A former Southern Cross University student is making a charge towards joining the ranks of local Gold Coast surf legends Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson after attracting international attention in the European leg of the World Qualifying Series of the Australian Surfing Professionals competition.

Southern Cross University Diploma of Sport Management (Surfing Studies) graduate Clancy Dawson (pictured) competed in Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands against some of the world’s best surfing talent, posting the highest heat total of the round in Portugal.

Kingscliff-based Clancy, who was reported to have ‘stole the show on day one’ by local Portuguese and international surf media, said the competition had helped him gain valuable experience and ratings.

“I spent a lot of time surfing with some of the guys on the world tour and we also did a lot of filming, so I really got the chance to compare my surfing with theirs,” said Clancy.

“I felt like my level of surfing was up there with them, so it was very encouraging and great for my confidence. I didn’t do as well as I hoped but I did have a few decent results and I gave it 100 per cent, so I’m happy with that.

“The more contests you do the more comfortable you get in those conditions because there can be a lot of nerves – once you get rid of those you can concentrate on your surfing.

“I’ve got myself a seeding for next year’s competition and I hope to be qualifying for the world tour in the next three years.”

Clancy’s talent has allowed him to join the likes of Layne Beachley in gaining sponsorship with world renowned surfboard shapers Darcy, but he said there was another logo on his board that had attracted attention.

“Southern Cross University has also sponsored me – which was a bit of a talking point on the tour,” he said.

“I had people from all over Australia and the world asking me about the Gold Coast and the Tweed and what I had studied there.

“It was pretty cool – I think I must be the only surfer to be sponsored by their university.”

When he is not surfing competitively or acting as an ambassador for the Tweed and Gold Coast, Clancy helps others achieve their dream of surfing by coaching beginners to advanced levels at surf schools in Burleigh, Currumbin, Coolangatta and Kingscliff.

Clancy, who was among the first cohort of students to graduate from the Diploma of Sport Management (Surfing Studies) course at Southern Cross University, said his studies had helped him work towards his career aspirations.

“My qualifications made it easier to get work as a surf coach, but the course also helped me make contact with the people who are essential for my training, like my coach for example,” he said.

“Not only that, but I’ve also got it as back-up for when I finish competing and I want to look at working somewhere else within the surfing industry – it could be doing anything from managing a young surf team, to marketing for one of the big surf companies, to setting up my own surf school.”

For now, surf devotees can look forward to seeing Clancy in action at some more local surf spots.

“I’ll be focusing on the Billabong Open and the Quiksilver trials for trials at Duranbah next month,” he said.

“These events are great practice for the Quiksilver Pro because the level of surfing on the Gold Coast is as good as anywhere in the world.

“I would love to get into the trials for the Quiksilver event at Snapper Rocks – to surf Snapper with only one other surfer would be a dream.”