Expect a fight at Burleigh
HAVING earlier this month become the first Australian since fellow “Cooly kid” Joel Parkinson (1999, 2001) to capture the ASP World Junior Title, in form Snapper Rocks surfer Jack Freestone will today paddle out as favourite to capture this week's Hurley Pro Junior in Burleigh.
However with a world record USD$25,000 winner's cheque up for grabs, the 18-year-old faces plenty of stiff competition from a stellar 130-man field of domestic and international stars including defending champion Dean Bowen and high-flying Americans Conner Coffin and Evan Geiselman.
“I'm excited to be home after the buzz of the worlds,” Freestone said.
“I've surfed Burleigh a fair bit and I'm looking forward to it, but it's going to be a hard competition.”
More than 130 of the world's best professional juniors converged on the Gold Coast yesterday for the launch of the illustrious six-star ASP event, and Hurley spokesman Mitchell Ross said that like Freestone, the event continued to go from strength to strength.
“The calibre of athletes the event attracts gets better each year and both surfers and spectators will be in for a great event,” Ross said.
“Seeing the top young surfers from around the world take on the likes of Jack Freestone is going to raise the performance standards yet again.”
Local legend and 1988 world champion Barton Lynch echoed Ross's sentiments about the event, and added the importance of hosting the event at such an iconic point break.
“Back in my day if you would have said the prize money was $25,000 it would have been the biggest event around,” Lynch said. “Having this event here in Burleigh is very special.
“To be able to compete here and show off the break's true colours is great.”
The competition is scheduled to run until Sunday with Tropical Cyclone Anthony expected to generate generous swell.
In yesterday's early qualifying rounds it was Coffin and Geiselman who shone brightest.
Coffin scored an impressive 11.25 (out of a possible 20) in his opening round heat, defeating Breaky Vale's Shane Holmes (8.05) and Currumbin's Will Morrison (6.70), while Geiselman (10.5) showed the Australian crowds why he's so highly touted, defeating France's Tristan Guilbard (6.90) and Cronulla's Jake Bracken (3.65).