Meet our new world champion
By ADRIAN MILLER
SPARE a thought for Garrett Parkes' family and next-door neighbours in Byron Bay.
As Garrett surfed his way to a World Championship in Portugal overnight, his supporters were crowded around a computer screen late into the night.
They watched him win the Under-16s division at the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships at Coast de Caparica to become the latest Australian surfing world champion.
"It was pretty nerve-wracking," Garrett's father David said. "You can't really do much to help apart from talking to him on the phone, but he had good support over there and we knew he was in good hands.
"We're really happy for him. It's been a goal of his to do well."
Garrett, 15, dominated the four-man final, which included fellow Aussie Davey Cathels, scoring a two-wave total of 17.56 (out of a possible 20), which included the highest single wave score of all the finalists (9.60), to claim his maiden individual world title.
David said Garrett was overwhelmed with his victory, which will help raise the profile of the burgeoning professional surfer.
"To win a world title is great," David said. "We managed to speak to him while he was being chaired up the beach. "He was still in a little bit of disbelief that he pulled it out and it hadn't sunk in yet. He was just so happy to achieve his goal. Having the world title next to his name will definitely raise his profile internationally, as well as in Australia."
The day was a double celebration for Garrett as Team Australia., which included fellow Byron surfer Ellis Ericson, won its second consecutive Team World Championship, after taking the title in Brazil last year.
The team will return to Australia tomorrow and while Garrett could well still be up in the clouds, he'll have to come down to earth fairly quickly.
"He's doing his School Certificate at Byron Bay High School this year and he's got exams next week," David said.