YOUNG gun Jackson Baker saved his best for last on his home break to power into the round of 64 on day one of the Surfest Pro Junior at Merewether yesterday.
The 16-year-old started in round two, the round of 96, in the 20-years-and-under competition and kicked off his heat with a seven-point ride to lead.
But he struggled through the middle of the heat, holding a 0.5 edge in the battle for second place after a 4.9 effort.
With 90 seconds remaining, Baker earned 7.75 points for his last ride for a 14.75 total and the heat win.
Yamba’s Jeames Young was second with 12.15 to also progress to the round of 64.
Last year, Baker started in the round of 64 after winning the trials event, but he was in Hawaii this time and missed the contest.
He hoped the earlier start would give him an edge when he meets some of the leading surfers today.
‘‘It’s good to start in that round and get a couple of heats under your belt,’’ Baker said.
‘‘Most of the guys in the next round haven’t had any competitive heats, so hopefully that helps me.’’
Hunter surfers Jack Scollard, James McMorland, Kurtis Herman and Jake Sylvester start their campaigns today.
Baker, though, will first tackle day one of the 16-years-and-under Cadet Cup this morning at South Bar Beach.
American Kanoa Igarashi was among the standouts in the rounds of 112 and 96 yesterday, winning his heats with combined scores of 16.75 and 14.25.
Mitch Parkinson, the cousin of world champion and Surfest Men’s Pro top seed Joel Parkinson, shook off injury to progress yesterday, scoring 13.25 to finish second in his heat.
‘‘I had no expectations out there because I’ve got an ankle ligament injury,’’ Parkinson said.
‘‘This is only my third surf back and I was so pumped to get a couple of good scores. I can’t believe I got an eight.’’
Only one heat of the women’s pro junior was held yesterday.