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Monday, March 16, 2009
Updated: June 15, 1:35 PM ET
Hawaiian Larsen Takes Oz Victory


Big news from down in Australia is that Hawaii's Granger Larsenn just won the Grade-1 Arnette Pro Junior in Newcastle. Larson earned $3,000 for his efforts in his first Junior Pro victory since 2005.

"It's been awhile between wins and this is great. It's really terrific to get a win against this level of competition," Larsen said.

Granger Larson boosting above some tough Aussie competition.

Of course this is significant for the former NSSA Explorer and Junior Men's Champ and Honolua Bay local. It's always a big step for an American, even a Hawaiian, to go over to Australia and win a junior event. The Aussies have all sorts of boardriders clubs and start training groms for competition before they can eat solid foods.

But the story behind the story here is that Owen Wright didn't win the event. Larsen edged out Ty Watson (a plumber's apprentice) with a 9-point wave in the final where he landed a frontside punt. But Wright's name wasn't in the semifinals or any round leading up to it. Wright is nursing a bum wheel. Apparently, after 3,830 landed airs in 2008, he blew the landing on one and injured his ankle. It's still nagging at him.

Last month, I mentioned that Wright had won two events in a row. But since then, the kid also notched the Billabong Pro Junior at Coff's Harbor. He actually won at Newcastle last year, but the ailing ankle bought an end to his run.

ASP Junior Pro points can't help you qualify, but ask any young surfer how important they are, for getting on the radar of the surf world, and he will tell you, "heaps," or something similar.

The Ezekiel Pro Junior, part of the Van's Pier Classic starts on March 25th, at Huntington.

So, are the Americans falling way behind? Not exactly. The way it works with the juniors is that while the Aussies usually dominate the ASP Australia events, Americans usually grab the ASP North America titles, the Euros win the ASP Europe contests and so forth. They run a string of Aussie events at the start of the year, during the months that the Dream Tour and 'QS are in Oz. You don't have many Seppos in the Aussie Junior events (hence Larsen's victory is a big deal.)

We haven't started our Junior tour yet. The domestic junior circuit kicks off next week with the Ezekiel Pro Junior,in conjunction with the Vans Pier Classic presented by Jack's Surfboards. Then there's the Oakly Pro Junior at Trestles in late April. The best surfers in each region are vying for a shot at the Billabong World Junior Championships next January.