2008 Billabong World Juniors: Day 1

SURF: 4-5 feet and windy
EVENTS HELD: Men's and Women's Round 1
NATURE'S CALL: Getting bigger on the weekend
PREDICTED: We now got Aussie Mens and Womens world champs, why not a Junior?

Billabong World Juniors. 2008. North Narrabeen, Sydney, Australia. This is the NFL draft. Mel Kiper isn't here, but all of his talent scout equivalents in the surfing world have made the scene in droves to see the best juniors in the world show what they got. The winner's prize? A golden ticket straight to the to the round of 96 in all of the WQS 6*s. Jordy Smith won last year and ran launched straight from the podium here to the top of the QS, a spot on the 'CT and a reported 7 figure sponsorship deal. If that wasn't enough at stake for a group of 20 and under kids to handle, for the Aussie contingent the pressure is even stronger. No one from Down Under has won this thing since Joel Parkinson in 2001.

One young 'stralian who looks ready to take on the world is Julian Wilson. He suffered a controversial defeat in the quarterfinals here last year and was on fire today in chunky overhead Narrabeen lefts. Undoubtedly one of the world's best freesurfers, Wilson showed he's got a whip smart comp game to go along with his high flying act. "You've just got to do what you've got to do to get through heats, not go out there and show everyone on the beach how good you can surf," he said.

Another top Aussie, Owen Wright, who had to win the trials in order to get a spot in the main event because the local talent pool is so deep, also looked impressive in taking down Oxnard's Nick Rosza and world junior vet and former champ, Adriano De Souza. Both Rosza and De Souza ripped, but the string bean goofy footer Wright stole the show with a full bag of vert snaps and airs. That fact that De Souza, entering into his 3rd full year on the CT', is even here is a testament to the prestige of this event. "I really like surfing against the best surfers of my generation and that's why I like this contest," he said.

As for the Hawaiians and Californians in attendance, Tonino Benson, Tanner Gudauskas, Mason Ho, Chris Waring and Granger Larson all posted heat wins to go directly to Round 3 (this contest uses the same format as a WCT). One top prospect who didn't fare as well was Maui's Dusty Payne. Already sidelined earlier in 07 when he contracted type 1 diabetes, Dusty blew out his knee and in a full tilt warm up session and flew straight home. Let's hope he heals up soon.

As for the rest of the groms, they're about to get blasted by another round of double overhead surf from a hybrid low to the northeast that just won't quit. Who ever said Sydney in the summer was flat? Book your plane tickets now, it's warm, sunny, there's 15 hours in the day and it's f**king pumping.

For more on the Billabong World Junior Championships, visit BillabongPro.com