By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
AUSTRALIA's finest junior surfers got off to a blistering start in the Billabong Pro Junior at Diggers Beach yesterday and the fabulous local talent wasted no time in showing they will be hard to beat.
Competing in good one metre waves at Diggers Beach, Valla's Heath Joske set the precedent for his fellow Coffs Region surfers with a convincing opening round victory over French surfer Gordon Fontaine, Matt Dunlop (Central Coast) and Oscar Scanes (Old Bar Beach).
"I live half an hour down the road so I'm really looking for a good result here," Joske said.
"I've had a bit of a slow start to the year but I think I can do well at this event and I'm really hoping for a win."
Despite losing his seeding due to a late entry, which meant having to start his campaign in the first round, Joske showed no signs of being at a disadvantage and was visibly enjoying competing at his home break.
"I'm stoked we've got some swell and good banks," he continued.
"At a lot of comps we surf small waves so to get some swell at your home break with the best juniors around, I couldn't ask for better."
Joske faces a tough heat today when he is pitted against fellow local surfer Otis Carey, as well as seeded surfers Richard Christie (New Zealand) and Chris Bennetts (Gold Coast).
Other Coffs Regions surfers to advance yesterday included Justin Turk and Eli Sharp.
Both surfers secured berths in Round 2 by advancing in second place.
Hailing from the famous Bells Beach, Cahill Bell-Warren made his time away from home worthwhile by securing a Round 1 victory off the last wave of the heat, advancing ahead of Ben Lowe (NSW) and defeating Robbie France (NSW) and Brenton Mazey (Qld).
"I've been doing a lot of travelling with the junior series and I haven't been home for a month," admitted Bell-Warren.
"I like Coffs, the water is a bit colder so I feel a lot more comfortable 'cos you get to wear a wetsuit, just like at home."