U/18’s Australian champion SALLY FITZGIBBONS (Gerroa, NSW) and Kiwi sensation AIRINI MASON (Gold Coast based NZ) secured the two Australasian U/20 Girls berths on offer in the Billabong ASP World Junior Championships today.
As chilly gale-force winds battered Victoria Surf Coast officials opted to wait until 2.30pm before calling the action on for day two of the deciding 2007 Billabong Pro Junior Series event.
The new ground swell arrived later than predicted but the building one metre waves pulsing in by mid-afternoon saw the all-important Girls round three and quarter-final heats completed.
It was serious action from the opening round three, heat which pitted the two ASP Australasian Junior title frontrunners FITZGIBBONS and MASON against each other.
Current ratings leader FITZGIBBONS survived with a lucky last wave that allowed her to advance into the quarter finals behind her main rival MASON. The pair causing the elimination of KIRSTIE JONES (South Coast, NSW) and local contender DARCI EGAN (Jan Juc, VIC).
The result put both surfers in an unbeatable position to finish as the top two U/20 ranked girls on the 2007 ASP Australasian Junior Series. The overall 2007 Australasian title could be decided in the opening semi-final showdown where the talented pair will go head to head tomorrow.
FITZGIBBONS who is in the box seat for the 2007 title was simply sensational in the quarter finals, the 16 year-old using a late charge to come from behind with two high scoring rides to post the days highest heat total of 16.70 (out of a possible 20).
Defending ASP Australasian champion MASON was also on fire, advancing in second place with a heat total of 14.00. The 17 year-old keeping her hopes alive of claiming back-to-back titles, however MASON must win the tournament to defeat FITZGIBBONS for the overall no.1 spot.
“I am really excited about the semis. I’ve heard the swell is supposed to be big and I love big Bells,” said Mason.
“It’s just exciting to be against Sally in the semis. I don’t like coming second I want to win again this year. So it’s all down to the semi-finals.”
“I’m stoked to have made the world juniors, it’s an exciting event and it pushes your surfing with all the competitors from around the world,” added Mason.
Contest Director Max Wells said it was worth waiting for the swell as it put the event back on track to utilize the epic conditions that are predicted over the next few days at the world famous surf break.
“Tomorrow we are looking at excellent waves at Bells and we intend to wrap up the Australasian Girls tour and also see the top rated U/20 boys hit the water,” said Wells.
“The swell arrived later than expected but we waited with the aim of providing the best possible conditions for all the surfers. There is big career, opportunities at stake here so we wanted to make sure that we kept all our options open,” he added.
The ultimate event will be staged from Tuesday October 2nd to Saturday October 6th along the Torquay coastline with the world famous venue of Bells Beach being the preferred contest site.
Featuring $20,000 in prize money for the junior men’s and $3,000 for the junior girls along with a field of 160 guys and 32 girls of Australia's and the worlds best under 20 aged surfers