AUSTRALIA'S richest domestic junior surfing event exploded to life at North Stradbroke Island today, with round one of the prestigious Oakley Pro Junior being run in punchy 3-4ft (1-1.5m) beach break waves.
After the completion of the opening stop of the 2009 ASP Australasian Pro Junior Series at Burleigh Heads last month, the world's best teenagers continued to up the ante in the 5-star rated, $30,000 tournament, shredding the Main Beach line-up to pieces in the race for all-important round two berths.
Narrabeen ace David Vlug (NSW) set the benchmark for the day, barrelling his way through to round two contention with the morning's top individual wave score.
Vlug, who lacerated his kidney while surfing his home break of North Narrabeen in December, left nothing to chance in the sudden-death heat, weaving through the belly of a sucky Main Beach barrel to power to victory on the back of a near-perfect 9.00 on his opening wave.
The exciting goofy foot showed no signs of the serious injury, finishing with a 14.75 two-wave combined total to defeat North Stradbroke's Kurt Phillips, Collaroy's Robbie France and Stonyfell's Brett Edwards.
Post heat, Vlug said he was pleased to score some barrels in his opening heat.
"I guess I was in the right spot at the right time," said Vlug.
"Conditions were a little hard to read, so you really had to pick the ones that would tube. Luckily, I jagged that bomb in the opening minutes and it setup a good win."
Frenchman Marc Lacomare (Hossegor) was equally impressive in the barrelling left-handers, posting a 14.75 total to storm through to round two.
Lacomare, a semi-finalist at the world juniors at Narrabeen in January, got busy in the reeling conditions, laying down some serious moves to outgun Max Ayshford (Matraville), Ash McDonald (North Stradbroke Island) and Troy Skillin (Gorokan).
An excited Lacomare said he was stoked to be at Straddie for the second stop of the Australasian junior series.
"The waves have been pumpin'," said 19-year-old Lacomare.
"It's my first time here and the waves have been going off all week. I can't believe I haven't come here earlier."
Lacomare has been in Australia since January competing at the world juniors, along with the opening two events of this year's junior series and will use the experience to springboard his 2009 European pro junior campaign.
Emerging Tweed Heads surfer Ben Webb was the day's biggest surprise packet, taking down renowned Hawaiian charger Kiron Jabour to advance through to round two.
The lanky natural foot jagged the best waves of their 20-minute heat, nailing a 7.50 and a backup of 4.35 to overpower Jabour, as well as Elliott Marshall (Milton) and Dale Stewart (NSW).
Gold Coast up and comer Jack Freestone (Coolangatta) also hit his straps in round one, trumping local lad Murray Antioneff to book a spot in round two.
Competition is expected to continue tomorrow with top seeds hitting the water in round two heats.
The Oakley Pro Junior is the second stop of the 2009 ASP Australasian Pro Junior Series and offers a five-day surfing window, from Tuesday 3rd February to Saturday 7th February, 2009.
The 2009 Oakley Pro Junior is proudly supported by Stradbroke Island Holidays, Stradbroke Ferries, Redland City Council, Waves Magazine, ASP Australasia and Surfing Queensland.