Victorian junior surfer James Noble (Cape Paterson), came from behind to post his inaugural victory on the Billabong Junior Series, by winning the Cronulla contest from local hero Blake Johnstone on the weekend.
The 19-year-old, was trailing Johnstone, with 5 minutes remaining in the 25 minute final, when a solid 1.5 metre wave appeared from no-where, allowing the former cadet champion to score an 8 point ride and claim victory. The lead changed constantly in the early stages, between all four finalists, with Johnstone looking strong at the 10 minute mark, after posting a 7 point ride to take lead from 4th place getter Sean Macgugan (Central Coast, NSW).
“The waves were good in the final about 5ft, it started to clean up as well. But that winning wave just appeared and I managed to get 3 big turns and take back the lead,” said Noble. “A Victorian surfer hasn’t won a junior event for a couple of years, since Stephen Hughes, so that felt great.”
Noble, who was ranked at no.17 on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Australasian Junior Circuit heading into the Cronulla event, has jumped now into the no.10 position and placed himself in contention for qualifying for the Billabong World Junior Championships in Hawaii later this year. “My goal was to finish in the top ten this year, to make the Hawaiian event would just be a huge bonus.”
18-year-old Johnstone, jumped 6 places on the rankings, from 20th to 14th, with his second placing in his first ever ASP Australasian junior final. “I’m still really stoked with 2nd but a bit disappointed as well,” said Johnstonse.
“Everyone was down here to watch me, Mum and Dad, my Grandparents and all my mates. I thought I had it, but then James got that last wave and pipped me. Nothing came through after that.
Event stand-out Jarrod Morrell (Mullaway, NSW) also looked strong throughout the final and was narrowly outpointed for 2nd place by Johnstone. Macgugan, who is now ranked at no.6 and a definite contender for Hawaii, was forced to settle for fourth place. Final Scores out of a possible 30 – Noble 21.05, Johnstone 18.70, Morrell 18.40 and Macgugan 17.90.
Despite bowing out in round 4, NSW, Central Coast surfer Adrian Buchan, managed to retain his ratings lead and also accrue enough points to become the first Australian to qualify for the Hawaiian world junior titles. NSW pair Shaun Cansdell (Mullaway) and Samba Mann (Central Coast), also retained their no.2 and 3 ratings positions, despite being forced to withdraw from the tournament. Cansdell, incurred a knee injury while free-surfing and Mann was suffering a bout of tonsillitis.
The second last event on the 2000 Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), Australasian Junior Circuit is the Mango Junior at Byron Bay in September.