Ethan Hartge and Charli Hurst have taken out the top honours in the Sydney Surf Pro Junior at Manly Beach today following two exciting finals that saw giant turns and giant scores.
Hartge waited until the final stages of the final to strike, unleashing a barrage of gigantic backside snaps and carves to post an excellent 8.40 wave score that allowed him to overtake Xavier Huxtable (Jan Juc, Vic) who was holding down the top spot for the majority of the final. The win is the best result to date for the young Lake Macquarie natural footer and he will take a substantial jump up the World Surf League (WSL) Australia / Oceania Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) rankings as a result of the victory.
"I'm so happy to get this result," said Hartge. "I just wanted to go as big as I could but I just needed to calm myself down to make sure I got the scores I needed to get in the lead. Thankfully I found that last one that allowed me to get some decent scores for those backhand turns. This is definitely my best result to date and all those guys in the final helped push me to do some of my best surfing."
Much like Hartge, Charli Hurst claimed the biggest victory of her career to date, taking out the Junior Girls division. Hurst shone in the long lefts on offer throughout the final, carving and snapping her way to victory with a respectable 12.15 two-wave heat total and getting the win ahead of Cedar Leigh-Jones (Avalon, NSW) and Carly Shanahan (Wooli, NSW) who claimed second and third respectively. The result is a turnaround from her most recent 17th place finish at the Hydralyte Sports Surf Series Qld Pro Junior back in January.
"It was a tough final with some tricky waves and all the girls were ripping, so I found it to be really nerve-racking," said Hurst. "I set the whole aim to get two decent scores and once I got that I just wanted to keep building. I know that Carly got second at the Carve Pro back in January and Cedar got second at the Central Coast Pro at Avoca last week, so I was thinking about that as well, but I just tried to stick to my own gameplan thankfully it worked."
Xavier Huxtable appeared to have one hand on the victory until the dying stages of the final when Hartge notched up the aforementioned score. Huxtable, put up a valiant fight in the final heat, posting a solid 14.35 two-wave heat total, but was unable to find the required 7.61 wave score required to take back the lead from Hartge.
"I'm stoked to get some pumping surf at Manly and this result," said Huxtable. "All the boys were ripping and as the time was ticking down I began to feel more and more confident about winning, but in saying that all those guys have the potential to post good scores and win, so I never ruled anyone out. Whenever someone needs less than a perfect ride, it's always possible to get knocked into second and that's exactly what happened."
Cedar Leigh-Jones (Avalon, NSW) posted her second runner-up finish in a week, taking out second place in the female division behind Hurst. At only 15-years-old, Leigh-Jones finished in second spot behind Sarah Baum (ZAF) in the recent Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro on Sunday, only to come to Manly and post another sizeable result. Much like Hurst, Leigh-Jones will take a solid leap up the WSL JQS rankings.
"I've been trying to surf as much as I could and just keep my surfing as fun as I could, which I think paid off," said Leigh-Jones. "I knew it was going to be tough to win, so I tried to remain as calm as I could leading into the final and pick the best waves I could find."
The elite two-day junior event served as the curtain-raiser to the Men's and Women's Challenger Series events and ran from March 5 - 6.