Jack's quest for crown continues
JACK FREESTONE'S quest to become world junior surfing champion continues today when round three of the deciding competition of the series hits the water.
The best swell of the Billabong World Junior Championships' waiting period is expected today and tomorrow, setting the scene for the under-21 crown to be decided.
Freestone, 18, entered the North Narrabeen event as the ratings leader on the ASP World Junior Tour, having won the opening event at Bali in October.
The Coolangatta surfer takes on Ramzi Boukhiam, of Mauritius, in heat eight of round three.
Surfing Australia's Steve Robertson said Boukhiam, a goofy-footer, would be a tough opponent but Freestone would have the edge in experience.
“He is a very good surfer. That said, every one of the kids in round three is a serious athlete,” he said.
“Ramzi's a goofy-footer and that may, or may not be, an advantage at Narrabeen going left.
“Though he wouldn't have the experience of Jack, who is a hell of a good surfer.”
Freestone could become the first Australian to take the junior championship since Coolangatta's Joel Parkinson in 1999.
With every round he advances, Freestone moves closer to taking the title, but Robertson said yesterday it was too early to start looking at potential scenarios.
Dale Staples, the defeated finalist at Bali, is still very much in contention and takes on Japan's Hiroto Arai in round three.
In round two action yesterday, Narrabeen's Davey Cathels, 19, current No.9 on the junior tour, built momentum throughout his heat against Enrique Ariitu, of French Polynesia, eventually earning the day's highest heat total of 15.83 out of 20 by combining an impressive repertoire of powerful rail-carves, tail-free turns and a no-grab air-reverse on two alley rights to snag a win.
“I started out kind of shaky in the beginning,” Cathels said. “It was a bit weaker and softer than I thought it was, so I kind of had to switch up my game-plan about halfway through and started catching more waves.”
Brazil's Caio Ibelli, 16, ranked number three, defeated event wildcard Keala Naihe, 17, of Hawaii, to keep his chances to take the title alive.
“This is my first time to Narrabeen,” Ibelli said. “I had two nice scores in that heat and I'm feeling much better now after losing in the first round.
“I'm just going step-by-step and I hope the waves are better in the next round.”