Underdog Takes World’s Most Prestigious Junior Event

North Stradbroke Island’s Bede Durbidge didn’t even have to catch a lastwave to take out the most prestigious junior surfing event in the worldtoday. The 19 year-old scored a massive 9.65 out of a possible 10 on hissecond last wave, catapulting him into first place ahead of Mullaway’sShaun Cansdell, Currumbin’s Luke Munro and Long Reef’s Zahn Foxton in shifty1-1.5 metre waves at North Narrabeen beach.

Durbidge dominated all day, winning the peliminary final in the morningbefore pulling out the biggest score in junior surfing and his best resultto date with a total heat score of 22.95 out of a possible 30. “I don’tevenknow what to say,” said Durbidge after the final amidst shouts of”Queenslander” from coach and former winner of the event, Michael “Munga”Barry. “I thought I should have got the score on my first wave and thoughI’d wasted my only chance, but when that wave popped up, it was the bestfeeling. I still can’t believe it. I don’t think this one will ever sinkin.” It was a big performance from Durbidge, who despite his early form,remained the final’s underdog with a resume that wouldn’t accomodate a jobwith his final’s associates . His surfing was smooth and strong, with apinch of uniqueness that could now see him following in the footsteps oftheevent’s former winners, who have gone on to become world champions.

Mullaway’s Sean Cansdell led for most of the final, scoring a 7.65 and an8.65 on his opening two rides in the “Slalom System”, where, one by one,thefour finalists have five minutes to catch one wave each over four rounds ofaccumulative pointscoring. After Durbidge took the lead, Cansdell still hada chance on his last wave. He sat alone in the line-up needing only a 5.91.But fell on his first turn. For Cansdell, it was a nightmare image of lastyear, where Adrian Buchan scored a near perfect ride to snatch victory fromhis worthy grasp. “Yeah, I’m pretty dissapointed,” said Cansdell. “Butthat’s the way it goes sometimes.” Cansdell finished on 21.3 points.

In third position was former world grommet champion, Currumbin’s Luke Munroon 20.7. Munro looked sharp all day, pulling off perhaps the biggest twoturns of the final on his last wave. But “Munners” couldn’t find theconnecting shore-breaks and open-face opportunities that Durbidge enjoyed amagnet-type relationship with. “Yeah, I’m pretty stoked,” said the 18year-old. “It’s my first big result in this event and I’m happy with thewayI surfed.”

In fourth position was Long Reef surfer, Zahn Foxton, on 20 points. Zahnhadan 8.5 in his tally but put himself behind the eight ball when he failed tocatch a wave in his third round time allocation. It was a big performancefrom him nonetheless. “Yeah, I’ll take that,” said the only local. “It wasastrong way to finish in my last year here.” All four surfers, along withother standouts such as Jock Barnes and Jay Quinn proved ready to transcendto world championship level with the speed of their successers such as TajBurrow, Joel Parkinson, Dean Morrison and Mick Fanning.

Not to be outdone, the Surfing World Cadet Cup, the under 16 division oftheevent, showcased a level of talent and maturity that had spectators andtheir more senior surfers baffled. Manly surfer Sam Page won the event forthe second year in a row on 19.05 points out of a possible 30, beatingHawaiian standout Ola Eleogram on 19 points. “I was so nervous,” said Page,”The field was so competitive and I’m just so stoked. It’s the best feelingin the world.”

Avalon’s Tom Rudd stepped up the the dias on 18.8 points, while theSunshineCoast’s Wade Goodall, Lennox Head’s James Woods, Palm Beaches RuebenLevitt,Old Bar’s Ben Dunn and Narrabeen’s Matt Capel filled in the minor placings.

The Pro Junior series now moves on to Victoria next weekend with BedeDurbidge, Cansdell, Munro and Foxton taking poll position on the ACC(Australian Chmapionship Circuit) junior ratings. A five-man Australianteamwill also be selected from the end of year ratings for the Billabbong WorldJunior to be held at Phillip Island in November.