Sat., January 8, 2005 — BRAZIL's Pablo Paulino claimed Brazil's third Billabong World Junior Championship title by defeating Hawaii's Dustin Cuizon in the final of the sixth annual tournament at North Narrabeen today. The unconquerable 19 year-old, made light work of early morning conditions that were extremely choppy and bumpy. Surfing smartly and swiftly, he absolutely dominated the day's proceedings, combo-ing his adversaries in both his semi-final and final to bring home a resounding victory as the new 2004 ASP World Junior Champion.
Pablo added his name to an honour list that includes reigning three-times world WCT champion Andy Irons who won the prestigious Billabong World Junior Championships in 1998, current world no.2 Joel Parkinson who won in 1999 and 2001, and fellow Brazilians Pedro Henrique who was champ in 2000, and Adriano de Souza who was this year's defending champion.
As Germany's achieving goofy footer Marlon Lipke looked out over the strongly onshore North Narrabeen lineup this morning and readied himself for his Billabong World Junior Championships semi-final against Pablo Paulino, he made a very obvious statement declaring "It looks really hard out there". That was in fact an understatement. Howling onshore southerly winds that rose overnight were continuing to rip the 0.5-1.5m swell to tatters, casting massive chops and bumps into the scarce sets, the surfers sometimes looking as though they were attempting to ride river rapids instead of waves. It was tough conditions indeed, but the world's best juniors rose to the challenge.
Defying the extremely testing and tedious conditions, Pablo Paulino showed impeccable wave choice and rhythm right from the starting hooter. Coming from Ceara, near Fortaleza, on Brazil's upper north facing coastline, where conditions are invariably windy, the goofy footer surfed as though accustomed to the bump and chop.
Whilst his adversary Lipke struggled to find anything resembling a rippable face, the Brazilian somehow glided over the chop, skilfully finding clean sections and arcing through them on rail to link multiple sections. He progressively amassed a solid margin over the big German goofy footer who failed to get a wave that allowed anything more than single manoeuvres.
"I am still so happy! I'm third in the world!" declared Marlon Lipke after losing the semi-final match-up. "At the start of the contest, I never thought of getting so far against all the Australians, Hawaiians, Brazilians…the standard was so high. I have watched some great surfing, and learnt a lot."
"I was waiting for rights at first, but then Pablo started scoring lefts, so I thought I better go left, but there was nothing coming in for me there either. That's the way it goes"
Having just signed on with the Billabong team in Brazil about a month ago, Pablo was simply ecstatic with moving into the final of his sponsor's event, as well as psyched with the opportunity to match the result of his countryman Adriano de Souza who clinched the Billabong World Junior Championship title last year.
"I am stoked to make the final for my new sponsor Billabong, and want to return to Brazil very happy by bringing the championship back to Brazil again" said Paulino through English translation from his team mate Jean da Silva.
In the second semi-final, South Africa's Shaun Payne had similar frustrations to Germany's Lipke, truly battling to find a wave to open up and allow him to lay anything decent down. It was not until his last two waves in the final few minutes that he managed to get a wave score over three.
Hawaii's Dustin Cuizon meanwhile had claimed a 5.33 for a long but sectiony right at the beginning of the heat, and that remained the lowly scoreline to match until the very end of their wave-starved exchange. With three minutes remaining, Dustin sealed the deal when he found a sizeable left and laid three backhand hooks into the rare clean face of it to bring home a 6.5, the highest score of the semi-final
"It was like a river out there then. So much cross current. You just have to keep paddling and try and find the good ones," testified Cuizon.
"Even if you actually got a wave, it was still real hard work because you didn't know if it was going to wall up or suck out…you just have to ride them on down the line and see what happened. I got lucky with my last left. I'm stoked to be in the final"
As an ominous looking storm front moved in from the south and began to sprinkle light showers, the formerly strong southerly winds dropped back substantially to allow the exceedingly bumpy waves to eventually clean up for the final.
In the first half of the man on man showdown, neither surfer had much luck in getting waves that allowed more than one or two moves. Waves either closed out or simply faded into fat sections, disallowing either surfer of really get speed going and being able to lay down solid moves of any consequence.
The first significant exchange came a third through the 35 minute final stanza, Cuizon heading right on what was his third wave and managing five moves on a still bumpy wall, linking snaps and carves before a closeout floater to score 5.17. On the very next wave, Paulino took off on his forehand getting speed heading left to lay several clean snaps in the bowl getting a score of 6.5.
With 17 minutes remaining, the Brazilian put the first of two high scores into play with an 8.0 for another good left as conditions continued to improve with the dropping wind. Paulino continued trying to find points on several sneaky left insiders whilst Cuizon hunted several rights. Cuizon's best chance came with eight minutes to go when he gouged a snap and flew through a carve to set up speed for the inside but then fell charging a floating re-entry on the final section. He got a 6.0 and was left needing an 8.5 scoreline.
"It was very hard out there," said Cuizon who was riding a 5'9" board. "The wind chops were hard to read, and not many of the waves I caught had any lip on them."
"We were kind of even until he got that eight pointer. After that I was searching everywhere for something with some pocket, but nothing came in for me. Pablo deserved to lead as he did because almost all the waves he caught walled up nicely, and he surfed them well."
Pablo Paulino put the result beyond doubt a matter of minutes later when he latched onto what was one of the cleanest walls of the final. Surfing it in true champion style, he made the most of its potential. Driving hard off the bottom out of every move he maintained a swift pace as he headed left to connect a strong snap into a re-entry, another snapping carve, and then finally a big snap into the final closing section. At that stage, the Brazilian contingent ran down the beach screaming, their green and gold flag raised triumphantly in victory. Brazil and the world had a new champion.
Again speaking through Jean da Silva after being chaired up the beach by a typically vocal and passionate Brazilian throng, and being crowned as the new Billabong World Junior Champion, Pablo dedicated the win to his family, and assured the large crowd of spectators that he would be back to defend his title next year.
"I am very proud and happy to represent my country and to win the contest," said Pablo. "Our team of seven came here after 114 surfers from Brazil competed in the pro junior events there to qualify to come here."
"Adriano de Souza was one of the most important people in the history of surfing in Brazil because he brought our country onto the international stage of surfing," said Pablo, honouring his team mate, the former world junior champion, who was eliminated from this event by Germany's Marlon Lipke in the quarter-finals.
"I came here wanting to be the Billabong World Junior Champion, and I happy that I have done my job well. Brasil has many good surfers that could be here. Brazil is getting stronger all the time!"
Punctuating today's schedule, the Panasonic Expression Session was held between the semi-finals and final, a dozen surfers including crew from Brazil, America and Europe mixing it with legendary Australian performers Luke Egan, Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew and Tom Carroll. Brazilian Jean da Silva won the session and took home a new Panasonic 3CCD mini-DV video camera.
Besides exposing and promoting an incredibly diverse array of surfing talent this past week, the Billabong World Junior Championships have truly shown that the standard of surfing has improved beyond comprehension right across the seven ASP regions in the past 12 months.
The seeming tradition of dominance by Pacific nations looks to be a fading fact. The continuing development of surfing standards and professionalism from countries throughout the South Americas, Europe, Africa and Asia augurs well for the future of the sport and culture, a phenomena Billabong is proud to contribute to.
The Billabong World Junior Championships were supported by Panasonic, Vodafone, Coke, Garnier, Banana Boat, Von Zipper and Surfing Australia.
Tune in the www.billabongpro.com for all the live action available via Webcast.
(1st advances second places equal third)
(Third place usd$2700)
- SF1 Pablo Paulino 15.34 def Marlon Lipke 6.77
- SF2 Dustin Cuizon 11.83 def Shaun Payne 9.37
(!st place usd$6000/ 2nd place usd$3200)
- 1st Pablo Paulino 17.33
- 2nd Dustin Cuizon 11.17