Newcastle’s Jackson Baker (AUS) doing his hometown proud. Pic Sproule/RedMonkey
MEREWETHER, Newcastle, NSW/Australia (Thursday, February 14, 2013) – The men’s and women’s Burton Toyota Pro Junior got off to a flying start today with excellent three foot (1.5 meter) surf at Newcastle’s Merewether beach for the first ASP event of Surfest 2013. The opening Rounds of the men’s competition saw Australia’s up-and-coming surfing talent mix-it-up with a slew of international stars.
Jackson Baker (Newcastle, NSW/AUS), 16-year-old local Merewether surfer advanced through his four-man heat in first position. Baker used his intimate local knowledge to amass a two-wave heat-total of 14.75 out of a possible 20. Baker will face Nik Hoskin (AUS), Mateia Hiquily (PYF) and Jack Duggan (AUS) in the Round of 64 when competition resumes.
“The level of surfing was pretty high today,” Baker said. “All of the heat winners were getting 7-point-rides and higher and tomorrow the standard will be higher with all the top seeds entering the draw. It’s really good having the event at Mereweher, I’ve surfed that wave all my life and I know how to read it pretty well. I’m also looking forward to the 6-Star event next week, it’s good to see how all the guys like Parko (Joel Parkinson) surf out there, they’ll probably be smashing it.”
Kanoa Igarashi (Huntington Beach, CA/USA) advanced into the Round 64 thanks to his unique brand of powerful and progressive surfing. Igarashi is one of California’s emerging surf stars and currently on his first trip around Australia on the ASP event circuit and has been impressive thus far.
“This is my first time in Newcastle and my first ASP Pro Junior in Australia,” Igarashi said. “Merewether waves are a lot like home but they have a lot more punch and speed. I’d like to win this contest, it’s one of my goals for 2013. My mum is staying on the Gold Coast and I’m in Newcastle with Chad Wells from Quiksilver. We’re going to drive back up the coast after the contest to try and catch some of the famous Australian waves I’ve heard about.”
Mitch Parkinson (Gold Coast, QLD/AUS), cousin of 2012 ASP World Champion Joel Parkinson, is currently recovering from an ankle injury, although it didn’t seem to hold him back from being one of today’s top performers.
“I had no expectations out there because I’ve got an ankle ligament injury,” Parkinson said. “This is only my third surf back and I was so pumped to get a couple of good scores. I can’t believe I got an 8!”