MANLY, NSW/Australia (Saturday, 18 February, 2012) – Matt Banting (AUS) and Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) have taken out the Australian Open of Surfing Pro Juniors presented by Hurley and Billabong at Manly beach today. The morning saw the eight Quarterfinalists decided in the Men’s ASP 6-Star division with a number of the top seeds bowing out including Joel Parkinson (AUS) and Jordy Smith (ZAF). Then in the afternoon the Men’s and Women’s Pro Junior divisions were run and won by two of Australia’s most exciting up-and-comers.
Matt Banting (AUS) continued his devastating run of form at the Australian Open Of Surfing today. In the morning in his ASP 6-Star Round of 16 heat he posted the highest heat total of the event thus far, a near perfect 19.33 (out of a possible 20). He then took out the Pro Junior Final over Tim Macdonald (AUS) thanks to his technical aerial game.
“I’m over the moon right now!” Banting said. “I’ve been trying to win an ASP Pro Junior Series event for the last two years, I’m so happy! Tim (Macdonald) rips, just to be in a heat like that with him means a lot because we’re good mates. I just want to see how well I can do in the ASP 6-Star finals tomorrow.”
Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) claimed her second consecutive ASP Australasia Pro Junior Series Title at the The Australian Open Of Surfing today. Van Dijk defeated Philippa Anderson (AUS) in an exciting Final thanks to her trademark smooth style.
“I’m so so happy!” Van Dijk said. “It’s a great start to the year, I know I said the same thing at the last event, but it’s still all sinking in. To win here at the first Australian Open means so much. The crowd on the beach is insane, I though it might make me nervous, but during the heat it just felt normal. The waves were good and Philippa (Anderson) just got unlucky that I caught the good ones.”
Evan Gieselman (USA) advanced to the Quarterfinals of the Australian Open of Surfing today after eliminating fellow American and good friend Kolohe Andino (USA). Gieselman was in sync with the ocean, finding all the best waves in the heat and used his variety of exciting moves to post some decent scores
“I’ve been surfing against Kolohe (Andino) since I was 10, it’s always a fun match-up and I’m really glad to get the win,” Gieselman said. “On my first wave I got a 7.33 (out of a possible 10), then got a 6.33 under his priority and that put all the pressure on him. I’m really stoked to be through to the Quarterfinals, this is my first good result in a 6-Star and I’m looking forward to the rest of the event!”
Alex Ribeiro (BRA) was ecstatic after he defeated the event number one seed Joel Parkinson (AUS). Parkinson struggled in the smaller conditions, while Ribeiro said the surf was a lot like his home break in Brazil.
“This is a dream for me!” Ribeiro said. “I am so happy, that was the best heat of my life! When I was little I would watch all of Parko’s movies and I remember watching him surf at home in Brazil, so to be in a competition with him is so good for me, but now I just have to try and focus on the Quarterfinals.”
Billy Stairmand (NZL) scored an epic come from behind victory over one of the event’s standout performers Mitch Crews (AUS). Needing a big score to advance to the Quarterfinals, Stairmand found a nice left-hander in the dying minutes and launched into some solid turns and airs.
“I started off slow and I heard that Mitch (Crews) was getting some good scores down the beach, so I was lucky to get that good left at the end and get through the heat,” Stairmand said. “I’m just stoked to start the year off good, this event is close to home and I’m having a great time.”
Adrian Buchan (AUS) bucked the trend of the top seeds losing. Buchan found two long lefts and launched into a series of sharp snapping turns and a big alley oop, sending Adam Melling (AUS) home with an equal 9th place finish.
“That was a good heat, it was a good test for me,” Buchan said. “Adam (Melling) looked really strong at this event, he’s been working hard over the last few months so it’s good to win that one. I just found some nice little lefts that did the trick for me. I like to take to air if I have to, and if the section is right, but I know my rail work can get me some big scores too. It’s been a good summer for waves at home, I haven’t surfed waves this small in a while, but I’ve got good boards that are working out there.”
Tomorrow the Australian Open Of Surfing will see the Finals of the Men’s and Women’s ASP 6-Star divisions and will also feature skating competitions and demos, music concerts, athlete signing sessions and much more. The event is free for the public to view in person and live on the internet via australianopenofsurfing.com
Photo: Matt Banting winner of the Australian Open of Surfing Pro Junior presented by Hurley and Billabong at Manly beach. Image Credit: © ASP/Dunbar