”What we really wanted to do was give junior surfersthe full on WCT experience and I think we succeeded.- Luke Egan Contest Director ASP Billabong WorldJunior Championship.
Luke wasn’t kidding. The event site alone for the2003 World Junior Championships was equal to or betterthan any CT. Big screen replays in the carpark, tentsand flags as far as the eye could see, cutting edgetechnology beaming live action and heat scores acrossthe world and bringing in messages of hope and support from distanced relos, Occy reporting on nationaltelevision, pumping three to five foot waves, 10nations of talent and sitting in his chair atop of itall, top 44 legend Luke Egan. And he didn’t put a footwrong.
The occasion demanded such fanfare, after all we werecrowing a World Champ here, here at Narrabeen onSydney’s Northern Beaches in Australia, literally thebirthplace of the professional junior. For over 20years it has been a rite of passage young surfers cameto launch their careers. Carroll came from up theroad. Occy came from the south side of the harbour.Slater came from the far side of the world but theyall came and it all started at Narrabeen. This yearwas no different aside from the overwhelming andastounding talent from countries that were onceconsidered competitive novelties. South Africa, Japan,a host of countries through Europe and the PacificIslands took it to the Aussies, Americans and SouthAmericans with a passion that smelled thick of desire.Considering they weren’t there in the tail end of theevent meant little – their statement had been made – competitive surfing is now seriously global. The contest ran in standard WCT fashion. Three-manround one heats, winner progresses. Sudden death roundtwo man on man until the final. Upsets were rareuntil little known Gold Coast wildcard Leigh Sedleytook out the number one seed Joel Centeio in roundthree. TJ Barron then smashed Dane Reynolds andAustralian junior Champ Dan Ross was left in the coldby 16-year-old Brazilian dynamo Adriano De Souza.
The only big name to cruise through his heats untroubledwas Shaun Cansdell, who seriously looked like a man ina nursery with his his incredibly mature power andlineage. Hawaiians Sean Moody and Daniel Jonessurvived tough heats throughout and surfed withincredible tenacity to etch their paths into the semisagainst Cansdell and the lethal yet unlikely De Souzabut couldn’t produce the goods to make an all-alohafinal. Moody’s loss particularly painful consideringhe need a 2.7 with seven and a half minutes remainingand not even a sceric of a wave showed for the rest ofhis heat. The final should have been a Cansdellwhitewash but for De Souza picking off the only rightof the event and top scoring with an 8.8, threevicious full rail top to bottom snaps that had eventhe parochial Aussie crowd cheering. The local simplycouldn’t match that onslaught in the long but mushylefts.
So Adriano De Souza took out the CT Survivor challengeand in doing so not only had his name etched into thehistory books alongside Andy Irons and Layne Beachleyfor 2003 but also became the youngest World Champ inASP history. As he was chaired from the water byfriends, fists clenched in glorious victory,appreciative crowd cheering him on and draped in theflag of his birthplace, tears began pouring down thetiny Brazilians face. CT experience? Not a trace ofdoubt otherwise.
1. Adriano De Souza (Brz)
2. Shaun Cansdell (Aus)
=3. Sean Moody (Haw), Daniel Jones (Haw)