COOLANGATTA, Australia (Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2007)- The world's foremost junior surfers will have one New Year's resolution in common come January 2, 2008; to become the 2007 ASP World Junior Champion.
The Billabong ASP World Junior Championship takes place at Sydney, Australia's North Narrabeen Beach, from January 2- 10, 2008 and will see only the top six Under 20 male and top two Under 20 female surfers, as well as four wildcards and two trialists, from eight surfing regions (South America, North America, Hawaii, Australasia, Africa, Europe, Japan and an ASP International emerging region) invited to compete.
The event now in its eleventh year, is the hardest on the Junior circuit to qualify for and the hardest to win. Surfers must reach the top of their respective regional junior series tours in order to qualify for the international competition. The highest seeded Men's U20 ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) surfer from each region is also invited to compete.
Last year saw current WQS ratings leader Jordy Smith (ZAF) add his name to the prestigious honour roll, which includes 3X ASP World Champion Andy Irons (HAW), current World No. 4 Joel Parkinson (AUS) and current World No. 24 Adriano de Souza (BRA), making the Billabong ASP World Juniors an accurate gauge for future world beaters.
Parkinson burst onto the international stage during his junior career, winning the ASP World Junior crown in 1999 and again in 2001, becoming the only surfer to win the event twice.
"It is probably the biggest achievement for an U20 surfer," Parkinson explained. "You can win a lot of junior events but this is the hardest; especially these days when the whole junior world is competing. It's like a checking point, time to decide whether to turn pro and go on tour. I think it is one of the most important junior events today."
The girls division, while only in its third year, has crowned the likes of reigning World Junior Champion Nicola Atherton (AUS) and 2005 ASP Women's World Tour Rookie of the Year Jessi Miley Dyer (AUS) and continues to reveal the depth of talent in the female ranks.
This year's heat draw is brimming with fresh faces with wildcard Pablo Paulino (BRA) being the only returning former World Junior Champion.
Leading their respective regions into battle are regional Billabong Junior Series Champions, Charlie Brown (BRA), Mitchell Coleborn (AUS), Casey Brown (HAW), Rudy Palmboom (ZAF), Adrien Valero (FRA), Noboyuki Osawa (JPN), Adam Wickwire (USA) and Angelo Lozano (MEX) in the guys division and Bruna Schmitz (BRA), Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Alessa Cuizon (HAW), Tarryn Chudleigh (ZAF), Lee Ann Curren (FRA), Nao Omura (JPN) and Courtney Conlogue (USA) in the girls division.
The four event wildcards have been awarded to Paulino, Tonino Benson (HAW), Torrey Meister (HAW) and Tamaroa McComb (TAH) while the two Billabong wildcards will be Paige Hareb (NZ) and Kirby Wright (Aus).
South America leads the team ratings based on the four best scores from each region and has a history of dominance at this event. Three former Billabong World Junior Champions including Paulino (2004), De Souza (2003) and Pedro Henrique (2000) hail from Brazil.
The event format mirrors elite ASP World Tour specifications, meaning junior surfers must compete in man-on-man heats, utilizing a priority system as if already competing on the prestigious ASP World Tour.
In addition, surfers will compete before an ASP International Judging Panel, the same panel which judges their surfing heroes on the ASP Men's and Women's World Tours.
Former ASP World Tour campaigner Luke Egan (AUS) will be the contest director for the fifth consecutive year, presiding over surf conditions and offering valuable insight into ASP World Tour format.
The Billabong World Junior Championship requires six full days of surfing to be completed (four for the boys and two for the girls) and is considered the best preparation for junior surfers hoping to one day compete on the top tier tour.