SINCE moving from the NSW north coast to Merewether in 2012, pint-sized dynamo Morgan Cibilic has beaten some of the region’s best surfers.
From edging out world qualifying series surfer Jesse Adam to helping a junior team topple his Merewether Surfboard Club’s best line-up, 15-year-old Cibilic has already overcome many challenges and made a big impression on the area’s surfing scene.
But the Lambton High School year 9 student will face his biggest test next week when he takes on the nation’s best under-16 boardriders at the Australian junior titles in Yallingup, Western Australia.
‘‘It’s going to be really good, especially because the waves over in WA are a lot more challenging,’’ Cibilic said.
‘‘When I moved from Angourie to Merewether, the waves were more challenging for me, and going over to WA, it will be another challenge, but it will be fun.’’
Cibilic qualified for nationals with a third at the NSW titles in July, and after narrowly missing Australian championship qualification two years ago with a semi-final effort at state, he is keen to make the most of his chance.
Since moving to Newcastle 2 years ago Cibilic has quickly become a rising star of the talent-laden Merewether Surfboard Club, which boasts the likes of Craig Anderson, Ryan Callinan, Jackson Baker, Jake Sylvester, Matt Hoy and Luke Egan.
He said mixing with the Merewether stars and training under Dan Frodsham in the club’s development program had helped take his surfing to a new level.
‘‘There’s a lot more really good older surfers here and it helps me improve,’’ he said.
‘‘I see them do a trick, and I think ‘wow’, then ask them how they did it and they give me tips.
‘‘I had an air camp with Craig Anderson a while ago, which was great.
‘‘Then recently I had to find fins for a new board, and Ryan Callinan helped me find some that he thought would help me the best, so that was really helpful.’’
Cibilic will also take confidence from his efforts against the senior Merewether men, especially over the last three years of the annual Ray Richards Memorial Man-on-Man contest.
‘‘When we first moved here, I had a really good heat against Jesse Adam and beat him,’’ he said.
‘‘Then the next year, I beat his brother Marc.
‘‘This year I versed their dad Mick, and won again,’’ he laughed.
‘‘But they are all really helpful out in the surf and Marc does my board designs.
‘‘He’s been really helpful too, trying to get me to do some heaps progressive manoeuvres.’’
Cibilic also combined with fellow juniors Zane Clifford and Louis Stackhouse in the Surfest Tag Team challenge at Stockton this year to defeat Sylvester, Callinan and Baker en route to a second-place finish.
‘‘The older guys at Merewether put us in for a bit of experience but we ended up doing better than the main team,’’ he said.
‘‘It was a big surprise for us and lifted our confidence a lot.’’
Beyond the national titles, Cibilic dreams of making the world tour or becoming a free surfing star like Anderson.