Cricks Noosa Festival of Surfing
First Point Noosa, Queensland
8 - 17 March 2014
Epic day sets the scene for finals action
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 14 March, 2014 - As if we couldn’t wish for more, the best got better on day seven of the Cricks Noosa Festival of Surfing. Transparent waters arced into mechanically peeling waves leaving commentators and spectators alike speechless in their perfection. Surfers counted down the minutes until their heat, frothing at the mouth to get their share of the immaculate offerings of Noosa’s First Point.
The younger age divisions were the first to reap the benefits, the Pacific Longboarder Magazine Under 18 and Adventure Sports Under 15 boys divisions paddling out with enormous grins on their faces. Co-commentators Matt Chojnacki and Thomas Leitch discussed how it was always interesting to see the evolving styles of the younger age groups, but a pair of jaws dropped as the youngsters performed far above their years, a highly proficient and mature style exhibited by many of the juniors, belying their comparative inexperience.
As the tide ebbed, competitors in the Hive Swimwear Women’s Open couldn’t get themselves into the lineup fast enough. Kathryn Hughes brought her local knowledge to the comp, reading the waves perfectly to bring herself into a head-and-shoulders lead that wasn't relinquished. Festival newcomer, American Mele Saili was an unknown entity in the festival competitor list but is fast proving herself to be one to watch over coming years. Both advanced directly to the finals alongside Jessica Kelly from New South Wales.
The Classic Malibu Teams Challenge struggled with the bottom of the tide, but the calibre of surfing was astounding regardless. Thomas Bexon unleashed some staggering exhibitions of noseriding to collect two high scores for his team, while Dane Wilson chalked up a massive 9.00 despite having not surfed regularly for some time.
Team Deus blew minds. The quartet of Matt Cuddihy, Harrison Roach, Husni Ridwan and Zye Norris showcased some of the finest logging in the world, the low tide drainers offering almost no hinderance to the four surfers, a blistering heat surfed to send them through to tomorrow’s finals.
A slew of reperchage finals ensued, through the age divisions and for the Men’s and Women’s open amateur divisions. As the swell pushed back up so too did the waves, growing in size, connecting through the sections and just getting better and better. Noosa Malibu Club representatives Kirra Molner drew a tough heat, both unable to get the big score needed to make the final, Byron Bay's Roisin Carolan taking the top spot for the final, joined by USA's Makala Smith and Lucy Small from Victoria.
Young New Caledonian ripper Tom Morat showed incredible maturity and wave reading ability, charging through his heat to take the lead and advance to a final that will doubtlessly see some stunning performances from the under 15 boys. And in the Pacific Longboarder under 18s, Matt Shuler (QLD) and Ben Considine (VIC) we're joined by another New Caledonian, Baptiste Rabut. An international reperchage filled in the blanks, Kiwi Jordan Griffin, Joel Skinner from New South Wales and Californian Hudson Ritchie.
The one division of the day that wasn't elated at the impeccable conditions was the Golden Breed Noserider. The waves may have been pumping, they may have been freight-training down the line and, in any other circumstance, they may have been the competitors' idea of a dream come true. But these conditions are no good for riding the schnoz.
It was true testament to all surfers' skills that they got to the nose at all, but stand-out from previous heats, Bowie Pollard, was again on fire. And yet, despite his incredible performance, it was only in third place that he would finish. In second, Coffs Harbour's Harley Ingleby clock a whisker more, but jaws dropped at the performance of Clinton Guest. A healthy but, given his company, average heat was punctuated by a phenomenal final wave, the Queenslander racking up just under an entire minute of tip time.
The Sunshine Coast Airport Women's Pro was in danger of being an all-American (and Mexican) final, five of the six semi finalists coming from the continent. But one Aussie stood alone, flying the flag for her homeland; local girl Kathryn Hughes.
Having won the Hive Swimwear Open Amateurs earlier in the day, Kathryn was riding a high, but a couple of falls early in the heat could have rattled her composure. "I was just saying to myself, 'don't fall off, don't fall off'" she said later, and the mantra seemed to have paid off. A second place to former world champion Jen Smith saw her advance to the final to fly the solo flag once more.
Legends, legends and more legends filled the remainder of the day's program, with a Legends exhibition surf, featuring Tom Carroll, Layne Beachley, Josh Constable, Mark Cunningham, Jen Smith, Taylor Jensen and more. Taylor and Josh, though legends in their own right, were not included on the original program, but with conditions so staggeringly good, they cornered contest director Phil Jarratt and politely insisted! And how lucky for spectators that they did. Both surfers absolutely went to town, paddling out on shortboards and blowing the place apart in an awe-inspiring display.
Shannon Sol Carroll, of the Band of Frequencies, opened the evening's XXXX Summer Beach Bar entertainment, a mellow acoustic set bringing things to a more mellow close after the highly adrenalised day of action, before Mr Endless Summer himself, Robert August, presented a 50th Anniversary screening of the movie that made him a star. Open to questions, he graciously and enthusiastically answered the curious crowd's queries, including the quizzing of one little girl: "was that in the olden days?" she asked.
Noosa slept early tonight, knowing that tomorrow, finals day of the Cricks Noosa Festival of Surfing, was going to be a biggy.