AUSTRALIA’S SAM WRENCH CROWNED OAKLEY PRO JUNIOR GLOBAL CHALLENGE CHAMPION
Sam Wrench today won the prestigious Oakley Pro Junior Global Challenge 2009 final in excellent surf to 5 feet at Keramas River-mouth in Bali defeating French surfer Marc Lacomare.
The 19 year-old from Ulladulla on the south coast of NSW was overjoyed with the win, defeating an elite field of 18 of the world’s best 20 year and under Pro Junior surfers.
“It’s the first and obviously the biggest win of my professional career and it couldn’t have come at a better time” said Wrench after the win. “I lost my major sponsor at the start of the season and competing has been hard but this win helps in a big way and hopefully proves that I’m well worth sponsoring – the field here was so strong and we have surfed perfect waves all week and it’s amazing to win an event like this – it’s one of the best events in the world for any pro junior surfer.”
Wrench trailed for most of the final after Lacomare opened with a very strong 7 point ride.
It was during the final 10 minutes of the final when Wrench found two clean deep rides and used his proven strategy of scoring long barrel rides that he took the lead and eventually the win.
“It’s such an amazing wave, you can score big in lots of ways, either tube riding, on-face or even aerials and I found getting the longer tube rides suited me and it worked for me today” said Wrench.
For Lacomare it was his second 2nd placing at this event and despite being disappointed was gracious in defeat.
“I would have liked to have won this year but unfortunately I’m second again – the contest is so good and the field so strong, we have enjoyed an incredible week of surfing against each other and well done to Sam.”
An inspiring performance was also put on by Hawaii’s Kai Barger today.
Barger suffered a knee injury sustained free surfing two days ago and this morning hobbled to the water’s edge fully braced around his knee to surf his semi-final.
Early in the semi-final he could barely turn on two extremely low scoring rides and most wondered why he even bothered to paddle out.
Half way through the semi on a good clean medium sized wave, Barger pushed his performance hard, clearly uncomfortable but still showing signs of his renown power and he scored a very worthy 6 point ride putting him in contention.
His following ride was simply amazing, taking one of the largest set waves, Barger unleashed a massive opening bottom-to-top turn and followed up with three more powerful controlled turns, scoring an excellent 8.5 and looked set to take an incredible semi win.
Barger’s injury clearly made it very tough for him in the final 5 minutes and a priority mistake saw Wrench claim the semi final but Barger’s remarkable performance was applauded by all at the event as limped from the water.
With an iced bracing around his knee after the event Barger spoke of the semi-final performance saying “It was good to get through it and get an excellent score but I feel disappointed now as it was also a missed opportunity, I was so close and it’s frustrating for me right now.”
“The knee was painful throughout each turn and it’s difficult to surf fully braced.”
Sam Wrench won $US20 000 for today’s win, the highest prize purse in Global Pro Junior professional surfing and he joins last year’s inaugural winner Dusty Payne (Hawaii) on the winners list of the Oakley Pro Junior Global Surf Challenge.
The quality of this event was highlighted by the daily scheduling of heats.
With plenty of excellent surf in prime time at an A grade surf location heats were surfed per day in the following way, 3, 3, 5, 4, 3, 0, 3 and 2– a scheduling unlikely to be matched!
Semi 1: Sam Wrench 14.85 V Kai Barger 14.50
Semi 2: Marc Lacomare (FRA) 15.50, Alejo Muniz (BRA) 10.66
Final: Sam Wrench (AUS) 14.40 V Marc Lacomare (FRA) 13.65