Jack Freestone takes the Oakley Pro Junior Bali

October 8, 2010 | Surfing
Jack Freestone: party time

Australian surfers Jack Freestone (AUS), 18, and Tyler Wright (AUS), 16, have shot to an early ratings lead in the race for the undisputed men's and women's ASP World Junior Titles after claiming respective wins at the Oakley ASP World Pro Junior, event no.1 on the ASP World Junior Tour (WJT), in pumping 4-6ft (1.5-2m) waves in Bali today.

Despite a torrential downpour and onshore winds at the start of play, Keramas turned it on for the world's best junior surfers, with the quarters, semis, and finals of both the men's and women's divisions being completed in an absolute tube fest.

The day's surfing representing a new benchmark for high-performance junior surfing and an accurate gauge on the future stars of the sport.

Australian junior surfing sensation Freestone was the first winner of the day, beating Dale Staples (ZAF), 19, in a thrilling finale to the men's division.

In an extended 35-minute final, Freestone came out firing, jagging the first set wave before slotting through a hollow Keramas tube to jag an excellent scoring 9.57 (out of a possible 10).

In the driver's seat, Freestone added to his two-wave tally with a 4.27 to set up a strong lead for the majority of the final.

But in a dramatic ending, Freestone could only watch on as Staples exercised his priority.

With 15 seconds remaining, Staples snared one of the waves of the day, driving through its cavernous barrel before unfortunately being clipped on the way out.

"I'm so happy. I can't speak right now," said Freestone. "That was so crazy that end bit. I thought Dale (Staples) made that barrel. It was so scary. I'm so happy."

Freestone finished with a 13.84 two-wave combined total (out of a possible 20) to collect US$10,000 and 10,000 rankings points for his win.

At the end of the finals, a victorious Freestone was chaired from the water, where his family and a large crowd of spectators greeted him.

"That's the best win of my life," he said. "Every heat I surfed was hard, but it was so worth it. I'm so stoked."

Freestone's win also signified the best result for a male Australian junior surfer at the prestigious event for some years.

The young Gold Coast ace, who groomed his surfing in the high-performance waves of Snapper Rocks on the Gold Coast, had no easy run to the final, having earlier disposed of Nat Young (USA) in the quarters, Caio Ibelli (BRA) in the semis, before toppling Staples (ZAF) in the decider.

Staples, who could only manage an 8.44 total, which included a 5.67 and a 2.77, said he was happy with the result despite finishing in the runner-up position.

"I was just really stoked to be out there and get a good result," said Staples, who won US$5,000 for his efforts. "A second is still a really good result. I'm just happy to beat some of the best junior surfers in the world. Anyone could have been in that final."

Staples admitted that he was anxious heading into the later stages of the finale.

"I was really nervous," he said. "I was waiting for a set wave all final. But it didn't come until the end. I was hoping the last one would open up but it didn't."

Staples, who resides in St Francis Bay in South Africa, heads to event no.2 on the ASP WJT, sitting in second on the rankings with 8,000 points.

In a low-scoring opening semi-final, Freestone dispatched Caio Ibelli (BRA), finishing with a 12.84 two-wave combined total to Ibelli's 11.83.

After both surfers scored 7's on their opening rides, Freestone waited patiently for his second scoring ride of a 5.67 (out of a possible 10), while Ibelli exchanged boards after creasing his craft.

In the box seat and holding the lead within the final stages, Freestone experienced a nerve-racking finish to the 30-minute semi, with Ibelli needing a midrange 5.34.

Ibelli caught multiple inside waves but to no avail. The talented Brazilian finished the event in equal 3rd position, accruing 6,500 ranking points and US$3,000 prize money.

Semifinal two was just as talent-packed, with Staples edging out Mitch Crews (AUS) in the final 5-minutes of their semi-showdown.

Crews dominated the initial exchanges, netting a 6.83 and an 8.50 to hold the lead for the majority of the semi.

But Staples kicked into gear. With 7-minutes to go and holding priority, Staples dropped into a reeling Keramas wave, driving through the barrel before exiting to post a winning 9.33 (out of a possible 10).

Crews departed in equal 3rd place. In doing so, he collected 6,500 ranking points and US$3,000 prize money.

Finishing in equal 5th today were Nat Young (USA), Conner Coffin (USA), Kiron Jabour (HAW), and Evan Thompson (USA), all eliminated in the morning's quarter-finals.

In the women's side of the draw, Wright signaled her intentions for the ASP Women's World Junior title, defeating Alizee Arnaud – 13.40 to 12.67, in a tight final.

"It was a really tough battle out there," said Wright, who won US$5,000 and gained 10,000 ranking points. "Alizee (Arnaud) was ripping and got two early scores on me. I knew I needed to step it up on my next waves, so I just went for it. I'm so happy."

Trailing with just under 5-minutes to go, Wright bounced back with a 7.50 to hold on for a narrow victory.

The Australian star, who lives in Lennox Head, Australia on the Northern NSW coastline, dominated every heat from Round 1 to the final, notching some of the highest scores of each round.

Finishing in equal 3rd were Sage Erickson (USA) and Airini Mason (NZL), who were both eliminated in their particular semi-finals.

Earlier in the day, reigning ASP Women's World Junior Champion Laura Enever (AUS) was ousted by Arnaud (FRA) in a one-sided quarter-final affair.

Focus now turns to event no.2 on the ASP WJT, starting on January 8th, 2011, at Narrabeen in Australia.


1. Jack Freestone (AUS) 13.84
2. Dale Staples (ZAF) 8.44