It’s been three years since Pablo Paulino (BRA) has called himself World Junior Champion but at Sydney’s North Narrabeen beach today, the 20-year-old surfer made sure he could again shoulder the honour, winning the 2007 edition of the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships.
Earning his spot into the main event as an ASP International wildcard, the 2004 ASP World Junior Champion blasted through the last of four rounds of competition, to defeat fellow ASP International Wildcard Hawaii’s Tonino Benson; with a 15.00 total heat score (out of a possible 20.00) to Benson’s 9.93.
“It’s a dream come true to win at Narrabeen again,” Paulino said equalling World No. 4 Joel Parkinson’s two ASP World Junior Title record. “It was my dream to win it twice and this year was my last shot. I am so happy.”
A standout from start to finish, Paulino revealed all the fire and flair of a Brazilian sportsman, putting on show-stopping performances right from the very first round.
“The new school style of surfing is where I feel most comfortable,” Paulino explained. “I was doing aerial manoeuvres early in the event but I started to feel the pressure in the Final. I knew I would need the scores against Tonino, so I focussed on power carves instead and it was enough to see me through.”
Paulino’s achievement not only earned him US$6500 but also a top seed placement into every ASP World Qualifying Series event in 2008, where he hopes to qualify for the elite ASP Men’s World Tour.
Runner-up Tonino Benson earned US$3400 and will join Paulino in the Round of 96 on the WQS this year.
Arguably the day’s top performer, Benson posted the only perfect 10.00 point ride of the event, tucking into a deep barrel against Australian wildcard Owen Wright in the Quarterfinals. Unfortunately, the young Hawaii could not repeat this performance in the Final.
“I’m happy for Pablo, he’s my friend and he deserved the win,” Benson said. “I got out of rhythm in the Final and everything seemed to be going his way. I am happy to reach the Finals and just grateful to compete in these amazing waves.”
The ocean certainly delivered for the final day of the Boys competition, serving up flawless 1.5- 2-meter waves at North Narrabeen beach today.
Finishing equal third and earning US$ 2,850 were Tanner Gudauskas (USA) and Chris Martin (GLP), both surfers unanimous standouts throughout the event but unlucky not to put it together in the Semifinals.
Semifinal Heat 1 saw a ‘see-saw’ battle between Benson and 19-year-old Gudauskas (USA), the two surfers raising the stakes on each exchanging ride. Benson ultimately earning him golden ticket into the Final.
“It’s a bittersweet feeling,” Gudauskas lamented. “You’re super bummed that you lost on the one hand and on the other, you’re stoked to make the Semi’s. It’s a good result for me, I learnt so much in every heat and I’ll be back for a spot in the Final next year, for sure.”
Semifinal Heat 2 just didn’t go Chris Martins way. While Paulino pounced on each wave like a brazen predator would its prey, the Caribbean surfer couldn’t seem to keep his feet on his board.
“It was a hard heat, I didn’t choose the good ones, I lost my priority on bad waves and I kept falling,’ Martin said, “but I’m pretty proud to represent my country and place high in this contest.”
The Australian surfers suffered a disappointing finish, toppling at the hands of their international rivals with five equal fifth place finishes. Their consistency was however rewarded, the team emerging as the overall ratings leaders, ahead of Europe who finished in second and South America who took third on the point standings.
South African surfer Klee Strachan won the Panasonic Expression Session.