the talented 20-year-old is looking to prevent.
“This year I’ve placed a little too much importance on winning the juniors,” said Atherton. “I’ve shifted my focus to the World Qualifying Series because where I really want to head is the WCT (World Championship Tour). The juniors are a fantastic step towards that goal.”
Despite finishing runner up to World Tour Surfer Jessi Miley-Dyer (Coogee) at the 2005 junior championships, Atherton has failed to win an Australasian junior series event in 2006. The Bells final will be her last ever crack at the 20 and under level before graduating to a full time WQS campaigner.
“I haven’t done as well as I wanted on the juniors this year and as a result it has messed with my confidence and upset me a bit,” said Atherton. “I’m going into this event to have a little more fun with it. I go into every event wanting to win so hopefully I can come away with my first junior win of the year.”
The Billabong Pro-Teen Final will be held at Bells Beach Torquay from September 27th – October 1st.
The Billabong Pro-Teen Series for 2006 is supported by Panasonic, Vodafone, Coca-Cola, UV Triplegard, Clearasil, Kustom, Von Zipper, Tracks and Palmers Surf.
ASP Australasian Boy’s Ratings Top 10
- Laurie Towner NSW-Angourie (9556)
- Owen Wright NSW- Culburra (9338)
- Dion Atkinson SA-Seaford (9326)
- Mitchell Coleborn QLD- Maroochydore (9239)
- Julian Wilson QLD-Coolum (8776)
- Nick Riley NSW- Fairlight (7913)
- Wade Goodall QLD-Moffat Beach (7884)
- Luke Cheadle NSW-Culburra (7573)
- Matt Wilkinson NSW- Copacabana (7494)
- James Wood NSW- Lennox Head (7225)
ASP Australasian Girls Ratings Top 5
- Airini Mason QLD-Tugun (9770)
- Nicola Atherton NSW-Bronte (8070)
- Jessie Hickson NSW-Boomerang Beach (7840)
- Mischa Davis NZ-Oratia (6845)
- Jaimee Wheatley WA-Geraldton (6575)