Dion Atkinson : photo Brent Mail
ASP Pro Junior Event
Newcastle Beach, Newcastle NSW
29 March - 2 April 2006
Webcast | Heats & Results
South Australias Dion Atkinson and NSWs Sally Fitzgibbons Claim Victories
Vodafone Surfest presented by Billabong to Commence Tomorrow in Newcastle
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 2 April, 2006 : - - Talented South Australian junior surfer Dion Atkinson (Seaford) has won a highly coveted wildcard into the Vodafone Surfest presented by Billabong with his inaugural junior victory in the Wild Surf Co/Billabong Pro-Teen Series at Newcastle today. Atkinson will be hoping to continue his scintillating form when he enters the World Qualifying Series (WQS) in the top seeded round of 96 surfers along with some of the worlds elite competitors including 7 times world champion Kelly Slater (USA) and former Surfest champion Mark Occhilupo (Aus).
After a huge increase in swell overnight, the final day of the ASP Australasian Junior event was forced to relocate to Nobbys Reef as six foot swells closed out on Newcastle Main Beach.
Atkinson used his last ride with only seconds remaining to steal victory from South Coast 16-year-old Owen Wright (Culburra) in todays final. Needing a 7.50 and with the title seemingly already in Wrights grasp, Atkinson took a wave which looked like it wouldnt offer the required score. Blazing two re-entries out the back before the wave re-formed on the inside, the 20-year-old pulled off a beyond vertical close-out bash to leave the decision in the judges hands. The result was an 8.25 and victory.
Im frothing, I cant believe I got it on that last wave, I couldnt hear a thing out there, Im just so stoked, said Atkinson. Its been a long junior career and a really long time coming. I had wobbly legs in my semi, but I had some food and water before the final to get my head back in the right spot, I guess it paid off. It was really good to get some swell for the last day of the contest.
Originally scheduled to surf in the first round of the Vodafone Surfest WQS with the other unseeded juniors, he will now have a few days to think about his plan of attack on the worlds best. I didnt even know that was the case before the final, said Atkinson. I cant believe it, its such a bonus and a really good opportunity. It hasnt really sunk in yet but I think I will have to celebrate pretty hard tonight.
Unlike todays junior mens winner the rest of the nations top ranked juniors will have no time to rest with the 4 star WQS commencing at Newcastle Beach tomorrow, but all will be entering at their competitive best following an intense week of junior surfing action that caps off three months of competition on the highly contested Australasian junior circuit. Australias U/21 ranks have proven they are not to be underestimated against the sports top guns and upsets are again likely in this year Surfest. 2005 ASP Australasian junior champion Ben Dunn (Old Bar, NSW) finished second to WCT surfer Mick Fanning (Tweed Heads, NSW) in last years WQS Newcastle final.
16-year-old Wright, who could have snatched the lead on the ASP Australasian Junior ratings from Laurie Towner (Angourie, NSW) with a win today, was left to ponder what went wrong. The super fast goofy footer was handed his third second placing of the year after securing identical results in New Zealand and also in Victoria.
Equal third in the junior mens division today was up and coming ripper Heath Joske (Nambucca Heads) and experienced south coast competitor Luke Cheadle (Culburra). Joske, who had posted the events highest heat score of 19.15 out of a possible 20 in his quarter final looked to have a place in the penultimate decider assured after scoring two 7.00 rides in his semi. With only seconds remaining, Joske could only watch as Wright took off on a bomb outside set and amassed the 8.20 score he required to pip the 16-year-old at the post. It was an outstanding tournament for Joske who surfed an impressive seven heats from the first round to secure his best ever result of a semi final.
Cheadle was another to post a career high in competition today. In his final year as a junior, Cheadle has constantly placed in round four or the quarter finals but until today had yet to score an equal third. Well suited to the rip bowl style left handers on offer today, the 20-year-old ran out of steam against an inform Atkinson in the semi finals. Only needing a 6.55 score to earn a spot in the final, Cheadle took a wave seemingly fit for the task in the last 30 seconds but unfortunately feel on his third turn, handing the win to the South Australian.
15 year-old Sally Fitzgibbons (Gerroa NSW) once again proved that age and experience are no barriers for her enormous surfing talents by posting an emphatic victory over 20 year-old Nicola Atherton (Bronte) in the Wild Surf Co/Billabong Pro-Teen Girls final today. The pint-sized high school student further enhanced her already formidable reputation with her second win over Atherton on this years ASP Australasian junior circuit, surfing with the style and confidence that has her clearly marked as a future world beater.
Sally Fitzgibbons : photo Brent Mail
Posting a near perfect 9.00 ride in the final, Fitzgibbons used smart surfing tactics in the tricky waves to continually ride the better waves, at one stage almost landing a critical backside aerial. I was trying to catch as many waves as I could, said Fitzgibbons. I just had to surf my own final and it worked out. I couldnt do it without the support of everyone on the beach, it was a great atmosphere.
The conditions were pretty tough with the rip and I was just trying really hard to stay in position, said Fitzgibbons. I was coming 15th so this will hopefully jump me up a bit in the ratings.
Atherton, who was looking to gain maximum points following the early exit of ratings leader Airini Mason (Tugun) went close but couldnt quite match the surfing skill of Fitzgibbons in the decider. The result was a replica of the Billabong Pro-Teen final at Wollongong earlier in the year. The powerful natural footer needed a 7.01 score to match the youngster and came close with a 6.00 with minutes remaining, but it wasnt enough. Currently rated second, the 1290 points earned will still prove invaluable in achieving her goal of reeling in a breakaway Mason.
Not going the whole way is the story of the junior series for me, said Atherton. I just cant quite get it. I guess I just have to keep at it if I want to win.
Securing equal third today was Kiwi Surfer Mischa Davis and Sunshine Coast goofy footer Rebecca Oakley (Sunrise Beach). Oakley was the highest placed Sunshine Coast surfer in the event after Julian Wilson (Coolum) was eliminated in the Quarter Finals.
The Wild Surf Co/Billabong Pro-Teen Series is the first major event in the 13 day surf celebration of the Vodafone Surfest presented by Billabong in Newcastle. The four star rated World Qualifying event will begin next Monday and feature a host of the worlds best including seven times world surfing champion Kelly Slater. All the action from the Vodafone Surfest presented by Billabong at Newcastle can be viewed live from tomorrow morning on www.surfest.com
The Wild Surf Co/Billabong Pro-Teen Series event is supported by Panasonic, Vodafone, Coca-Cola, UV Triplegard, Clearasil, Kustom, Von Zipper, Tracks and Palmers Surf.
Billabong Pro Teen Series Dates and Locations
Feb 7-12 Billabong Pro-Teen Series Gold Coast
Feb 15-19 Billabong Pro-Teen Series Wollongong
Mar 16-19 Billabong Pro-Teen Series Raglan NZ
Mar 29-Apr 2 Wild Surf Co/Billabong Pro-Teen Series Newcastle
Sep 27-Oct 1 Billabong Pro-teen Bells Beach
# 1 : Wild Surf Co / Billabong Pro-Teen kicks off tommorow..
# 2 : Wild Surf Co / Billabong Pro-Teen kicks-off with a bang.
# 3 : Sunshine Coasters dominate at Newcastle Pro Junior..
# 4 : Sydney surfer fires at Wild Surf Co/Billabong Pro-Teen.
# 5 : Wild Surf Co/Billabong Pro-Teen to webcast final day...
Simon Barratt - Billabong
Junior Contests - Surfersvillage