Watch out Kelly, Shaun has the tour in his sights
By TONY WHITE
LOCAL surfers Shaun Cansdell and Daniel Ross have been thrust onto the world stage.
The close friends have gained international recognition with a stunning performance in the US$125,000 Sooruz Lacanau Pro in France.
Cansdell, the 22-year-old goofy footer from Mullaway, showed nerves of steel to overcome American Tim Reyes in a heart-stopping final of the prestigious six-star WQS event in thumping waves at Plage Centrale Lacanau.
Yamba-based Ross, also 22, finished equal third after being outpointed by Reyes in the last minute of their semi-final showdown.
It was an incredible performance by the pair, who have surfed together competitively since young teenagers.
Cansdell's win, worth US$15,000, catapulted him into second on the world qualifying tour rankings and almost certainly a place on next year's lucrative WCT surfing tour, which travels to the world's most exotic surf locations. His parents, Keith and Dara, stayed up Sunday night and into the early hours of yesterday morning watching events in France unfold live via the internet.
"We were on the edge of our seats, it's an unreal result, fantastic," Keith Cansdell said.
"Shaun has been on a roll lately.
"We thought Shaun and Dan were going to surf the final together, just like the days of old."
"They grew up surfing against each other.
"We were cheering 'go Dan go', but Dan got pipped right at the end then we had to sit through that close final.
"Shaun was really happy, ecstatic. After the contest he had about a two-hour drive back to Hossegor where he is staying and rang about midnight French time.
"He realises this has probably assured him of a spot on the World Championship Tour (WCT) next year but there are five or six contests left and he's not going to call it yet.
"He's just over the moon about everything.
"This (qualifying for the WCT) is what he's been working on since he was a 12-year-old and to finally get there, well just about, is a really big thing.
"He's worked really hard, is very dedicated, even gave up the drink and has been totally focused on what he's had to do.
"I've surfed all my life, but his good genes must come from mum.
"When Shaun started surfing in contests we knew he was good but didn't realise just how good."
Cansdell first first stood on a surfboard at the age of six.
The top 15 ranked surfers on the WQS circuit gain automatic entry into the WCT against surfing legends like six-times world champion Kelly Slater and three-times champion Andy Irons.
Brazilian superstar Adriano de Souza, the reigning World Pro Junior champion, heads the WQS rankings. Cansdell beat de Souza in the semi-final at Lacanau in a high-scoring contest before snatching victory from Reyes by a mere .19 points in the final.
Trembling with emotion after the win, Cansdell told ASP Europe: "This is the best.
"I've been doing the WQS for so long it feels so good to have a win. I'm so stoked. I can't believe it.
"I was just praying that he (Reyes) didn't get the score and I was so lucky."
Cansdell's girlfriend Heidi, who is in France, is expecting the couple's first child next year. The pair have just built a new house in Coffs Harbour.
Ross, like Cansdell, in his second full year on the WQS, moved to 38th on the rankings.
"This is my best result for sure in a WQS," he said. "It's great to get this far."