TWEED Heads surfer Dale Richards has nabbed Most Promising New Talent at the Deadly Awards.
The awards, held at the Sydney Opera House last week, honour indigenous and Torres Strait Islander music, sport, entertainment, the arts and community achievements.
Earlier this year Richards was selected to compete in the trials for the Quiksilver Pro on the Gold Coast the opening event on the 2007 ASP Men's World Tour.
He went on to beat 15 more experienced surfers to earn himself a wild card entry into the main event. In doing so, Richards became the first-ever indigenous surfer to advance to the main round of the elite world tour event.
Joining the world's top 45 professional surfers in the tournament, Richards drew three time world champions Andy Irons (Haw) in his first heat and, after beating him, squared off against one of his idols eight time world champion Kelly Slater in the next.
While he didn't progress beyond the second round with Slater, the tournament still marked an unbelievable achievement for the 18-year-old.
``It is an honour to be nominated and to win is special there aren't a lot of indigenous surfers out there," said Richards, who received a huge round of applause from the thousands of invited guests as he accepted his award.
Growing up 10 minutes from the beach at Tweed Heads, it wasn't long before Richards began surfing.
After taking up the sport at age 11, Richards was soon entering and winning a swathe of local junior surfing competitions, squeezing in training and practice in the surf at every opportunity between school.
By the age of 16 Richards boasted a bevy of sponsors, including surfwear label Quiksilver.
After establishing himself as one of the stars of the pro-juniors and being widely recognised as one of the top young surfing talents in the country, Richards had been building towards a breakthrough performance for some time and it was his 2007 performance against the world's surfing elite that saw him honoured at the 12th annual Deadlys.