Big scores defy small conditions in pro junior event
Both men's and women's competition got underway in clean waves at the Association of Surfing Professionals Hunter Business Boardriders Pro Junior 1-Star at Merewether beach.
And despite the small conditions, there were some big scores.
Fresh from his second placing in yesterday's Hurley Pro Junior final in Manly - where he lost the final by less than a point to Aussie Jacob Wilcox - Leonardo Fioravanti (Italy) wasted no time in showing spectators why he is the reigning Association of Surfing Professionals European junior champion.
The 16-year-old recorded the top two individual wave scores in the opening round of 96, racking up scores of 9 and 9.65 (out of a possible 10) in the morning's sixth heat to sit atop the judges' tally-sheet.
Other surfers to impress included Aussie Cooper Chapman from North Narrabeen, who was also awarded the only other 9 to rack up a 17.25 and the second highest heat score behind Fioravanti in the round of 96.
Aussies filled the top 10 lists of highest wave and heat score in the opening round, except for Matein Hiquily (French Polynesia).
Flying high from last night's announcement at the Australian Surfing Awards that his surfboard club - Merewether - were surfboard club of the year, local Jackson Baker won his heat and etched his name on both top 10 wave and heat lists.
While his home club is celebrating both the award and their 50th anniversary in 2014, Baker knows one heat win does not win you a Pro Junior.
Baker made the quarter-finals in the Hurley Pro Junior in Manly last weekend and the 17-year-old hopes to go all the way in this competition and keep the event's trophy in Merewether following last year's win in the same event by fellow club member Jake Sylvester
"I had some fun out there, for sure," Baker said.
"I really love surfing here but you still need to be in the right spot at the right time."
Another local surfer James McMorland - who last weekend won a wildcard into the 6-Star Burton Toyota Pro starting at this beach on Monday - scraped through his heat to progress to tomorrow's round of 64 after edging out West Aussie surfing prodigy Jack Robinson by less than half-a-point.
In the women's Pro Junior Hawaiian Brianna Cope took four of the top six spots on the individual wave score top 10 sheet and topped the judge's sheets in the opening round of 24 with a 16.80.
Ashlee Spence was the best of the Aussie contingent, with Japan's Ren Hashimoto being the only international besides Cope to retain a spot in the top 10 best heat scores.
Action will recommence tomorrow at Merewether beach at 7.30 with heat three in the round of 64 in the junior mens.
Photo: Italian surfer and reigning ASP European junior champion Leonardo Fioraventi in action during the opening round today - courtesy of RedMonkey.