THE recent regional finals of the Australian Boardriders titles at Stanwell Park highlighted the incredible strength of local club Werri Beach Boardriders and the club is determined to cut down some tall poppies at this weekend's national finals at Cronulla.
The Werri team featured two 14-year-olds, Angus Farrell and Kiara Arthur, along with Dean Bowen, WCT contender Tyler Wright, Jordie Watson, Matt Gale and Regan Barnes. Along the way they showed enormous character to make their way through to the decider.
"Each team has to have two juniors [under 18s], one over-35 and four opens, one of which must be a female, and considering the fact that both Angus and Kiara were facing kids, some of whom were four years older than them, it was a fantastic effort," Dean Bowen said.
"I have never seen anyone more nervous than Kiara before her first heat, she was literally shaking, but both she and Angus did fabulously and played an integral part in our overall win."
But Bowen, himself a former world junior champion, said the two-day finals at Cronulla on the Australia Day weekend (January 25 and 26) would be a different experience.
"There is around $105,000 on offer all up, with $20,000 to the winning club, and some of the talent on display is really world class," he said.
"Snapper Rocks will have Joel Parkinson, Steph Gilmore and Josh Kerr, Kirra will have Mick Fanning, while Cronulla boast Mark Occhilupo and our own Sally Fitzgibbons. There's no lack of class, but the Werri guys and girls aren't particularly worried by reputation - we are just out there to have a go and enjoy ourselves."
Young Angus said he was thrilled with being a part of the Werri side.
"I have been in the water since I was about three and surfing since I was nine," he said. "I have to thank Dean for his encouragement and coaching - I have learned heaps."
Bowen said he enjoyed being team leader, along with long-time Werri Boardriders legend David Hunt who does most of the out of the water leg work. Despite being only 22, he has also taken on a mentor role to some of the younger members of the team.
"You could probably say I have tried to pick up from where Todd Prestage [former WCT surfer] left off before he moved to America.
"He was the person most responsible for me reaching the stage I have and I hope I can help some of the Werri kids do the same."
He said while WCT surfers are taking part in this event, they will be banned from the upcoming Jim Beam Club titles on Sydney's northern beaches.
"This will be a big one for us and even though Tyler won't be there for us, neither will be the big stars for the other clubs," he said.