Hot Heath on home surf
NOT that he needed a confidence builder when the Pro Junior surf series is coming (almost) to his own backyard, but Heath Joske must be on a high today.
Joske is certain to start local favourite when the Billabong Pro kicks off at Macauleys Headland next Thursday after the rising star from Valla Beach finished fifth in the Oakley Pro Junior at North Stradbroke Island on Saturday.
Right at home in the epic 2m swell, Joske was the top-placed regional surfer after making the quarter finals where he was eliminated by eventual winner, Lincoln Taylor, who claimed a maiden pro victory on his home break.
Taylor collected $7000 and 3500 rating points for winning the nine-star ASP Australasian tournament.
Jayke Sharpe (Sandy Beach) and Madison Williams (Diggers) placed equal ninth, and now all three will headline a classic field, due to enter the water off the northern beaches in three days.
Sawtell's Billy Kean will also start and fellow Coffs Harbour surfer Otis Carey is a late entry.
"Being able to stay at home and have the support of the local crew is definitely an advantage," Joske said.
"I had a third last year, so it's a good event for me.
"The wave really suits my style."
Joske admitted he had been surprised at his building run of success.
"I was coming into the year just expecting the older guys from last year to do well, like Julian (Wilson) and Jayke Sharpe," he said.
"The young guys like Davey Cathels (Narrabeen) and Tamaroa McComb (Tahiti/Coolangatta) have come out firing and let everyone know that they want to make top five or ten every event, so that has been challenging.
"These guys are bringing their A-game every heat and you need to be surfing your best to beat them, the level has really gone up from last year."
Recently crowned world junior champion Sally Fitzgibbons is coming to Coffs Harbour and will start top seed in the girls division.
Arch rival Laura Enever will be hardest to beat with Kirby Wright and Gold Coast-based Kiwi Airini Mason also in the market in the heat draw.