We’ve got the power

Warren HatelyAugusta Margaret River Times
The Cowaramup Bay Boardriders will field 14 competitors in the WA surf team.
Camera IconThe Cowaramup Bay Boardriders will field 14 competitors in the WA surf team. Credit: Lucas Englert

The single biggest junior surfing competition in Australia kicks off in Margaret River this weekend — and local gun surfers have the home-turf advantage.

As WA’s leading champion school surfing team, Margaret River Senior High School’s elite squad are in with a good chance of taking out honours in the shield competition as well as the individual divisions. The 2019 Australian Junior Surfing Titles start with an official launch tomorrow and run until December 7 with under-14, -16, and -18 divisions as well as all-stars.

Margaret River hold 14 consecutive wins at State level.

Surfing WA events manager Justin Majeks said the local grommets had an advantage on familiar waves, but all WA surfers were in with a strong chance.

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“Most of our team hail from the South West surf towns of Yalls, Gracetown/Cowtown and Margs and they’ll all love competing in the power of the South West and sleeping in their own beds,” he said.

“I wish all of Team WA the best of luck and I’m confident we can secure multiple national titles in 2019.”

The Cowaramup Bay Boardriders will field 14 juniors in the State team in every division for boys and girls.

“With local knowledge and many training hours spent at the Point, expectations are high for this talented group,” the club’s Brad Mitchell said.

The WA team includes Seth van Haeften, Jed Gradisen, Finn Cox, Sol Pogue-Englert and Danny Benedetti among numerous well-known South West boys.

The girls’ line-up is just as stellar, with Emma Cattlin, Arabelle Gibson, Zali Hewson, Lilli Cox and Willow Hardy among those making the cut.

Pogue-Englert will compete in the under-16 boys’ division. “I’m really excited for the feeling of being involved in the Nationals and stoked for the home-ground advantage,” he told the Times.

Cox will take on some of Australia’s best surfers in the under-16 girls’ comp.

“I’m so excited for the Nationals being at Surfers Point, which should be good for the local kids, and looking forward to being a part of the team with WA,” she said.

Parents, fans and spectators are expected to be out in force for the major national event secured in Margaret River for the first time since 2008, which is seen as another endorsement for the region on the World Surf Tour. It is the first time the Australian Junior Titles have been held at a Championship Tour location and will see future Olympians strut their stuff.

About 400 competitors and their supporters will start hitting the region from today — welcomed by organisers as a boost for the region’s economy as well.

Shire of Augusta-Margaret River president Ian Earl said the titles would again showcase Margaret River as a “world-class surf destination”.

“It’s a pretty special opportunity for talented young locals to get a taste of performing on a national stage with the prospect of tiering up to international competition,” he said. “Furthermore, the Australian Junior Titles serve as a great networking occasion and travelling experience for those attending the event from out-of-State.”

Surfers Point will be the main location, with WSL talking up the chance for juniors to compete at the same break as international stars.

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