BY STEVE ARCHBOLD
AS a youngster, Mullaway's Shaun Cansdell dreamed of one day qualifying for the World Championship tour.
The dream has now come true in a year of many highlights for the Australian goofy footer.
He first jumped onto a board at the age of six and 16 years later is ready to take on the best in the world.
A win at Lacanau in France and a second in Japan rocketed Cansdell into second position on the World Qualifying Series this year behind Adriano de Souza of Brazil meaning he will join Coffs Harbour's Lee Winkler on the main tour next year.
In a year of many highlights, Cansdell said it was a huge thrill to learn his fiancee Heidi is expecting their first child.
"I have had a pretty good time on the WQS and my results have been okay but I can't wait to get onto the WCT next year to surf some really good waves," he said.
After finishing 37th in his WQSdebut last year, Cansdell said he expected a lot from himself this year.
"I knew that if I gave it my best shot that I could expect some big results," he said.
"I'm going to approach next year with an open mind focusing on becoming a better competitor and a better surfer in general.
"I feel great to have accomplished one of the goals I have had since I was a kid."
All youngsters have their heroes and it will be a special moment for the 22 year old when he lines up against world champion Kelly Slater who has been a huge inspiration.
"I think growing up I admired anyone who surfed really well," he said.
He believes the key to performing well on the tour is learning from his own mistakes and not repeating them as well as learning from mistakes made by other surfers.
Cansdell says at 22 he is still learning and admits his debut year on the WCT is going to teach him plenty and he will definitely benefit from the experience.
Obviously it is tough for anyone to be away from home for long periods.
"There are a lot of upsides and downsides being away from home but I think what my family and I get out of it makes it all the more worthwhile in the long run," he said.
Having visited many exotic locations around the world, Cansdell says he doesn't really have a favourite venue as he likes to surf a variety of waves.
While surfing has been a major part of his life for many years, Cansdell says he still enjoys spending time with Heidi and his dog Archi and hanging out and surfing with friends.
As someone who will obviosuly be a role model for budding young surfers with the same dreams, Cansdell said he hopes he will be able to inspire others throughout the world, not just in the Coffs Harbour area.
"My best advice to young surfers is that success leaves clues and you have to learn from your own experiences and those of others," he said.
Acclaimed in 2003 as one of the best junior surfers in the world by the US Surfer magazine, Cansdell's performances continually set the benchmark for professional junior surfing.
Now he has the chance to mix it with the big guns like Kelly Slater, Andy Irons and a host of talented Australians on the World Championship Tour, we wish him every success.