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01.01.05 - VON ZIPPER TRIALS - BILLABONG WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS.
From sarge, North Narrabeen, Sydney Australia (Saturday January 1st 2005)
NEW Year’s Day is traditionally one of setting out to meet new self-imposed goals and standards, and the world’s best junior surfers got straight down to such pursuits in clean 2-3’+ conditions at Narrabeen today in the Von Zipper Trials, the prelude to the prestigious annual Billabong World Junior Championships.

Josh Kerr
Josh Kerr

A skilful Aussie contingent dominated the field of sixteen hopeful surfers who came from afar as the USA, Spain and Tahiti to contest four man heats in a format that ran through quarters, semi-finals and a final, resulting in Cronulla’s Joel Bonning and Coolangatta’s Josh Kerr advancing into the main event which will run in WCT man-on-man configuration from round two onwards.
Pristine offshore conditions greeted the cast and crew of the Von Zipper Trials at dawn on this first morning of 2005, seeing event Contest Director Luke Egan, ranked number five WCT surfer in the world, calling proceedings on for an 8am start. The sculptured North Narrabeen sand banks had the young field excited with fast bowling lefts and longer but fatter rights running off the main peak.
Eventual trials runner-up Josh Kerr concentrated on the right-handers, and was one of the first surfers to raise shrieks of excitement from spectators when he successfully executed an aerial reverse in the closing stages of the first heat of the day. A former world aerial champion and high profiled competitor for years, 20 year-old Kerr revelled in the early northerly winds which suited boosting, mixing those theatrics with solid rail to rail surfing.

Joel Bonning
Joel Bonning

“I wouldn’t say my backhand surfing is my forte, and so I’ve preferred to stick on those little Alley rights. They’re fun, and the wind is really perfect for punting air, so hopefully I can go on with it and get some aerial action as the contest goes on” said Kerr after his right-hand dominated opener.
Having only just lost to world number two WCT surfer in their local Snapper Rocks Boardriders 40th anniversary contest at home on the Gold Coast earlier this week, Kerr looked to be on a roll and the man to beat after the first two rounds of the trials. He capped his great opener with a heat high 8.5 in his semi-final as well.
“That 8.5 was a great wave from out the back”, recalled Josh after his semi-final victory. “It had a nice long clean wall and I got a little bang off the lip and then a really clean re-entry and then finished it with a nice carve. I got all the moves in out the back too, and the judges give you good points if you get your major three turns in right out there from the takeoff”.
Cronulla’s un-sponsored dark horse Bonning was not to be intimidated though. Despite fuller tide and stronger winds with a more easterly aspect markedly deteriorating conditions, Bonning surfed with ultimate flow and utilise good wave choice, picking off the two best waves of the 25-minute final stanza. He surfed both with excellent savvy, producing more speed than his rivals to surf more critically with a consistent vertical attack into the cascading corners of both the long rights he produced his best scores on. With an 8.67 and a 7.5 underbelt, he revealed after the final that he had changed boards from that he had ridden earlier and that may very well have been his secret weapon. A former Billabong Pro-Teen finalist, and winner of the Snickers Junior at Maroubra last year, Bonning has worked the past eight months as a baggage handler at Sydney’s Mascot airport, hoping to finance his pro surfing aspirations.

Josh Kerr, Joel Bonning
Joel Bonning & Josh Kerr

Kerr scored the highest wave score of the final finishing with another aerial reverse, the pair then leaving fellow finalists Paul Fisher and Rhys Bombaci in distant third and fourth places. Both Fisher and Bombaci had been late scramblers from their earlier rounds, Fisher somehow gained the score he needed despite surfing his final wave with a leg cramp restricting him all the way. Rhys Bombaci surfed into the semi-finals after grabbing an 8.9 for several searing snaps in the final exchange of his opening heat, which was won comfortably by Spain’s Gonzalo Zubizareta. The strong natural footer from Spain’s Basque Country, and Californian surfer Patrick Gudauskas from San Clemente, were the most outstanding foreigners of the trials. Gudauskas only surfed Narrabeen for the first time yesterday, but dominated after some committed backhand hits and floaters early in his trials quarter before being pipped right at the end of his following semi. Likewise Gudauskas, who strongly won his quarter with the then highest heat score of the day, but was then minus major scorers to be left fourth in his semi-final.
After completion of the Von Zipper Trials, Luke Egan headed the schedule straight into the main event’s three-man opening round heats. Continuing his blistering form, Kerr defeated reigning Billabong World Junior Championship champ’ Adriano de Souza in heat eight. After a high-spirited exchange, in which Japanese surfer Hideyoshi Tanaka was also in touch, Kerr grabbed a late inside wave and successfully landed a hands free aerial reverse that had all observers screaming as he took his board throughout an almost total rotation. In need of a six at the time, he earnt 8.33 for his mastery. De Souza went an aerial reverse on a following wave, but grabbing rail, his was not near as dynamic as Kerr’s, and the Brasileiro was relegated to the second round. In the following heat, trails winner Joel Bonning went down to Florida’s Tommy O’Brien who got two decent early scores in before the conditions continued to drop and lull out. Other round one heat winners included TJ Barron, Teppel Tajima, Ben Dunn, Jordy Smith, Simon Marchand, Jean de Silva, Dustin Cuizon, Leigh Sedley, Marlon Lipke and Yukio Ogawa. We got to heat 12 of the first round, and will hopefully go on with it tomorrow. The first heat of round two features de Souza against Bonning.
ENDS

VON ZIPPER TRIALS RESULTS
Quarter Finals
H1: Josh Kerr (Aus) 14.00; Yadin Nicol (Aus) 12.80; Dane Gudauskas (USA) 11.70; Mitchell Coleborn (Aus) 10.90.
H2: James Wood (Aus) 12.50; Joel Bonning (Aus) 12.00; Hellari Williams (PYF) 11.90; Michael Spencer (Aus) 10.85.
H3: Gonzalo Zubizareta (ESP) 15.05; Rhys Bombaci (Aus) 14.90; Blake Thornton (Aus) 13.00; Wade Goodall (Aus) 10.60.
H4: Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 14.65; Paul Fisher (Aus) 11.15; Joe Haddon (Aus) 7.40; Jean Sebastien (Fra) 6.25
Semi Finals
H1: Josh Kerr (Aus) 13.05; Joel Bonning (Aus) 11.75; James Wood (Aus) 11.60; Yahin Nicol (Aus) 10.75.
H2: Paul Fisher (Aus) 12.00; Rhys Bombaci (Aus) 10.85; Gonzalo Zubizareta (ESP) 10.70; Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 8.00.
Final
Joel Bonning (Aus) 16.17; Josh Kerr (Aus) 14.27; Paul Fisher (Aus) 9.94; Rhys Bombaci (Aus) 8.73.