Not bad first up
AUSTRALIA'S top ranked junior surfer, Angourie's Laurie Towner, proved his surfing versatility yesterday on day two of the Vodafone Surfest presented by Billabong at Newcastle Beach.
Towner powered through his second-round heat in clean 1m left and right breaking waves.
Nominated last week for a Billabong XXL Global big wave award, the 19-year-old has emerged as one of the country's best junior surfing talents.
The unassuming natural footer will rub shoulders with the biggest names in the sport at the Big Wave award ceremony in California on April 14.
Competing in his first world qualifying series event, Towner notched up a 9.17 on his opening ride this morning before locking in a back up 6.67 to easily progress over Blake Wilson (Alexandra Headland), Tom Rudd (Avalon) and David Steele (Seaford).
"I had a good heat just then and hopefully I can keep going and get through a few more heats," said Towner.
"It's not great out there, but there are definitely a couple of fun ones.
"This is my first WQS event so to see names like Slater and Occy in the draw is pretty crazy because they are all the world's best surfers.
"I'm sure they all want to win it so it will be hard to go good but I'll definitely be trying my hardest."
Towner backed up his round two win with another solid victory in the third round.
Despite a near interference call with Gold Coaster Dru Adler where both surfers crossed mid face, Towner went on to find the days only tube ride and score an 8.17, easily winning over Adler, Marc Lee (Trigg) and James Triglone (Manly).
Gold Coaster Brendan Leckie (Palm Beach) caused an upset in his round three heat when he eliminated Monday's clear standout Joel Fitzgerald (Narrabeen).
Despite holding the heats high score of a 7.0, Fitzgerald couldn't replicate the form that saw him dominate in Monday's solid conditions while Leckie reveled in the smaller conditions.
The 18-year-old's consistent 6.83 and 6.23 rides were enough to see him take victory over the USA's Nick Rozsa, who posted a combined two wave heat total of 12.17.
Fitzgerald was only 0.3 points off the pace on 12.13.
Also progressing through second round heats at Newcastle yesterday was Adam Melling (Lennox Head), Rique Smith (Gold Coast), Blake Wilson (Alexandra Headlands), Wade Goodall (Caloundra), Jesse Adam (Merewether), Will Lewis (Gold Coast) and Michael Campbell (Port Macquarie).