ORGANISERS believe a future world champion hit the Kiama sand during the recent Australian Junior Surfing Titles.
A gripping week of competition wrapped up on Saturday, with 12 of the nation's best young stars taking home an Australian title and joining names like Mick Fanning, Tom Carroll and Stephanie Gilmore in the history books.
Surfing Australia's Steve Robertson was positive the next big name was among them.
"If you go back through the history you will find no shortage of world champions who have won at these titles," Robertson said.
More than 200 competitors hit the surf during the seven-day carnival in the Kiama area and Robertson was pleased with how the event turned out.
Of the local contingent, under-16s sensation Billy Melinz was the only surfer to make the final, finishing in second spot.
Melinz had been the form competitor heading into the final after posting a score of 14.33 in the semis, but wasn't able to match it with Western Australian visitor Emi Campbell (10.75) in a low-scoring decider.
"She was very unlucky; she is a great surfer," Robertson said.
"Mikey Wright (under- 18s) just had a bad semi too.
"Those two stand-out talents just came up short but they will bounce back, there is no doubt about that."
The last remaining Illawarra hope in the under-18s field, Wright fell in a high-quality semi-final.
NSW compatriot Fraser Dovell (12.15) eventually claimed the title, overcoming a challenge from Kelly Slater conqueror Jacob Wilcox (8.60), NSW State Champion Monty Tait and Queensland's Luke Hynd (both 9.75). In other results, Macy Callaghan (14.85) pipped NSW teammate Kirra Belle Olsson (14.50) to take out the under-14 girls, while Caleb Tancred (15.65) did likewise in the boys.