Chris Friend 

Sunshine Coast surfing young gun Chris Friend (Twin Waters) has received a timely confidence boost heading into the business end of the Australasian Pro Junior series, upstaging a 48-strong field of the state’s premier open aged surfers to win the Billabong North Classic at Coolum Beach yesterday.

In the absence of QCC front-runners Corey Ziems (Currumbin), Shaun Gossmann (Burleigh Heads) and Blake Wilson (Alexandra Headlands), who opted to miss the fifth leg of the six round Billabong Queensland Championship Circuit (QCC) to compete at the 5-star World Qualifying Series (WQS) event in Spain, Friend surfed his way into the state surfing spotlight to bag $2000 and 1000 all-important QCC rating points.

The Sunshine Coast ace let rip in the small 2-3 ft (0.5-1-metre), onshore conditions, blending a high-speed, fluid approach with explosive moves to beat fellow Sunshine Coaster Luke Jory (Sunshine Beach), Yamba ripper Matt Jones (NSW) and Gold Coaster Jamie Thomson (Elanora) in a wave starved, 25-minute final.

 

However, it wasn’t one-way traffic for Friend, having to set free his full bag of tricks to finish just 0.3 of a point in front of Jory at the final buzzer.

“I’m over the moon,” said Friend, who is currently ranked 14th on the ASP Australasian Pro Junior Series ratings. “I haven’t won an event in over a year, so it feels great to finally get the monkey off my back.”

Friend was on fire early in the low-scoring exchange, netting an 8.00 to setup a commanding lead. Backing it up with a 4.80, Friend held off his foes to claim the win, finishing with a 12.80 two-wave combined total to Jory’s 12.50.

“The 8-point ride on my first wave really set things up for me,” he said. “I only had an average second scoring ride, but luckily for me the ocean went flat for the back end of the final.”

The victory – his first QCC round win– puts him in good stead heading into the final two events of Pro Junior season.

“The win was a real confidence shot for me,” he said. “After a slow start to year I’m feeling primed for a big finish.”

Jory received some consolation with his runner-up placing representing his best result in the 2008 season. Jones finished in third on 10.85-points with Thomson in fourth on 8.65.

Despite missing the event, Ziems maintains his ratings lead with only the Billabong Queensland Open remaining in this year's series. There he sits on top with 3840-points, nearly 200 clear of Jones (2650) in second, with Dave Reardon-Smith (Yaroomba) in third on 2590.

Adding to the event’s already high stakes was the Tooheys Extra Dry ‘Wave of the Weekend'. Reigning QCC champion Trevor Tripcony (Yaroomba) notching the event’s highest wave score (8.75) to win four cartons of the clean crisp taste of Tooheys Extra Dry. Not a bad score for a single wave!

With five rounds of the Billabong QCC completed, the sixth and final leg will kick off on the Gold Coast on December 6-7.

The Billabong North Shore Classic was the fifth event of the 2008 Billabong Queensland Championship Circuit (QCC), a six event - $30,000 series, that continues to set the benchmark for surfers aspiring towards a professional surfing career.

The 2008 Billabong QCC title will be decided from a surfer’s best four results from the six event series. The series winner score a wildcard into the trials of the World Tour event on the Gold Coast in early March, 2009.