While the Australian leg of the World Qualifying Series (WQS) continues this week in Margaret River, over 100 of the regions best junior surfers will be traveling to Raglan, New Zealand to contest the Billabong Pro Junior Series from 29 March - 1 April, 2007.
Event six of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Australasian Junior Series, the 5 star rated Billabong Pro Junior offers $13,000 in prize money and is open to aspiring male and female surfers aged 20-years and under. The five event, $75,000 Billabong Pro Junior Series comprises half of the overall ASP Australasian circuit, which culminates in the crowning of the ASP World Junior Champion at North Narrabeen each year.
Following an equal third placed finish at the last Junior series event in Newcastle, current ASP ratings leader Mitchell Coleborn (Maroochydore) is confident the long left hand point break of Manu Bay Raglan will present an opportunity to widen the gap between ratings challengers.
“I locked in another pretty solid result at Newcastle so I’ve got four keepers in my tally now and I’m feeling confident going to Raglan," said Coleborn. “Heath (Joske) is coming second at the moment so he is definitely a threat but there are always guys like Julian Wilson and Owen Wright who can just do anything."
Coleborn will be re-united with his favourite surfboard this week after it surfaced at the Cash Converters at Palm Beach on the Gold Coast. The 20-year-olds car and surfboards were stolen from Duranbah one day before the Billabong Pro Junior series at Coffs Harbour in February.
“The Palmy Cash Converters pulled through with the goods, I couldn’t believe it," said Coleborn. “I’ll clean it up and take it over there for sure. As long as I stay consistent then hopefully I can maintain a pretty solid year throughout the whole junior series," said Coleborn. “Now that I am leading my mind is set on staying there and hopefully keeping on track and taking it out."
Nambucca Heads surfer Heath Joske has earmarked himself as the form surfer leading into New Zealand after a scintillating display at the last Pro Junior in Newcastle that saw him finish second. Joske went on to progress through eight rounds of the WQS event on the Central Coast to reach the round before the Quarterfinals just last week.
Currently 515 ratings points behind Coleborn, the 18-year-old is still yet to lock in a maiden Pro Junior event win, something he is looking to put behind him in the land of the long white cloud. “It’s one of my favourite left handers in the world to surf," said Joske. “To actually get to surf the point with only four guys out is a privilege."
“I want to win one of these Pro Junior events really bad," said Joske. “I’ve had a third and a second and I think I’m capable of it. I just need to get to the final and string another heat together. Lately, I have been trying to simplify my approach to surfing contests," said Joske. “I’ve been working with a trainer, Bill Nelson who has been focusing on my mental approach."
New Zealand’s best young surfers will be in with a chance of securing solid results in the class international field. Gisborne’s Richard Christie will start as the favourite in the junior men’s division, currently rated 16th overall on the Australasian series. “Yeah I have surfed here since I was real young so I know what’s happening in the line up," said Christie. “I think the local Raglan guys will have more of an advantage though having surfed the place every day."
“Hopefully I improve on my rating," he said. “It is a good chance to surf in a Pro Junior event on home soil, so if ever I can make a bigger impression, it should be this weekend."
Other Kiwis set to compete in the junior men’s this week include Keone Campbell (Tara), Ryan Hawker (Piha), Matt Hewitt (Mnt), Johnny Hicks (Gis), Luke Hughes (Raglan), Tim O’Connor (Mnt), Rangi Ormand (WGM), Sean Peggs (Tai), Morehu Roberts (Raglan), Kierin Van der Helder (Raglan), Braedon Williams (WGM) and Paco Divers (Sandy Bay).
2006 girls series champion Airini Mason, who originally hails from NZ but now lives in Tugun, Australia will start as sure priced Kiwi favourite in the girls division. Other Kiwi girls include Mischa Davis (Oratia), Paige Hareb (Taranaki), Wini Paul (Auckland), Jessica Santorinik (Raglan), Alexis Poulter (Rag), Laura Rishworth (Mnt) and Sharnae Van der Helder (Rag).
Early forecasts indicate an unfavorable North East wind for the start of the event on Thursday followed by a slight increase in swell towards the weekend. It is likely the event will re-locate to the beach break Ruapuke for the early rounds which is located 20-minutes south of Raglan.
The Billabong Pro Junior Series is supported by Coca Cola, Panasonic, UV Triplegard, Clearasil, Von Zipper, Kustom, MTV and Surfing New Zealand.
2007 Billabong Junior Series
$13,000 Billabong Pro Junior Sunshine Coast, February 6 to 11
$13,000 Billabong Pro Junior Coffs Harbour, February 14 to 18
$13,000 Billabong Pro Junior Raglan, March 29 to 31
$13,000 Billabong Pro Junior Wollongong, September 13 to 16
$23,000 Billabong Pro Junior Bells, September 26 to 30