STUART KENNEDY
STUART KENNEDY

Kennedy lines up Fanning

MAKING your debut in any high quality sporting event is daunting enough.

But what happens when your debut pits you against the best in the world?

This is the situation facing Lennox Head's Stuart Kennedy who will surf in his first World Championship Tour event, the Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach, Victoria, that starts today against reigning world champion Mick Fanning.

The 18-year-old has also drawn Adrian Buchan in the first round.

While many would be daunted about taking on the world champion, Kennedy can't wait for the opportunity at one of his favourite breaks.

"Mick is my favourite surfer," Kennedy told The Northern Star from Bells.

"I've surfed in his brother's memorial comp so I know him from that.

"He's a real good bloke but I'm just going out to surf the best I can.

"It hasn't really hit me yet. I'm trying not to get too excited.

"I just want to put on a good show and surf against the big guys and hopefully I'll get to surf there (the WCT) permanently one day.

Kennedy was elevated into the Bells event after he won a sponsors exemption surf-off against Rip Curl team-mates Owen Wright and Matt Wilkinson.

Far North Coast surfers would recognise Wright's name from his unprecedented success at the Lennox Gromfest over the years.

The Culbarra surfer has had the wood on Kennedy for the past few competitions, but the Lennox local turned the tables yesterday morning and then fronted a media conference with Fanning by his side.

Good news In between this he managed to ring his mother Vicki so she could let friends and family know the good news.

Kennedy is confident of a good showing at Bells after he won a Pro-Junior competition there earlier this year.

"The Pro-Junior was held in six foot swell and I just loved it," the natural-footer said.

"The word on the street is that there should be four foot tomorrow (today)."

Byron Bay surfers Keiren Perrow and Danny Wills will also compete.

Wills has drawn Americans CJ Hobgood and Dane Reynolds, while Perrow is up against Damien Hobgood, of the US, and Brazilian Heitor Alves.

The iconic event culminates in the champion ringing the bell.



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