Newcastle, NSW/Australia (Friday, February 14, 2014) â€“ Both the men's and women's divisions of the Hunter Business Boardriders Pro Junior got underway in clean waves at Merewether beach today. The surf was small, but action and scores were sky high as a crop of the best surfers under 21 from Australia and around the globe went to battle for precious ASP Australasia Junior Qualifying Series points and prize-money.
Fresh from his runner-up finish in yesterday's Hurley Australian Open of Surfing Pro Junior at Manly, where he lost the final by less than one point to WA's Jacob Wilcox, Leonardo Fioravanti (Italy) wasted no time in showing spectators why he is the reigning ASP European Junior Champion.
The 16-year-old recorded the top two individual wave scores in the opening round of competition, racking up scores of 9.00 and 9.65 (out of a possible 10) in the morning's sixth heat to sit atop the judges' tally-sheet.
Other surfers to impress included Cooper Chapman (Narrabeen,NSW-AUS), who was also awarded the only other 9-point-ride to tally up a 17.25 (out of a possible 20), two wave heat total and the second highest heat score behind Fioravanti in Round 1.
Flying high from last night's announcement at the Australian Surfing Awards that his surf riders club, Merewether, were boardriders club of the year, local Jackson Baker won his Round 1 heat and etched his name on both top 10 wave and heat total lists.
Baker made the Quarterfinals in the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing Pro Junior at Manly last weekend and the 17-year-old hopes to go all the way in the Hunter Business Boardriders Pro Junior and keep the event's trophy in Merewether, following last year's win by fellow Merewether club member Jake Sylvester.
"I had some fun out there, for sure," Baker said. "I really love surfing here, but you still need to be in the right spot at the right time to get the good waves and the big scores."
Another local surfer James McMorland, who last weekend won a wildcard into the ASP 6-Star Burton Toyota Pro, scraped through his heat to progress into round 2 after edging out West Australian surfing prodigy Jack Robinson by less than half-a-point.
In the women's Pro Junior Brianna Cope (Hawaii) took four of the top six spots on the individual wave score top 10 sheet and easily won her heat in the opening round of competition with a 16.80 (out of a possible 20).
Ashlee Spence (Kingscliff,NSW-AUS) was the best of the Australian contingent, with Ren Hashimoto (Japan) being the only international besides Cope to grab a spot in the top 10 best heat scores.
Action will recommence tomorrow at Merewether beach, Newcastle at 7.30.
For more information, live scores and photos log on to www.surfest.com