Zac Fries high as Taj watches on

DIFFICULT conditions did not faze Skennars Head surfer Zac Wightman when he took out the Under-14 boys final during the Billabong Taj's Small Fries event at Yallingup, Western Australia, on Sunday.

The 13-year-old recorded a score of 14.50 points in the final, overseen by fourth-ranked ASP star Taj Burrow, comfortably prevailing over Shaun Manners (Margaret River, WA), who registered 11.90 points.

Zac got off to a flying start in his heats before conditions became more of a challenge in the finals.

"I had a lot of fun on Saturday and got scores of eight and nine in my first heats," he said.

"Then on Sunday there was a lot of swell and wind which made it hard to get waves.

"A few sets came in and that made things a bit edgy but I enjoy those challenges because then you see who's really up for it and who can handle it."

Zac was surprised to win his final by 2.60 points.

"Everyone told me it looked close but when I found out I had a bit of a gap I felt heaps better," he said.

The student from Xavier Catholic College at Skennars Head was the Hurley NSW junior champion last July at Under-14 level at Forster but rates his win in WA as a highlight of his blossoming career.

"It's one of the best events I've done," he said.

"Having Taj present the winner's prize to me gave me so much more joy because he's one of my heroes.

"My dad Geoff is a keen surfer, we've been on a lot of trips together and he was so happy to find out I'd won when I rang him.

"He's working up in the mines in Mackay so he didn't know."

Watching all the best professional surfers last February and March at the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast fuelled Zac's passion to rub shoulders with the best one day.

"I want to make it to the top where Kelly Slater is," he said.

"He's just as good a surfer as the rest but he's won 11 world titles so he's smarter.

"Owen Wright (ASP fifth-ranked surfer from Lennox Head) is also a goofy-foot surfer like me."

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