By IAN MONAGHAN
IT'S A long way from Lennox Head to Tahiti ? but James Wood is making the connection at the Quiksilver ISA World Junior Surfing Championships.
The Lennox Head 17-year-old is just one victory away from claiming a finals berth in the hotly-contested Under-18 division of the world titles at Papenoo Beach.
He will contest the semi-finals with two other Aussies, title-holder Ben Dunn and Michael Spencer, and Brazil's William Cardosoc.
Meanwhile, eight surfers are still in contention for world titles in the Under-18 girls division, including three Australians Stephanie Gil-more, Jessi Miley-Dyer and Nicola Atherton, Americans Karina Petroni and Erica Hosseini, South African Tammy Lee Smith, 12-year-old Hawaiian Carissa Moore and 14-year-old Brazilian Diana Souza.
Kingscliff's Gilmore and Sydney's Miley-Dyer have been regular competitors and winners at The Northern Star-sponsored Rusty Gromfest and the annual All Girls Showdown.
Papenoo, the venue for the junior world titles, is a far cry from the body-crunching Teahupoo reef, which commands plenty of media attention every time WCT events are staged there.
Papenoo offers small peaks at the entrance to a river.