SURFING: Hometown favourite Reef Heazlewood all but confirmed his status as the country's top young board rider on Sunday, living up to expectations at the Sunshine Coast's first Pro Junior event in a decade.
The teenager produced a composed showing at Coolum Beach to capture the event's 18-and-under boys title.
He defeated Sandon Whittaker 16.30 to 15.75 to consolidate top spot in the Australasian Pro Junior standings.
The Moffat Beach youngster could have have been excused for letting the event get to him.
He went into it as the series leader, as the top seed and as the main local hope.
And given the region has endured a long wait for a World Surf League event, there was additional reason to feel burdened by expectation.
But he handled it with relative ease.
"I'm fairly good with pressure," he said.
"I've got some good techniques I use. I just let the nervous energy out doing some warm-ups."
His poise was particularly evident in the decider.
"Sandon had me against a wall at the start because my game plan was to be patient and wait for the best waves but he wanted to get busy and get scores under his belt so it was two different strategies," he said.
Whittaker got points on the board while Heazlewood was left waiting for waves.
"I had to be patient and hold myself up and not let the pressure get to me," he said.
"I was able to do that and the wave came."
He latched on to one and claimed a bumper 9.80 point score, which ultimately sealed victory.
"That was a pretty gnarly moment. I was able to keep calm and do what I wanted," he said.
Heazlewood said he had been targeting the event since it was added to the schedule.
"I was really hoping to get the win here at home and I was stoked to do that."
"To be able to surf waves I surf quite a bit and to have the comfortableness of being at home was great."
Meanwhile, Coolangatta's Kobie Enright won the 18-and-under girls division, edging last year's junior world champion Macy Callaghan in the quarter finals and toppling another New South Wales surfer, Sophie Fulton, in the final 14.55 to 8.95.
"I'm pretty stoked, this is the first final I've made at a Pro Junior this year," she said.
It was event six of the seven-event Subway Surf Series and event seven of the eight-event WSL Australia/Oceania Junior Qualifying Series.
The final event is in Queensland.
"The Gold Coast is home for me so I'm really looking forward to the last event of the series in two weeks," Enright said.
And Heazlewood said he will take a relaxed approach to the last stop given his strong position in the standings.
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