Glimpse into the future
By WILL SWANTON
SYDNEY (AAP): The good things in life are mad, according to Andy Irons.
The great things are insane.
The Billabong World Junior Championships, starting at North Narrabeen beach on Saturday, have been classified under the latter by the best surfer on the planet.
"Man, this event is like doing junior high before heading off to college," said Hawaii's Irons, the former world junior champion who has gone on to win the last three men's world titles.
"It's going to be insane.
"Giving these kids an opportunity to surf the WCT format is unreal. Some of them are going to make the top 44 one day and they'll take the experience from the junior championships and stick it to the big names."
The under-20s contest will start with the trials on Saturday ? if the current big swell in Sydney sticks around.
Otherwise, the $60,000 contest can be held any time between New Year's Day and January 8.
The trials will pit eight Australians who didn't make the national team against eight overseas surfers for two places in the main draw.
The main draw will mirror the formula used by Irons and Co. on the 44-man World Championship Tour.
Three surfers will be in each first-round heat. The winner will go to round three while the others are relegated into the sudden-death of round two. All heats from the second round will be man-on-man and knockout.
The best three rides from each 30-minute heat will count towards a surfer's score.
The event is a glimpse into the future.
It wasn't that long ago that Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning fought out the final, and now they're both among the world's very best.
Irons lifted the trophy in 1998 and he's been lifting more ever since.
Among the flurry of junior comps held in Australia and overseas every year, this is the big one.
Make it there, North Narra next week, and you can make it anywhere.