World champs at Burleigh Heads
THE iconic Point Break of Burleigh Heads, famous for the "Burleigh Barrel", will play host to the final round of the 2011 World Junior Championship of surfing and decide the ASP World Professional Junior Champion.
Jack Freestone, a member of the Kirra Surfriders club, became the first Australian to reclaim the world junior title since Snapper's Joel Parkinson in 2001.
Last year Freestone won the opening round in Bali and accrued enough points at the second and final round at North Narrabeen, Sydney, to be crowned 2010 ASP World Junior Champion.
In 2011, ASP expanded the series to three events. North Narrabeen's Davey Cathels won the opener at Canggu, Bali while Freestone suffered a shock exit in round three at the expense of local wildcard, Dharma Tonjo.
The defending champion bounced back in Brazil for the second event, placing second to Brazil's Caio Ibelli.
Both Cathels and Ibelli are leading the ratings with Freestone back in third.
Having the World Junior title decided on home turf gives Freestone a big advantage.
"To finally have a world junior event on the Gold Coast is amazing, let alone having it at Burleigh which is one of the highest performance waves in the world," said the strapping 19 year old.
"The backdrop for the event is sick. When you're out in the water there are people standing on the rocks and they're hooting and hollering and being the Australia Day weekend there will also be a lot of Australian pride going down!"
Since 2002 the Billabong World Junior has been held at North Narrabeen and was dominated by international surfers including World Tour standouts, Adriano de Souza (Brazil) and Jordy Smith (South Africa), until Freestone broke the international hoodoo.
Coming back to Burleigh and the Gold Coast is a major move for Billabong and something of a home-coming.
During the '90s the Burleigh-based international surf wear brand hosted WQS events at Kirra and WCT's at Burleigh and D-Bah.
In 2011 when Billabong was facing restructuring problems in America, it opted to pull the Billabong Pro from Burleigh and the Gold Coast, leaving the door wide open for rival surf wear giant Quiksilver, to take over the ASP event with the Snapper Rocks event.
World No.2, Joel Parkinson of the Snapper Surfriders has won two World Junior titles.
His first against Bruce Irons in 1999 at Honolua Bay, Maui and his second against close Kirra friend, Mick Fanning, at Phillip Island in 2001.
Parkinson is currently holidaying with his family in Hawaii but was super stoked to hear the news about his sponsor's return to the Gold Coast.
"I think it's great as the waves can be pumping at that time of year," Parkinson, speaking from the North Shore of Oahu after finishing second to Kieren Perrow at the Billabong Pipe Masters, said.
"And as it's the first time to be held on the Gold Coast, it will be a huge benefit for the Coast especially the young groms like I use to be."
The Billabong World Junior Championships will be held at Burleigh Heads from January 21-29, 2012.
The third and final event brings together the world's top 48 junior surfers (aged 15 to 20) from countries including Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, USA, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Japan, Tahiti, South Africa, France and Portugal.
Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, said hosting the event in Queensland was a real coup for the state.
"The Billabong World Junior Championships is the only event of its kind in Australia, and what better place to host the event for the first time in Queensland, than sunny Gold Coast," Bligh said.
Billabong's brand manager, Andrew Flitton, was delighted with returning back on the Coast.
"Billabong has not had the opportunity to bring a major event to the Gold Coast since 2000," he said.
"The last event we staged here was a Billabong Pro world tour surfing event at Burleigh and D-Bah so what better way to return than with an event that showcases the future stars of surfing.
"Burleigh is one of the world's best sand-bottom points, which is great for high performance surfing, and it is also an amazing place for spectators to get close to the action."
Spot on Flynno. Burleigh is one of the best surfing amphitheatres on the planet and will be extremely colourful with the Australia Day flags flying.