By TONY WHITE
WORLD Championship Tour (WCT) rookie Shaun Cansdell, who learned to surf at Mullaway, has produced a sensational performance finishing runner-up to American Damien Hobgood in the US$275,000 Globe Pro in Fiji.
In a huge confidence boost, the 23-year-old earned US$16,000 and rocketed into 8th on the world rankings behind seven-time world champion Kelly Slater, who missed the Fiji event through injury.
Cansdell's father Keith said his son was ecstatic after his career high placing.
"Shaun was over the moon with his result," Keith Anderson said.
"I spoke to him by phone after the event and he intended celebrating big time and so he should.
"To get a result like this in his first year on tour is fantastic and after his fifth at Bells, it really helps solidify his position for next year.
"Shaun took down some big scalps on his way to the final. He's just stoked."
Cansdell, who now resides in Coffs Harbour with his fiancee Heidi and three-month-old baby daughter Paris, qualified for this year's top tier WCT tour after finishing in the top five on the WQS.
"Shaun is not going to do any WQS events this year, he's going to just concentrate on the WCT," Keith Anderson said.
"He'll be home for a while then it's off to Mexico for the next event.
"Dara (Cansdell's mother) and I are very proud of what Shaun has achieved."
On his way to the final Cansdell shut down Australian Bede Durbridge in round four, world No.5 Taj Burrow in the quarter final and Hobgood's brother, former world champion CJ, in his semi-final.
Held in 2m waves at Cloudbreak off Tavarua Island, the final stages of the contest showcased the world's best surfers in incredible 2m perfect waves.
Cansdell was a standout throughout the contest, but lost momentum in the final against Damien Hobgood following after a tactical error which saw the Florida star grab the best scoring wave of the 30-minute final.
"It was a good final. I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't put together a really good heat, but I'm still stoked to get second in an event and just get to a final at this level," Cansdell said.
"I've always expected the most out myself and that's what it takes. I'm just so stoked. It's a dream of mine to come here and the place is as good as I ever imagined.
"The turning point in the final was that set when I took off on the first one and Damien had the second, because after that no more really good ones came in.
"I was sitting waiting and being patient and then I grabbed a wave and lost priority and it all fell apart from there."