Laurie rides good fortune
By TONY WHITE firstname.lastname@example.org
ANGOURIE surfer Laurie Towner is riding the crest of a winning wave.
The 18-year-old gained a lucky late start in the prestigious US$60,000 Billabong World Junior Championships at North Narrabeen, Sydney, and quickly made the most of an unexpected opportunity.
After finishing fifth in the VZ Trials and listed as first reserve for the World Junior Championships, Towner's lucky break came when American Tommy O'Brien failed to show for his first round heat on Sunday.
With a dynamic display of power surfing in the 1m waves, Towner beat Yujiro Tsuji (Japan) and Leandro Bastos (Brazil) to advance directly to round three.
"They (organisers) took four from the trials and I was first reserve," Towner said.
"I decided to hang around the contest site and hoped somehow I could get a start.
"I was pretty stoked when the American bloke didn't turn up and I got my chance."
Towner said due to the circumstances of his entry into the main event he did not feel any pressure.
The Billabong World Championships attracts the best international and Australian surfers from around the globe and has proven a breeding ground for future world champions.
Previous winners of the event include three-time men's world surfing champion Andy Irons (1998) and Australian Gold Coast-based WCT super star, Joel Parkinson (2001).
Towner faces defending champion Paulini in his round three man on man, sudden-death heat.
The contest was cancelled yesterday due to small conditions.
Towner only recently returned from a six-week stint in the giant waves of Hawaii, his fourth trip to surfing's mecca.