The 2020 Sydney Surf Pro Junior World Surf League (WSL) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) event, got underway today in stormy two-foot conditions with some of the nation's best juniors making light work of the tricky surf.
Perennial Pro Junior standout Xavier Huxtable showed his competence in shifty beach break conditions, claiming an impressive victory in his opening round. In conditions that shared an uncanny resemblance to his local Victorian beach break, the natural-footer was able to find a handful of longer-running lefthanders that allowed him to punch off a variety of decent backside cracks and finish the heat with a respectable 12.25 two-wave heat total.
"There's a couple of scattered peaks out there over the entire contest bank, and I was really fortunate to find a couple," said Huxtable. "My whole gameplan out there was to get a wave as quickly as I could. I found you could get stuck waiting for too long otherwise. My focus this year is mainly doing Year 12 at high school as well as the Pro Juniors, so each heat I win feels awesome."
Local surfer and current Australian WSL JQS rankings leader George Pittar showed his eagerness to back-up his previous 2020 Pro Junior victory with a solid result on home turf. The natural-footer weaved his way through a handful of lumpy sections to find punchy sections with plenty of scoring potential. Pittar finished the heat with a respectable 12.25 two-wave heat total and will contest his round two heat tomorrow.
"It's awesome there are some waves here for competitors," said Pittar. "The lineup could be a bit challenging when you get those giant wind gusts but you would get a small moment when it would clean right up. Thankfully, the conditions were a little bit cleaner in my heat and there were some playful waves. I would love to get a good result here in front of my hometown crowd on the beach I surf every day."
Jamie Thomson used the confidence he gained from his recent wildcard into Newcastle Surfest to move through his opening heat at the Sydney Surf Pro Junior this morning. Thomson showed moments of brilliance in his heat, notching up a decent 14.15 two-wave heat total for a variety of impressive forehand carves and snaps. Thomson will face Zeb Stokes, Spencer Kay and Mike Clayton-Brown in round two.
"Surfing in Surfest against Julian Wilson was an awesome feeling and definitely made me realise what I need to do to beat them, so coming here I really wanted to put those tactics to use," said Thomson. "This event here is one I've always felt comfortable in. It's only 20 minutes away from my house and some of the best surfers are here preparing to compete in the Challenger Series event so you really get to learn a lot while being able to stay comfortable at home."
Milli Allport made her intentions clear in the opening round of the Women's division, nailing an excellent 8.50 wave score. The Central Coast goofy-footer showed power beyond her years in the heat, hammering a handful of powerful forehand hooks and power gouges to post the highest wave score of the Women's first round.
"The waves in that heat were heaps of fun," said Allport. "When I found that left-hander I knew it was going to be a good wave and fortunately it kept throwing up sections for me. It'd be nice to find a few more of them in the next heat."
Sunshine Coast native Ellia Smith charged hard out of the gates in her round two heat, finding a bunch of playful peaks. The natural-footer executed an array of impressive backhand snaps and turns to notch up a decent 11.70 two-wave heat total and cement her spot into the quarterfinals.
"The weather was wild throughout that heat, so we went on hold just before we started," said Smith. "I think going on hold may have worked to my advantage as I got more of a chance to assess the conditions and I think that break really helped. When I found that 6.80 scoring wave, I had actually just pulled off another wave and that little left just popped up and ran perfectly along the back and allowed me to do a few snaps."
The Sydney Surf Pro Junior will run from March 5 - 6.