Tuesday, July 13, 2010


While most of us were preparing for the onset of Monday-itis last night, Chris Friend was drinking champagne at a Gold Coast Sheraton without a care in the world.
The Twin Waters surfer landed the biggest payday of his career by winning the Mick Fanning Red Bull Junior Surf Masters at Broadbeach, taking home the $A10,000 first prize cheque.
Friend won a nail-biting final against Matt Banting after his two-wave score of 14.60 edged out the Port Macquarie youngster's tally (14.50) by just 0.10 points.
The 19-year-old began the decider well with a 7.5 wave almost immediately after the final began, but an 8.5-point ride from his opponent put Banting in front with just eight minutes left.
However, Friend found a wave at the same time and scored highly enough to hold off Banting's challenge.
Friend would have been holding his breath when the judges were deliberating their scores, after he was denied a $25,000 winners cheque at January's Hurley Burleigh Pro, where he lost a tight final to New South Welshman Dean Bowen.
“I'm going to do a bit of celebrating tonight at the Sheraton, open a couple of bottles of champagne and enjoy it,” Friend said last night.
“I had that expensive loss at the start of the year so that was in the back of my mind.
“It's my last year as a junior and I really wanted to win this event.
“It's great that Mick has put on this invitational event.”
The 20-surfer field was made up of 12 wildcards hand-picked by Fanning, including Friend, with eight more earning their spots in a qualifying contest on Friday.
Friend's previous biggest winner's cheque came earlier this year when he banked $5000 for his victory in February's Couran Cove Pro at South Stradbroke Island.
He had recently returned from a strong showing at a six-star World Qualifying Series event in Sri Lanka, where he was narrowly beaten in the round of 16.