So close, but Towner falls to world number one

By TONY WHITE

WITH under a minute to go Angourie surfer Laurie Towner was poised to score a major upset over defending champion Pablo Paulino in round three of the US$60,000 Billabong World Junior Championships at Narrabeen Beach, Sydney.

In testing, choppy half to one-metre conditions, the struggling Brazilian needed to score a good ride to overhaul the young Australian who held his illustrious counterpart at bay for 24 of the 25-minute man on man heat.

Holding priority (first wave choice), luck was with Paulino when he scraped onto a small wave in the final seconds and did enough in the judges eyes to score a 6.5 to edge out Towner, 14.0 to 13.1 (best two waves).

Towner and Paulino each got six waves.

"He got that wave right at the end," Towner said yesterday.

"I thought I had him. When he took off I didn't think the wave looked that good but he must have managed to surf it good and the judges thought it was enough to let him through.

"I was bummed at the result but that's how it goes.

"It could have gone either way."

Towner supporters suggested the judges had been liberal in Paulino's final wave score.

Taking on the defending champion did not faze 18-year-old Towner but he admitted he had not been at his best.

"I wasn't nervous or anything but I didn't feel like I was surfing that good, it was kind of weird out there. Waves were hard to come by," he said.

Towner now heads straight to Victoria for the Globe Jetty Surf Pro Junior at Bells Beach later this month.



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