CURL CURL, AUS — The 10th annual Ocean and Earth International Teenage Rampage opened in contestable 0.5 to one-meter surf at Sydney’s Curl Curl beach this morning with the U16 and U13 boys kick-starting their charge for an early lead in this year’s prestigious competition.
Boasting a unique ‘top scorer’ based format, the 2008 edition of the Ocean and Earth International Teenage Rampage will see all 220 surfers, representing ten countries, advance through the first three rounds of competition to determine the eight highest scorers, who will earn places into the Quarterfinals to be held later in the week.
Australian Pro Junior Champion and local surfer Cooper Chapman (North Narrabeen) lead the Australian charge against a talented international field by posting the top-scoring heat total of his division, a 12.5 (out of a possible 20.00).
Joining Chapman on the leader board was U14 surfer Matt Banting (Port Macquarie) who looked particularly impressive against his older rivals, winning his round 1 heat with a convincing 11.00 score.
“It was definitely a combination of luck and skill out there today,” Banting said. “I would say more luck than skill even, whoever got the waves was going to get through and I was lucky I got my two off the bat and was able to take the heat lead early on.”
Fellow NSW surfer Jake Sylvester (Bar Beach) was chomping at the bit behind his friends Banting and Chapman, securing a solid 10.00 to slip alongside the front runners and put himself in the running for the prestigious U16 title.
Joshua Hay (Copacabana), Billy Bain (Avalon) and Damien Norman (Casurina) were other progressive New South Wales performers who rose to the top of the prestigious field today.
The U13 division saw some impressive surfing from the Tahitian junior team with 12-year-old O’Neil Massin who posted the highest heat total of both the U13 and U16 divisions combined, during round 2.
Massin, who has travelled to Sydney as part of the 16-strong Tahitian junior team, many of whom will be competition in the ASP World Junior Championships in North Narrabeen next week, dominated his competition in the punchy beach break conditions.
“This is my second trip to Australia and I love competing here,” said Masson a former U11 Tahitian Junior Champion. “The waves are very different from the reef breaks I surf at home but the competition is strong and it is a great challenge for me to compete here against the world’s best.”
Sydney’s Chris Robertson (Cronulla) unleashed the type of surfing that has earned him success on the pro junior circuit this year and was the second highest scorer behind the Tahitian with a 12.5 heat score today.
Rising stars including Izak Clifford (Marcus Beach) and Eli Steele (Moffat Beach) were joined by Jordan Lawler (North Narrabeen) and Brendan Hay (Copocabana) other top performers in this division.
Sunday sees the continuation of world-class junior surfing at Curl Curl beach with the possibility of the premiere U20 division which includes many of the world’s elite pro junior competitors, expected to compete throughout the day.
Names to watch out for include Tahiti’s Tamaroa McComb, USA’s Nat Young and French star Maxine Huschenot while Australia’s top hopes include Queensland’s Julian Wilson and Northern NSW surfer Heath Joske.