NEWCASTLE/Australia (Saturday, March 12, 2011) - ALL eyes are fixed on Port Macquarie wunderkind Matt Banting following today’s rounds of 32 and 16 in the Association of Surfing Professionals junior men’s (ASP) four-star US$20000 CHIKO Pro Junior.
The natural-footer let everyone know he wasn’t at Merewether beach for any reason other than to take home the winner’s cheque of $US4000 and 1000 points toward the race for the ASP Australasian junior men’s title.
In both of his heats today, Banting’s first wave scores set a massive standard that were the highest in the competition to date.
He has got a firm grip on the highest wave score (9.5 in today’s round of 32) and heat score (18.15 in today’s round of 16) in the CHIKO Pro Junior.
Currently ranked number three on the ASP Australasian junior men’s ratings, Banting said the the two high scores (9.25 and 8.90) he earned with his first two waves in the round of 16 allowed him to take the foot of the pedal.
“Yeah, it was in a pretty a comfortable lead so I was able to sit back and have a bit of fun out there,” he said. “I’m really enjoying being at Surfest for the third year in a row and looking to make the final and picking up some points,”
“See how it goes tomorrow on the man-on man tomorrow. I’m a lot more comfortable with that so here’s hoping,” Banting said.
But there are another seven surfers who will be doing what they can to stop Banting’s run to the trophy.
Queensland siblings, 19-year-old James Woods and his 17-year-old brother Thomas Woods, are flying under the radar at the CHIKO Pro Junior but both progressed today.
Thomas, the top-ranked Australian in the ASP Australasian junior men’s ratings, is looking to improve on his two second placing in the opening two events in the race for the junior men’s title.
Local Merewether surfers Jake Sylvester and Ryan Callinan both progressed to tomorrow’s quarter-finals. Sylvester will meet James Woods in the first quarter-final, while Callinan and Banting will be the next in the water.
Harrison Mann (Torquay, Victoria) who is on his maiden year on the Pro Junior tour, will meet Jordin Watson (Currarong, NSW), while the number nine ranked surfer on the junior tour, Garrett Parkes (Byron Bay, NSW), will contest the fourth quarter-final against Thomas Woods.
In the junior women’s CHIKO Pro Junior, South African Sarah Baum again showed she is one to watch after edging past local surfer Philippa Anderson in heat 4 in the round of 16.
Baum, who lives about 15 minutes south of Durban, is staying at Anderson’s house.
“Sometimes I beat her, sometimes she beats me, it’s all fun,” Baum said.
Baum etched up the highest wave score (8.50) and the highest heat score (16.0) in the today’s rounds.
Anderson, who is ranked No. 2 in the ASP Australasian women’s junior ratings, said it was “a bit weird” having Sarah staying at her house and being drawn in the same heat.
“But we both got through so that’s the main thing.
“I’m feeling pretty good out there. I have surfed here so many days in my life and love it,” she said.
Anderson will need to be feeling good, because tomorrow in quarter-final three she has drawn Australia’s number one ranked junior woman, Dimity Stoyle from Maroochydore on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.
In the other quarter-finals of the junior women’s CHIKO Pro Junior, Felicity Palmateer meet Stephanie Single, Keely Andrew will meet Ellie-Jean Coffey and Nikki Van Dijk will meet the event’s only remaining international, South African Sarah Baum.
For more on the CHIKO Pro Junior log on to http://www.aspaustralasia.com/live/2011/chiko/