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Noosa Festival of Surfing kicks off at Noosa Woods

Taylor Jensen, 24th Annual Noosa Festival Of Surfing, Noosa Heads
Taylor Jensen © Ian Borland / Cricks Noosa Festival of Surfing



Noosa Festival Of Surfing

Festival of Surfing
Noosa Heads Australia
6-21 March 2015

Small surf forces event to launch at more exposed break

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 8 March, 2015 - The 24th Annual Cricks Noosa Festival of Surfing kicked off this morning with a change of venue. Diminutive swell at Noosa’s First Point called for a relocation further down the beach to utilise the extra swell on the less sheltered beach break at Noosa Woods. First round to hit the water was the Deus Womp Comp.

The inaugural bodysurfing competition of last year drew much attention from around the world and this year saw a competitor field from across Australia, France and a strong contingent from San Diego, California.

Californian, Chris Lafferty, made the most of the one-foot conditions, using up his vast experience and bag of tricks for a convincing heat three win, while Hayden Emery and Phil Gabel fought close run heats one and five respectively to emerge victorious.

Local lad and an unknown entity in the field of bodysurfing, Fraser Biden, usually more akin to longboarding, put on a fantastic show and, along with John Robbins and France’s Jonathan Despergers, advanced to round two with a heat win.

At the other end of the surfing spectrum, the stand-up paddleboarders were next to get wet. Familiar names were odds-on favourites and didn’t disappoint, despite the small conditions. Geoff Breen dominated his heat, a 17-point combined score seeing him throwing his board around with strength and finesse, performing incredible maneouvres despite the lack of power provided by the ocean.

An unknown to these shores, Hawaii’s Bernd Rogediger unleashed a stunning performance on a board that looked little more than an engorged shortboard, while Lincoln Dews, Tully St John, Kai Bates and Keahi DeAboitz were among the other outstanding surfers to advance to round two of the Mass Nutrition Men’s SUP.

Festival regular, Shakira Westdorp was on her game once again this year, blasting her heat of the Mass Nutrition Women’s SUP Surf division, while three surprise packages from Hawaii’s Waikiki caused quite a stir. The Schremmer sisters are just 8, 13 and 14 years old, but performed well beyond their years.

Older sisters, Lola and Mason both scored seconds behind Westdorp and Kelale Dorries respectively, while little Scarlett couldn’t hide the disappointment, failing to qualify for the finals by a barley whisker and a count-back decision by the judges.

Round one of the Jeep Challenge pitted four surfers against each other across four disciplines; longboarding, shortboarding, finless and body surfing. Among the standouts, Matt Cuddihy combined his renowned longboarding talents with an incredible proficiency as a bodysurfer and former world longboard champ, Taylor Jensen proved once again his abilities as a consummate waterman.

France’s Antoine Delpero too proved that, while a longboard may be his board of choice, he can ride waves superbly whatever craft he chooses. Round Two of the Deus Womp Comp saw a cross-shore breeze ruffle the already tricky conditions, but the level of watermanship was outstanding.

Seeded into round two, last year’s winner, Harrison Roach recalled the skills that saw him to victory. Ballina body womper, Rene Nippard, seeded from last year’s finals position, outshone much of the division, providing a confident win in heat two. Don McCreadie, another strong competitor from last year, was truly on form, followed by the Frenchman, Jonathan Despergers, while a close, one-two battle took place between Chris Lafferty and Billy Moore.

Lafferty, in his distinctive red bodysuit, was abundant with tricks, while Moore resembled a dolphin, underwater take-offs launching him out in front of the wave with perfect use of the ocean energy to provide him with long rides all the way to the sand. In the end, it was Moore who emerged in first, although both bodysurfers will qualify for the semi finals.

Meanwhile, at First Point, the Mass Nutrition 5km paddle race was taking place. Fast and furious, and relishing the flatter conditions, the ironmen and women of the paddle race put on a superhuman display of fitness and stamina.

The festival’s traditional opening ceremony took place in the evening and was both a wonderful way to wrap up day one and a particularly moving affair. Well over 50 surfers took to the water for the paddle out ceremony, this year in honour of a wonderful surfer and close friend of the festival, Barry ‘Maggoo’ McGuigan, who sadly lost his battle with cancer earlier this year - a very touching tribute to a humble, inspiring human being.

The festival then presented tribute to the rightful owners of this land, the people of Kabi Kabi First Nation. Helena Goulash offered some wonderful words of welcome from her people, thanking surfers in particular for their connection to nature and respect for the preservation of this beautiful part of the world before sharing traditional welcome song in the Kabi Kabi dialect.

And then it was time to rock out. Isaac McGovern serenaded the XXXX Summer Beach Bar crowd with some stunning acoustic jams before Brisbane band, Cheap Fakes, who you may have heard on the festival’s ‘8 Days of Pure Stoke’ Youtube clips, illuminated the stage with their blend of funk, ska and jazz, entertaining the crowd and getting more than a few feet tapping.

A highly successful day was had for this, day one of the Cricks Noosa Festival of Surfing, with much more stoke to come.

Thomas Leitch

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