World?s young guns are heading to Coffs
By BRAD GREENSHIELDS
AUSTRALIA'S top junior surfing talent is coming to Coffs Harbour.
For the first time in the tour's history, the Billabong Pro Junior Series will this year stop at new locations like Coffs Harbour, as well as Maroochydore on the Sunshine Coast.
Long regarded as areas that are home to some best past and present surfers, these two new events are exciting additions to the series, which aims to expand its reach further into Australia's surf-rich country locations over the coming years.
ASP Men's World Tour surfer and Coffs local, Shaun Cansdell, praised the newly established country contests.
"It (the Coffs Harbour event) will benefit Mid North Coast surfers the most as they will be surfing their own breaks and there will be no travel or accommodation costs involved," he said.
With contests as far afield as Bells Beach and New Zealand's iconic Raglan, the two East Coast stages will be welcome relief to many of Australia's champions of tomorrow.
Many undertake a significant amount of travel in their quest for a Pro Junior victory.
Cansdell is the first to admit the merits of an event close to home, but he also validates the necessity of the travel aspect.
"The Junior Series definitely gave me recognition and exposure and propelled me onto the world stage," he added.
"It's in a class of its own, that's why a lot of overseas competitors come all the way here to compete."
Billabong has promised to continue its long standing commitment to junior surfing in Australasia after announcing their continued funding of Pro Junior events in 2007.
The company will pledge $75,000 in prize money alone, in support of Australasia's ever-expanding abundance of talented junior surfers.
Developed in the early 1990s as a platform for young surfers aiming to become professionals, the Billabong Pro Junior Series is the country's longest standing and richest domestic junior surfing circuit. The five event series, open to aspiring male and female surfers aged 20-years and under, will comprise half of the overall ASP Australasian circuit, which culminates in the crowning of the ASP World Junior Champion at North Narrabeen each year.
Local surfers like Cansdell, Lee Winkler and Trent Monroe all started their professional careers at this level and the Coffs Harbour event next month promises to attract competitors from around the world including Brazil, Hawaii, South Africa, New Zealand and the USA.