COOLANGATTA, AUSTRALIA (Tuesday, 22 December, 2009): Aussies Mick Fanning and Stephanie Gilmore may be the toast of the surfing world having wrapped up the men’s and women’s World Titles in Hawaii, but the focus now shifts to South Africa’s fledgling junior stars to see if they can make history by claiming the world’s premier junior surfing event – the 2009 Billabong ASP World Junior Championships fuelled by Monster Energy – due to take place at Sydney’s North Narrabeen beach over eight days beginning January 9, 2010.
The winners will be crowned alongside Fanning and Gilmore at the ASP World Champions banquet on Queensland’s Gold Coast next February, and the South African contingent will certainly have their work cut out for them if they are to emulate the success of Jordy Smith who famously dominated the event to claim victory in 2006.
Klee Strachan (Winkelspruit) enters the competition as one of the country’s favourites, thanks to a string of excellent results during the season and a top-4 finish in the ASP Africa Pro Junior rankings that has secured the 20 year-old a seed directly into the main event.
“Last year I made round three but got knocked out by Julian Wilson (AUS) who is an unbelievable surfer so I was not too bummed,” said Strachan.
“It’s an awesome event and all the surfers in the contest surf really well. I am definitely looking to do well this year. I’ve had three years to see how the standard is so I’ve been training to do well,” he added.
Four of the country’s hottest juniors will join Strachan at North Narrabeen in the 48-man field; they include ASP Africa Pro Junior champion Chad Du Toit (Durban), Casey Grant (Scottburgh), Beyrick de Vries (Umhlanga) and Kyle Lane (Durban).
This will be Strachan’s third appearance at the event. Having competed in the prestigious tournament last year when Hawaiian Kai Barger (Maui) went on to win in an all-international finals showdown versus Brazilian Jadson Andre (Natal City), he reflects on the 2009 showdown.
“All the other SA guys are always amped to do their best and all of them can perform at world class standard on their day. Every surfer who has done well at Narrabeen has made their name from it and only gone on to bigger things and I’m pretty sure we’re each capable of going all the way and winning it,” Strachan added.
One only has to look to Men’s ASP World Champion elect Mick Fanning (Gold Coast, QLD, AUS) however, to realize the enormity of the task at hand for the fledgling juniors. Despite having two ASP Men’s world titles to his credit, Fanning could never claim the prestigious junior crown.
“I never got one … it’s a tough title to win,” said Fanning, whose best result was a runner-up finish to compatriot Joel Parkinson in 2001.
“Back in the day it was really a battle between the Americans, Hawaiians and Aussies but these days there are contenders from each of the ASP regions and I think the list of recent past winners is a reflection of that.”
Mick’s pick for 2009? Explosive 19 year-old Aussie goofy-foot, Owen Wright (Lennox Head, NSW).
“Owen is World Champ material if you ask me. I’ve watched him evolve over the years and he’ll be the man to beat at the World Juniors for sure, provided he’s recovered from some heavy injuries suffered during the Portugal World Tour event,” said Fanning.
Sarah Baum (Athlone Park) and Bianca Buitendag (George) will represent South Africa in among the 18-strong girls division and the super-talented teenagers have a good chance of wrestling the world’s most prestigious junior title from defending event champion, Pauline Ado of France.
Ado last year halted the streak of wins by Australian females who have dominated the division since its inception in 2005.
The Billabong ASP World Junior Championships fuelled by Monster Energy mirrors the competition format of the ASP World Tour and is considered the sport’s ‘crystal ball’ for aspiring champions. In addition, a finals placing in the tournament affords the successful surfers an unrivalled seeding on the World Qualifying Series that serves as a springboard to the ASP World Tour.
Eight world regions are represented in all, including North and South America, Europe, Australasia, Africa, Japan, Hawaii and various wildcards.
Honour roll of past winners:
Men: 1998 Andy Irons (HAW), 1999 Joel Parkinson (AUS), 2000 Pedro Henrique (BRA), 2001 Joel Parkinson (AUS), 2002 N/A, 2003 Adriano de Souza (BRA), 2004 Pablo Paulino (BRA), 2005 Kekoa Bacalso (HAW), 2006 Jordy Smith (ZAF), 2007 Pablo Paulino (BRA), 2008 Kai Barger (HAW)
Girls: 2005 Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), 2006 Nicola Atherton (AUS), 2007 Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), 2008 Pauline Ado (FRA)
Check out the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships fuelled by Monster Energy at North Narrabeen via the live Internet webcast at www.billabongpro.com
The Billabong ASP World Junior Championships is being made possible thanks to the support of MONSTER ENERGY,SONY, VW, VonZipper, VIRGIN BLUE, Warringah Council, Surfing NSW, NSW Sport & Recreation, ASL Magazine and HONDA Aquatrax.
Additional Media Information: High-resolution digital images for media will be made available. Please contact:
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Television Newsfeeds: A national TV newsfeed will be made available prior to, and on competition days throughout the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships fuelled by Monster Energy. In addition, a single international TV feed will be made available following the final.
“JJ” (Johnathan Jenkins)
Int. mobile: +61 (0) 421 384 431
Billabong Australia – Communications Manager
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Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Media
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ASP Africa Media
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About ASP: The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) is the governing body of professional surfing. Crowning surfing’s undisputed world champions since 1976, the ASP sanctions the following tours: the ASP World Tour, the ASP Women’s World Tour, the World Qualifying Series (WQS) and the World Longboarding, Junior and Masters Championships. The ASP is dedicated to showcasing the world’s best surfing talent in a variety of progressive formats and has revolutionized the way the world watches surfing via their webcasts. The organization is divided into seven different regions: Africa, Japan, Australasia, Europe, Hawaii, North America, and South America.