Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP)
2003 Junior Championship Tour (JCT)
Sebastian Inlet, Florida (Sunday, March 16, 2003). Local favorite Eric ‘ET’ Taylor is now officially rated as the top junior pro competitor in the United States. His home break victory at Florida’s premier surf location boosted his competitive record to two wins, a second place and a ninth in the four Billabong Junior Pro Series events held in the ASP North American region each year this century.
In light wind, head high conditions that the event was blessed with, the ASP judging panel also awarded both the highest wave score and highest heat total of the event in the final to Taylor, who hails from nearby Vero Beach.
Taylor was fast and loose throughout the contest, drawing on an assortment of radical power moves and backhand snaps that kept him in the lead for the duration of the final. The nineteen year old natural footer elected to sit away from his fellow finalists on a peak to the north of the contest area, surfing the longer left breaking waves on his backhand that a storm system to the north of the state produced.
The tactic paid off handsomely when shortly after the start of the heat, Taylor blasted his way down the beach on one of the longest waves of the event to take the lead that he never relinquished. Despite impressive surfing from his fellow finalists, it was Taylor’s day for deserved recognition of his talent as a junior professional surfer.
Runner up Darrell Goodrum was responsible for the defeat of defending champion Che Stang, but could not overcome Taylor’s local knowledge on the day. Two time Billabong Surf Rat champion Kilian Garland pulled his favorite maneuver in the semifinal, an air reverse that drew cheers from the crowd, but did not continue this momentum into the final. New Smyrna local Eric Geiselman, who had teamed up with Nick Guillarte to defeat all comers from round one right through to the semifinal, placed fourth.
The top 6 juniors on the ASP North American Junior Pro rating at years end will gain contestants an invitation to the Billabong Junior World Championships 2003, to be held at Sunset Beach Hawaii in January 2004. 48 contestants will compete in the three day event, and selection is determined by the top six rated competitors from each of the seven ASP Regional Tours, plus six wildcard invitees. The seven ASP regions are Australasia, South America, Hawaii, Africa, Asia, North America and Europe. Previous winners include reigning WCT champion Andy Irons in 1998 and last year’s tour runner-up Joel Parkinson (’99 & ’01), as well as Brazil’s Pedro Henrique in 2000.
This fourth East Coast Billabong Junior Pro was a display of red hot surfing from contestants all aged under 21 in the 64 man field, who journeyed from Peru, the Dominican Republic, Hawaii, California, Puerto Rico, New York, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida to surf the two day event at Sebastian Inlet. Two events remain on the Billabong Junior Pro Series; the Ronnie Burns Memorial Junior Pro at Kewalos, South Shore of Oahu Hawaii late in May, and the Californian Junior Pro this summer.
Official Results of the Billabong Junior Pro Sebastian Inlet
1 Eric Taylor (18, Vero Beach, Florida): $2,500
2 Darrell Goodrum (18, Solana Beach California) : $1,000
3 Kilian Garland (16, Pismo, California) : $800
4 Eric Geisleman (15, New Smyrna Beach, Florida) : $700
5 Justin Wiegand (Carlsbad, California) : $600
5 Nick Guillarte (Indian Harbour Beach. Florida) : $600
7 Shane Upchurch (Oak Island, North Carolina) : $500
7 Brian Toth (Isabela, Puerto Rico) : $500