Garrett Parkes, fifth from left, and Ellis Ericson, fifth from right, with the rest of the Australian team.
Garrett Parkes, fifth from left, and Ellis Ericson, fifth from right, with the rest of the Australian team.

Australia?s finest


BYRON BAY's Garrett Parkes and Ellis Ericson have conquered the best junior surfers Australia has to offer; now they're off to take on the world.

The pair has been selected to represent Australia at the International Surfing Association's World Junior Surfing Championships and today they will fly to Portugal for the competition.

They will join 10 other Australian surfers who will be out to repeat the Australia team's victory at the titles in Brazil last year.

It will be Parkes' second stint in Australian colours after he competed last year, while it's Ericson's first time in the green and gold.

Team coach Sasha Stocker said he was expecting big things from the pair.

"I give them both a very good chance of winning," he said.

"They are part of one of the richest surfing talent pools in the world so for them to put themselves in front of all the other guys competing for spots on the team shows how much skill they have and hopefully they will peak at the right time."

The competition will be held at Costa de Caparica, a beach-break less than half-an-hour from Lisbon, Portugal's capital.

An excellent wave when it's working, Caparica provides steep and powerful sections which break left and right off the many jetties located all along the beach.

It's an ideal spot for all experience levels and Stoker said the all-round talents of Parkes and Ericson would equip them well.

"Garrett is certainly one of the most naturally talented surfers Australia has at the moment but he has to put that to good use and peak at the right time," Stoker said.

"Ellis is also a very talented surfer, but his strength is his consistency.

"Both are very good rail surfers and quite good at aerial surfing as well, so if they can put those two things together they'll be looking at some great scores."

The Australian team will go into the tournament the top seeds and also the favourites.

But with the competition lasting nine days and about 350 of the world's best young surfers from 30 countries competing, Stoker admits it won't be easy.

"We're usually the team people look towards so we have to deal with that pressure," he said.

"Hawaii and Brazil always expect big things from their surfers but the United States, South Africa and probably France will also be good."

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