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AND STILL THE SWELL CONTINUES

On what was predicted to be one of the smallest days of swell this week, First Point lit up all day long.

The Noosa Civic Family Challenge was first to take to the water and local young stand-out Liliana Bowrey was one of the round’s most outstanding performers. At only 11 years old, she was also the youngest, but the current Queensland champion wasn’t deterred by a number and surfed superbly alongside her dad, Jake.

The Norton father-son duo, defending division champions, excelled once more, easily winning their heat.

As Noosa Beach Yoga hosted their daily yoga session, the Teams Challenge got underway. Always a dynamic division, the contest is a tag-team event, each of the four team riders taking turns to ride just two waves before returning to the beach to tag their team mate. Fast and furious, the Ray White Noosa team just made it back to the beach after a collection of excellent waves to avoid the 5-point penalty for not making it home.

The Deus Bali team, lead by Harrison Roach and Zye Norris also scored high to progress, as did the California-Hawaii contingent of the perplexingly-named Plate Lunch Special.

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The final heat of the Garage Handplanes Body Bash followed and Jacob Marr once again impressed, connecting with the waves for incredibly long rides despite the sectioning waves.

Likewise, though more used to his home waves of 20-feet-plus at California’s Newport Wedge, Tim Burnham managed to trim his way through the clean waves almost to the beach, over 50 metres from his take-off spot out at First Point. The pair progressed to the afternoon’s final.

The junior boys showed that longboarding has a very bright future in the Surf Lifesaving Sunscreen Boys 15 & Under. Gus O’Malley, a strong competitor last year, proved that 12 months can make significant changes, taking an absolutely blistering heat win to advance to Saturday’s semi-finals. Zac Walker was also a stand-out, and guest commentator and a man who knows the longboarding world past and present better than most, Matt Chojnacki could not praise the juniors highly enough for their skills, competence and gentlemanly traits in the surf.

The Body Bash semis were fiercely contested, former world and defending Noosa champion Tom Marr having to accept second to his younger brother, Jacob, while Tim Burnham was again exceptional. The trio would be joined by Liam Short, Kaneali’i Wilcox and Russell Pollard in the afternoon’s final.

The Aussie Soles SUP Battle of the Paddle was a combination of expert orchestration, profound talent and fitness and organised chaos! The highly popular division took to the water in a flurry of action, paddlers taking off around the ocean course, interspersed with beach runs so strenuous it was exhausting even for the spectators. Hotly pursued but not relinquishing his tenuous lead, Lincoln Dews once more claimed the win. The talented Sunshine-Coaster has rapidly transformed from outstanding junior to incredible ironman, internationally considered as one of the very best.

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The heavens erupted at the commencement of the second round of the Teams Challenge, ominous rumbles of thunder echoing off the distant hills, but thankfully it was a spontaneous deluge and swiftly passed. The Hawaiian Margaritaville team was superb, as were the internationalists of the Ray White Noosa team.

Thomas Bexon of the Thomas Surfboards team decided to mix thing up a little, taking off on the same wave as Deus Bali’s Zye Norris. Usually classed an interference, the pair defied the rules, crossing over several times to switch positions on the wave in a true show of the kinship and camaraderie that is such a fundament of the festival ethos.

Diminutive swell challenged finalists of the Garage Handplanes Body Bash, and from the outset it was clear that Tom Marr was going to defend his title. Challenged hard by Kaneali’i Wilcox, Tim Burnham and fellow finalists, Tom generated almost impossible momentum in the weakening waves.

Despite outstanding performances from all bodysurfers, Marr clutched to an early lead and when the final horn sounded, he had chalked up consecutive win number three.

A weekend of dog surfing, workshops and competition didn’t dampen Chris de Aboitiz’ enthusiasm and he surfed hard in the final of the Blue Planet 10-foot SUP Surf division. Not good enough though to overcome Paul Jones – who almost single-handedly and voluntarily coordinates all the festival’s SUP events – Steve Morley in second and winner, the superhuman Lincoln Dews. Dews must surely have paddled the equivalent of Sydney and back this weekend, racing, surfing and competing amazingly, this just one of his incredible finals placings.

And finally, after weeks of public anticipation, it was the turn of the four-legged surfers. Blue skies and fine waves blessed the event as Mr Dog Surf, Chris de Aboitiz, lead out the fleet of surfing dogs. Sand, rocks, footpaths – every inch of the Noosa shoreline was packed with spectators and the dogs reveled in the attention. Wipe-outs aplenty, cheers and smiles, and exuberant canine competitors, the VetshopAustralia Surfing Dog Spectacular was nothing short of just that; absolutely spectacular.

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In a stunning climax to this wonderful event for all ages, de Aboitiz took his 17-foot inflatable board into the waves, bringing with him a half-dozen dogs and their owners, paddling hard for the ultimate party wave.

Keeping the doggy theme, Growl Towels hosted a Costume Party to close the day’s aquatic action. The best-attended to date, 30 or more dressed-up surfers filled First Point in a colourful display of surfing. No agenda, no points or judges, it was all about the fun of riding waves. Junior hula girls, The Flash, even a lion paddled out for the fun. Smiles all round with lashings of stoke as the sun slowly set across Laguna Bay.

With the SUP and Body Surfing presentations wrapped up on the Zinc Stage, Brisbane three-piece, Kallidad, kept the stoke flowing well into the evening hours. The Hispanic, Mariachi-inspired tunes from the face-painted trio were the perfect end to an excellent Day Two of the 26th Annual Laguna Real Estate Noosa Festival of Surfing.