By Terry ‘Tappa’ Teece
Thirteen-year-old dynamo Zahli Kelly from Cabarita has well and truly announced herself to the Pro Junior scene with a bang, winning the nib Pro Junior Women’s title.
Kelly, who drew the WSL wildcard for the event, is racking up extensive kilometres on the stretch of Pacific Highway between Cabarita and Newcastle. In late January, she took out the Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota Wildcard Trials to claim a spot in the Anditi Women’s Pro that got underway at Merewether beach this week, where she’ll surf in the round of 48 and come up against elite tour world number five Johanne Defay.
Zahli also turned heads as part of the Cabarita team contesting the Australian Boardriders Battle at Newcastle beach. Caba did not make the top 4, but performed well against the best clubs in the nation.
Kelly, has also won the wildcard into this year’s Roxy Pro Trials after becoming the 2016 Queensland Junior champion last August at Duranbah, added to her impressive run of titles including the 2016 Queensland Open Championship and a second placing in the 2016 U/18 Australian Titles.
The distance education student, whose coach is former dual world junior champion James “Taipan” Wood, cites Brazilian Felipe Toledo as her favourite surfer.
“I feel a bit surprised. I can’t believe I won and thought I left my run a bit late in the final. I got my two best waves in the last eight minutes.
“I’m heaps happy to get the wildcard into the Anditi Womens Pro,” Kelly said.
And Kelly has 2000 reasons to be heaps happy. Because for the very first time in Australasian Pro Junior surfing, the prize money for the winner stumped up by event sponsor nib was the same for the junior women as it was for the junior men.
Snapper Rocks surfer Alyssa Lock also performed well picking up a 3rd place in the event.
Local SUP Surfers Take on Sunset Beach
Well while I was enjoying myself on the North Shore of Hawaii, they happened to be running the APP Tour event for Stand Up Paddle (SUP) riders at Sunset. It was a little hectic out there during the waiting period, but I did get a few out there and ran into some of our local SUP riders on the APP (SUP) World Tour.
Shakira Westdorp was performing well in the Women’s division, and Kingscliff surfer Justin Hollands still alive in the mens division. Justin was over there hanging with Surfing Australia Hall of Fame big wave rider Jamie Mitchell, Justin telling me he and Jamie we looking to head to Jaws on Maui to take on some big waves. Justin broke his leg last time he surfed the spot, but is keen to have a crack again and to do well at the Sunset Pro.
Competition is on hold today, expected to get underway at 5am NSW time on Friday. You can watch the event live via the APP Facebook page.