AN UNFORTUNATE MIGRATION
Forecasts can never be truly trusted. Despite the charts looking positive, a shift in swell to the south saw a corrugated horizons but little materialising on the shores of Laguna Bay.
Making up for the lost time of yesterday afternoon, heats were run simultaneously.
The Kennards Men’s 50 & Over and Old Guys Rule Men’s 60 & Over were the first to paddle into the beach breaks – clean, but certainly not ideal for longboarding. Nonetheless, the older gents were having plenty of fun and sporadic opportunities were more than enough for scoring opportunities.
Our solitary Brazilian competitor surfed sensationally in the 50 & Over to win his heat, joining regular festival faces, George Haskas and Matt Fleming, in Saturday’s final. Uncharacteristically, Eric Walker failed to make direct entry into the final, relegated to the reperchage, but made up for it, wining his heat solidly, the remaining competitors having to vie for the two remaining slots. Albe Curtis and Guy Johnson made the grade, and the final was set.
The Women’s and Men’s Open divisions, presented by Indulge and Laguna Real Estate respectively, were an interesting split between high performance and traditional-style equipment. There was a distinct lean towards the latter for the girls, but heat winner and finalist Kirra Seale, who is used to riding a diversity of equipment, combined the two aspects for a confident and dynamic win.
On the other side of the gender coin, it appeared at first that performance would win out, with Nic Jones blitzing his heat, combining fast turns and more shortboard-oriented moves with solid noserides for a heat one win. But other heats proved that, while the waves weren’t necessarily ideal for logs, the talent in the water could be equally, if not more proficient on the heavier boards.
Sean Kenny, Jason Caldow and Hudson Ritchie claimed their heats, second and third placer-getters also joining them in what will be an international affair in the semis.
The Golden Breed Noserider Pro whittled 24 surfers down to just four today, the second round proving incredibly challenging in the now small and crumbling waves. Only 11 seconds split the field less than six being the qualifying bracket for the eight surfers to make the semis. Clinton Guest was brilliant to post the round’s highest score, a 18.19, a very strong heat also from Justin Healey and Kaimana Takayama, while defending champ, Bowie Pollard scraped through by less than half a second. The heat is arrange as such that it is not the heat winners who go through, but the highest scorers of the whole round, so with Clinton Guest again on form to progress, the bench mark was set extremely high.
Relishing the challenge, Kai Takayama proceeded to paddle out and wipe the previous best off the board, beating Clinton by almost ten seconds to advance to the finals where the pair will face off for the first time, joined by Justin Healey and Harley Ingleby
Finishing the day, in time though certainly not in excitement, the Gordon & Smith Switch Invitational lined up for a beach start. Each of the heat’s four competitors in this unique division had an identical pair of boards to ride, one a shortboard, one a longboard. Harley Ingleby opened the division in spectacular fashion. Starting on the shorter fish board, he posted some great scores, returning to the beach to exchange equipment. The former world champion then then posted a brilliant score on his more familiar choice of board, a long noseride coupled with superb turns and trim awarding him a score in the high eights. Time still left on the clock, he decided he could do better on the more diminutive craft, returning once more to the sand to extend his score, a 17.75 of a possible 20 his fantastic winning score in heat one.
Surfer-shaper, and another former world champ, Josh Constable showed consummate board knowledge, surfing both lengths comparably to Harley’s a meagre margin between the two, who will progress directly to the final alongside Lewie Dunn and Dane Wilson.
The Chaparral wakesurfing boats took to the water as the sun began to set, a selection of invitees zipping up and down the coast surfing the wake of these spectacular boats. Mostly akin to longboards, the dozen guests had a crash course from wakesurfing professional, Austin Keen.
Homolua Blomfield and Lewie Dunn surfed excellently, taking to the new discipline like ducks to salt water, as did Josh Constable and 11-yer-old Queensland state champ, Liliana Bowrey, finalists to be announced on Saturday.
With Tobias and Adam Harpaz playing out the night with a selection of mellow, singer-songwriter vibes, it was the perfect wa to end a long, hot and very tiring Day Six.