Reef's set to give the world surf scene a shake
SURFING: Inspired by a fellow Sunshine Coast teenager, Moffat Beach's Reef Heazlewood says he's got the moves to claim the junior world title.
Coolum Beach's Isabella Nichols won the girls crown last year to enhance the region's reputation as a surfing stronghold.
Now, Heazlewood is intent on following in her foot steps.
"I feel like I can win it,” he said.
"I'm pretty confident and pretty consistent with my surfing right now and I feel like I've got a lot of flair and speed that the judges will hopefully really like.”
Heazlewood will contest his first World Surf League World Junior Championship (under-18s), at Kiama from Wednesday, after finishing in the top-four of the Australasian Pro Junior circuit.
"I felt pretty good with it (that campaign). There was a couple of mistakes I made in each event but I've really worked hard to iron them out,” he said.
Heazlewood burst on to the scene in 2015, with a runner-up result at the International Surfing Association World Junior Championship (under-16s).
He was also a semi-finalist in the under-18 section last year, despite being sick for most of the event.
And the Mark Richardson-coached charge has gained plenty of experience in several Qualifying Series events amid open company, winning nine heats including at a 6000-point event in Portugal. "To go out there and get a couple of scalps has been good,” he said.
"I've done the QS quite a bit and am building for the next couple of years so I can try...to make the (world Championship) Tour after that.”
And he's bolstered by Nichols' junior world title conquest last year, when she proved Sunshine Coast junior surfers are juggernauts on the global stage.
"It's cool to see she won it last year and I've been working towards it for this year,” he said.
"I do a bit of physical training with her with (her coach) Tim Just.”
The two are friends "who joke around”.
But she hasn't provided him with too much advice for this week's event.
"She kinds of just lets me figure it out,” he said.
Australians are expected to feature prominently at the 11-day championship.
Fellow Queensland sensation Ethan Ewing had an incredible 2016.
He dominated the Australasian junior scene and was second on the global Qualifying Series, which secured him a berth on the sport's biggest stage, the Championship Tour.
"I do feel a bit of pressure coming into this event,” Ewing said.
"It is...probably the most important event of my career.”