Next Generation of Surfing Stars Crowned at Quiksilver Australian Grommet Titles
Australia's surfing future looks assured with talented trio Teale Vanner (Kangaroo Island, SA), teen star Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, NSW) and Todd Rosewall (Jan Juc, Victoria) all securing berths into the 2007 Quiksilver ISA World Junior Championships by winning national surfing titles at Sharpes Beach near Ballina, Northern New South Wales this weekend.
Vanner will be Australia's top seeded surfer in the world championships scheduled for Portugal next May after breaking through for his first major victory in the blue ribbon U/18 Boys division which was completed in peaky 1-1.5 metre waves.
The natural footer carried his week-long stand-out form into the final to defeat the nation's best junior surfers from all six states and make history by becoming the first South Australian to climb the winner's podium in the division.
Always regarded as one of the best free surfers at his home breaks in South Australia, Vanner had yet to carry that winning form into the competitive arena, but with newly found confidence he added his name to a list of past champions that reads like the who's who of Australian surfing.
"Coming into the comp I was a bit of an underdog, no one really knew of any surfers from South Australia. To win it is just phenomenal for me," said Vanner.
"I put in a full week with Sasha Stocker the head coach from Surfing Australia before I came here. He was telling me all this stuff I needed to do and I put it all into practise. At home we've got big powerful waves so I've been trying to surf this kind of mush a lot .... I was talking to myself in the final, paddling back out going, 'Come on, you can do it.' I'm ecstatic ... Portugal's the next goal for me now."
Vanner finished on 14.10 points out of a possible 20 to defeat runner-up Josh Johnson-Baxter (Ocean Grove, Vic) on 12.16, Jackson Collins (Phillip Island, Vic) in third with 11.27 and Chris Salisbury (Newport Beach, NSW) fourth on 9.10.
There were no surprises with Sally Fitzgibbons living up to all expectations in the U/18 girls Quiksilver Australian Grommet Titles, she was the only surfer to win back-to-back individual Australian junior surfing titles this year.
The 2005 U/16's national champion was never in doubt, blasting out of the blocks with two high-scoring rides which would ultimately prove enough to hold off a late charge from Ashleigh Smith (Cabarita, NSW). The 15 year-old finished with a heat score of 13.83 to defeat Smith on 12.10, Amy Hart (Currumbin, Qld) finished third with 10.54 and Tiana McNeven (Tugun, Qld) fourth on 6.00 points.
"I was happy to get those two quick waves under my belt and then use my time to sit on the other girls and make sure they didn't get ahead of me," said Fitzgibbons, whose dizzying resume has her clearly marked as a future world beater.
"It definitely wasn't easy, I was a little bit nervous, I go into every competition like it's my first. Going to Portugal will be awesome, hopefully Team Australia will do us proud. I'm sure we'll have a really good time over there!"
Victorian Todd Rosewall (Jan Juc) virtually had the U/16 Boys title in his grasp from his opening ride, when the Jan Juc natural footer picked off a wedging right hander in the first two minutes of the decider and pulled off three critical forehand turns to be awarded an excellent 8.83 out of a possible 10.
On the back foot, Queensland brothers James and Thomas Woods (Coolangatta), and local hope Garrett Parkes (Byron Bay) were forced to play catch-up for the entire final, but couldn't find the waves when they needed them most.
Rosewall's second average score of 5.07 booked his berth to the World Junior Championships, sealing the win to defeat James Woods on 11.84, Thomas Woods third on 11.77 and Parkes fourth on 7.77 points.
As an added bonus Rosewall also receives airfares and accommodation to France courtesy of Quiksilver where he will fly the flag for the green 'n gold in Quiksilver's international U/16 "King of the Groms" grand final, making today a momentous one for the 15 year-old.
Laura Enever (Narrabeen, NSW) showed why she is touted as one of the country's brightest prospects, nearly doubling the score of her closest rival, Dimity Stoyle (Maroochydore) to completely run away with the U/16 Girls title.
Enever appeared to be on every decent wave in the final, wrapping up the 20 minute heat in style, with 15.06 points to Stoyle in second on 8.66, with Tyler Wright (Culburra, NSW) third on 7.00 points and Darci Egan (Jan Juc, Victoria) fourth on 6.07.
NSW's Jesse Adam (Merewether) and Stuart Kennedy (Lennox Head) claimed a convincing national title victory over Victoria's Jackson Collins (Phillip Island) and Josh Johnson-Baxter (Ocean Grove) in the U/19 All-Stars division.
NSW's Fitzgibbons and Enever completely dominated Queensland's Dimity Stoyle (Maroochydore) and Naomi Stevic (Sunrise Beach) to win the U/19 Girls All-Stars.
Queensland brothers Thomas and James Woods won the U/16 All-stars National title defeating Victoria's Rosewall (Jan Juc) and Mitchell Baker (Phillip Island, Vic) 24.24 to 21.77.
The only surfer to post a perfect 10 point ride in the week long tournament, Fitzgibbons was honoured with the prestigious Ma Bendall/Isabell Letham Award. Fitzgibbons' stunning campaign also included her three national titles.
Vanner was presented with the prestigious Duke Kahanamoku Award. Both surfers showed exceptional sportsmanship and potential as two of the sport's future stars. Vanner also received a bonus prize courtesy of presenting sponsor Samsung, for the Wave of the Day, a newly released Samsung K5 MP3 player.
Official Results - Quiksilver Australian Grommet Titles presented by Samsung
- 1st - Teale Vanner (Kangaroo Island, SA)
- 2nd - Josh Johnson-Baxter (Ocean Grove, Vic)
- 3rd - Jackson Collins (Phillip Island, Vic)
- 4th - Chris Salisbury (Newport Beach, NSW)
- 1st - Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa, NSW)
- 2nd - Ashleigh Smith (Cabarita, NSW)
- 3rd - Amy Hart (Currumbin, Qld)
- 4th - Tiana McNeven (Tugun, Qld)
- 1st - Todd Rosewall (Jan Juc, Victoria)
- 2nd - James Woods (Coolangatta, Qld)
- 3rd - Thomas Woods (Coolangatta, Qld)
- 4th - Garrett Parkes (Byron Bay, NSW)
- 1st - Laura Enever (Narrabeen, NSW)
- 2nd - Dimity Stoyle (Maroochydore, Qld)
- 3rd - Tyler Wright (Culburra, NSW)
- 4th - Darci Egan (Jan Juc, Victoria)
State All-Stars Teams
- U/19 Boys Final: NSW (Stuart Kennedy, Jesse Adam) d Victoria (Jackson Collins, Josh Johnson-Baxter)
- U/19 Girls Final: NSW (Laura Enever, Sally Fitzgibbons) d QLD (Dimity Stoyle, Naomi Stevic)
- U/16 Boys Final: QLD (James Woods, Thomas Woods) d Victoria (Todd Rosewall, Mitchell Baker)
Mark Richards Shield Schools Titles
- U/19 Boys Final: Qld Palm Beach Currumbin High (Blake Ainsworth, Kane Powell) d Newhaven College (Jackson Collins, Mitchell Baker)
- U/19 Girls Final: W.A. St. Marks College (Jaala Baldock, Felicity Palmateer) d Vic Newhaven College (Melissa Burt, Nina Van Dijk)
- U/16 Boys Final: W.A. Margaret River Senior High (Matt Baldock, Jethro Hedstrom) d Vic Geelong College (Todd Rosewall, Elliot Mann)