The Far North Coast has two surfing representatives and one manager representative in the New South Wales team for the Australian Junior Surfing Titles at Margaret River in Western Australia from December 1-7.
Kingscliff High School duo Jarrod White and Keiran Lloyd will surf in the Under-19 boys Allstars division, while teacher Steve Watts (pictured), of Southern Cross School K12 in Ballina, is part of the NSW management team.
It will be Steve Watts’ seventh year as manager of the NSW team. His first was at Margaret River in 2002, a year he remembers for the emergence of a first-time NSW team member, Stephanie Gilmore, now the current women’s world champ.
The NSW team have won the past five national titles but will face a tough challenge this year, with only one team member — Phillipa Anderson — remaining from last year.
Steve says there are 11 new faces in this year’s team, but he is quietly confident of a sixth successive win for NSW.
A fourth team member, Ellie-Jean Coffey, does not reside full-time on the Far North Coast, but does full-time study under the distance education scheme with Southern Cross School K12 in Ballina.
The titles will feature Australia’s best male and female under 18 and 16 surfers.
The event is loaded with a history possibly second to none, with numerous winners going onto elite professional surfing careers which includes multiple world champion titles in both Men’s and Women’s.
The competitors have been selected by the States following a rigorous season of junior surfing and having made their teams have undergone high-level coaching from their respective State coaching directors to prepare them for what will be their toughest challenge in the esteemed careers to date.
NSW go into the event as the champion junior team led by Dean Bowen (Geroa/NSW) and Kirby Wright (Culburra/NSW).
One of the most interesting competitors at this event is certain to be young South Coast NSW surfer Tyler Wright (Culburra/Sth Coast NSW) who will contest the under 16 girls division.
Wright is fresh off an amazing win at the ASP World Tour Beachley Classic in Sydney last month where she defeated the world’s best and as a 14-year-old created history by becoming the youngest ever to win an ASP world tour event.
While that win will give her confidence, she’s certain to know that to win this Australian Title will be no easy task.
Many of her competitors like Ellie Jean Coffey (Crescent Head/NSW) and Nikki Van Dijk (Phillip Island/Vic) have competed against Tyler at national events over the past few years and have beaten her on occasions.
Excellent performances at this event also go a long way to formulating the Australian Junior Team, known as Team Australia, which will compete in the ISA World Junior Titles in 2009.
The Australian Junior Surfing Titles will be running live scores, results, audio, photos and videos.