Laguna Real Estate Noosa Festival of Surfing
Noosa Heads, Queensland Australia
5 - 12 March 2016
Californian Kaimana Takayama fires at the Logger Pro
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 7 March, 2016 - Action began once again on the beach breaks, disappointingly, but still with clean, consistent and contestable waves for the World Surfaris senior men’s age divisions.
The men of the 55, 60 and 65 and Over age divisions made the most of the rise in swell which, despite being a little wind-affected, provided more than enough for them to display their numerous years of surfing experience.
Perennial festival stand-out Eric Walker, 2015 champion of the Men’s 60 and Over class, defended his title magnificently in round one, despite now qualifying for the next age bracket, turning 65 in the latter half of last year. Walker lead from start to finish and was in a league of his own, unquestionably victorious in the first stage of the division.
Noosa Malibu Club president and also the festival’s official photographer, Ian Borland, displayed humility in placing third to advance to the next round, but a glimmer of pride and stoke belied his cool and calm exterior.
Japan’s Hiroaki Nakano was another impeccable surfer, leading from start to finish and a shoe-in for round three from his very first wave.
Kaimana Takayama © Noosa Festival of Surfing
The Over 55s saw familiar names going through, including Chris Cox, Tony Abood and Guy Johnson, but an upset in John Hippocrates, who came fifth in an unfortunate heat of fickle swell.
The first round of the Ray White Women’s Pro showcased a staggering display of talented ladies, the caliber of talent continuing to rise, with a noticeable increase from last year’s already excellent standard.
A very welcome return to First Point witnessed a round of incredibly close heats, Byron Bay’s Roisin Carolan and Mexico’s Lola Mignot both moving from the lower ranks to a qualifying second place inside the final minute of their heats. Carolan chalked up an impressive 8.5-point wave for her final score, and Mignot was just a quarter point behind on her carbon copy of Carolan’s performance.
Japanese surfer, Hiroka Yoshikawa, was also untouchable, joining Carolan in the third round with seeded 2015 finalist, Karina Rozunko. Lola Mignot progressed with Hawaiian Mason Schremmer and festival first-timer, Justine Mauvin into the third, with Tory Gilkerson greeting them from her seeded spot.
The Beachbeat Logger Pro was ten heats of amazing, the level of surfing simply world-class in the small but abundant First Point peelers. Jordan Spee – a junior standout from last year – displayed maturity and significant improvement on last year’s substantial skills. Up against some impressive names, including Thomas Bexon and MS Surfboards stablemate, Kai Annets, Spee outshone them all, a more than deserved win propelling him into round three.
Dane Wilson continued his blistering form, posting some of the highest heats of the entire festival so far, and Sean Tully showed sublime skill, surfing both regular and goofy-footed with equal ease to emerge runner up to a strong performance from Dane Pioli.
Matt Cuddihy was quite simply in a class of his own, his smooth and casual style radiating through the rain squalls. Never rushed, never ruffled, Cuddihy displayed exceptional manoeuvres with phenomenal grace and seeming ease, local knowledge perhaps assisting, but an undeniable wealth of talent providing him a near-perfect 9.75 point ride.
Zye Norris, another top level local logger, reflected his Noosa comrade’s laid back approach, noseriding, trimming and cutting back as easily as if he was back on Terra Firma. A strong win took Norris and Englishman Ben Howarth, returning to the festival after a long hiatus, into the third round from heat seven.
Although one of the youngest competitors in the Logger Pro, Californian Kaimana Takayama as another of the untouchables, leading from first wave to siren call for an impressive and confident victory.
The evening’s entertainment commenced with a presentation from Noosarian timber board guru, Tom Wegener, and the Papua New Guinea Surfing Association’s Andrew Abel. The pair narrated the story behind PNG’s Tupira Surf Lodge, a spectacular surfing destination with a very special message.
The location of World Surfari’s generous two-person, two-week competitor prize, drawn later this week, Tupira is a flagship for sustainable tourism, initiated by Abel, to create abundance and development harmonious with local culture and people. Abel’s work also includes the foundation Surfers Against Violence Against Women, and he went on to present an award-winning movie he has co-created, ‘Splinters’, screened at Halse Lodge late in the evening.
With Central Coast band, The Sea Gypsies, bringing slow blues-reggae folk to the festival stage, the crowd relaxed after a busy day of surfing, talking story with old friends and new. The Sea Gypsies were superb, and a perfect fit to the laid back beach bar vibe such an integral part of the festival’s après surf activities.