SYDNEY, Australia (Saturday, Jan. 5, 2008) – Australian wildcard Owen Wright obliterated all hopes of a second ASP World Junior title for 2003 World Junior champion Adriano De Souza (BRA), with his sensational Round 3 victory at Sydney’s North Narrabeen beach, today.
Competing in monstrous three-meter waves at the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships Wright, who earned his spot into the main event by winning the wildcard trials on Wednesday, posted the highest scoring wave of the day, a 9.67 (out of a possible 10.00) for a series of critical turns and a clean barrel ride.
“Adriano was scoring 7.00’s and 8.00’s and was up on me straight away,” Wright said, alluding to de Souza’s early heat lead. “I was getting pretty tense but I knew I had nothing to lose. I waited to pick my wave and was lucky to get a high score and advanced through to Round 4.”
Wright’s performance earned him a 16.50 heat total (out of a possible 20.00) to de Souza’s 15.50, in undoubtedly the most exciting heat of the day.
Fellow Australian Beau Atchison produced a dazzling performance five heats later, the fifth Australian seed securing the highest heat total of the entire event, a 17.40 to defeat fellow Aussie Matt Wilkinson (AUS).
“I felt really bad eliminating another Aussie, especially someone I’ve been surfing with all my life but someone’s got to take it out for Australia,” Atchison said.
Pablo Paulino (BRA) made up for his fellow countryman’s Round 3 elimination; the 2004 ASP World Junior Champion unleashing his usual repertoire of high risk, performance driven surfing, to defeat Tamaroa McComb (PYF) with a 15.83 total heat score.
“I was very disappointed when Adriano lost out,” Paulino lamented. “I’d hoped for an all Brazilian Final but I will try to achieve our collective dream of winning a second World Junior title, to match Joel Parkinson (two time winner of the event).”
Nineteen-year-old Julian Wilson (AUS) played a tactically smart heat, his rock solid performance and 15. 55 total heat score, resulting in a thrashing for American surfer Nick Rosza (USA), who was eliminated with just 7.17 points.
“It was really tricky out there,” Wilson explained. “It was just a matter of who was going to get the better waves and I guess I was just a little more selective.”
The Hawaiian surfers suffered an uncharacteristically poor showing in the double overhead surf; Tonino Benson (Haw) the only advancing surfer of the six competing.
“I think there’s a big difference between big reef breaks and big sand bars and that’s why the Hawaiians had a bit of trouble today,” Benson said. “There are a few waves similar to this where I live; I think that gave me an advantage today.”
The South African surfers revealed their proficiency in bigger surf and were responsible for two of the five Hawaiian casualties.
Rudy Palmboom disposed of Clay Marzo (HAW) while Brandon Jackson took down Hawaii’s top seed Casey Brown (HAW).
Other surprise upsets included Europe’s Romain Cloitire (FRA) who defeated top American surfer Adam Wickwire (USA) and Germany’s Nicolau Von Rupp eliminating Mason Ho (HAW).
The large surf saw jet ski assistance in the line-up for the first time in the event’s history, towing surfers back out to the back after each ride.
The event was also highlighted by the presence of current World No. 4 Joel Parkinson (AUS) and 1999 ASP World Champion Mark Occhilupo (AUS) who came down to support the juniors.
A total field of 48 junior men, 18 junior women plus four wildcards from eight surfing regions feature in this year’s Billabong ASP World Junior Championships.
The event will be broadcast live via the internet on www.billabongpro.com