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Noosa Festival of Surfing kicks off with traditional ceremony



Laguna Real Estate Noosa Festival of Surfing

Noosa Heads, Queensland Australia
5 - 12 March 2016

Trim event and men's SUP event hits the water at the rivermouth

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 5 March, 2016 - Through a year of planning and organisation, there is one thing that can only be left to chance: the waves. An unfortunate, though still highly contestable start to the 25th Annual Laguna Real Estate Noosa Festival of Surfing saw competition begin at Noosa river mouth. The judges’ first task for 2016 was The Surfboard Warehouse SUP Surf Men’s division.

A solid bank presented both left and right-hand waves for contestants and saw numerous successful and dynamic waves ridden, semi finalist of last year, Geoff Breen claiming the first victory of the year in heat one.

The top three competitors of each heat were to progress to round two to join the seeded finalists of 2015, and all were working hard in the inconsistent if reasonable swell.

Trevor Tunnington, the world’s fastest paddler, as recorded earlier this year in Germany, was on spectacular form, generating power for explosive manoeuvres throughout his long rides for an undisputed victory.

Defending festival SUP ladies’ champion, Shakira Westdorp, was an unfortunate omission from heat one of The Surfboard Warehouse ladies SUP surf, a leg injury keeping her out of the water. The three-strong Schremmer sisters returned to Noosa from their Hawaiian home, a dominant year seeing them collectively claiming numerous titles and, though conditions may have been a little different to ‘back home’, the trio made a very strong show across both divisions.

The Garage Handplanes Body Bash took full advantage of the beach break location and founder David Archer and Garage ambassador and current World Champion, Tom Marr stepped up to represent their brand, both dominant in their heats.

Marr’s brother, Jacob, and father, Jae, suggested a genetic predisposition to the discipline, Jacob coming second to his older sibling and dad also claiming a heat victory.

Late entry, Sydneysider Rikki Gilbey, made the most of his surprise position, a very healthy second place securing him an advance to round two.

Round two of The Surfboard Warehouse Men’s SUP brought endurance into play, all surfers having to paddle hard against wind and currents to stay on the spot. Jackson Close drove a late charge, locking in two solid waves, each with a perfectly executed 360-degree spin in full control. Trevor Tunnington again shone, using his paddle strength to generate speed out of nothing for some healthy scores.

All were vying for one of the twelve places in the afternoon’s semi final.

The Marr clan were again dominant in the semi final of the Garage Handplanes Body Bash, Tom, Jacob and Jae all charging hard across the two heats. In tricky conditions, a collection of strong rides made the finals selection very tough for judges, but in the end, it was Tom Marr that once again shone brightest, indisputably making the final.

Jacob Rosenbrock, Garage Handplane’s David Archer, Jae Marr, Paul Khodor from Sydney and perennial stand-out Phil Gabel filled the finalist’s spots.

In ever-diminishing conditions, the SUPers were truly put to the test in the semis. Competitors were struggling over scraps, the occasional set wave utilised to its maximum, but too sporadic to offer true potential.

Close was again on fine form, taking out his heat, to be joined by Geoff Breen and Kieren Taylor in the final. On the other side of the draw, Kai Bates and James Casey joined winner Toby Cracknell to complete the six-man finale.

The McTavish Trim came to First Point for the first time ever, invitees to this unique event simply required to ride boards of over ten feet for as long as possible. Seems simple? Well, in waves of less than a foot, all surfers were challenged in their abilities to trim their boards through the First Point waves as they hugged the draggy shoreline.

Bob McTavish himself was on hand to hold the flags marking the longest rides, and surfers did exceptionally well to break the one hundred metre mark. Ever-renowned surfer Harrison Roach set the benchmark with a 128-metre ride, but Noosa local shaper, Thomas Bexon raised the bar, bettering his own record to surf his way 132 metres down the beach.

After a wonderful tandem display from an international consortium headed by festival regulars, Fred and Lily Branger, the opening ceremony began with the traditional ho’okupu ceremony. Over a hundred people from around the world then paddled out to join the annual circle of surfers from around the world, holding hands, uniting and embodying the camaraderie so encapsulated in the festival spirit.

Representatives of the Gubbi Gubbi indigenous people of the region then brought a cultural performance to the stage, sharing the message of welcome, as well as the history of the true locals to a highly appreciative crowd.

A folk two-set wrapped up a pleasantly sedate evening of entertainment. The young band form Sydney, Sons of the East drew recent attention online, featuring on the soundtrack to ‘The Road North’, a short film and internet sensation that documents Jack Entwistle’s journey up the East Coast for last year’s Noosa Festival of Surfing. The crowd was more than welcoming, enthralled throughout, dancing and insisting on an encore, to which the young guys obliged.

Adam Harpaz finished off the evening on the sand with a smooth and mellow folk-blues acoustic set, some covers, some his own tunes, but the perfect way to finish off the oceanside activities of the day.

Bearfoot brought a dub reggae flavour to the after-hours activites at festival partner venue, Café Le Monde and socialising and frivolities continued well into the first night of the Laguna Real Estate Noosa Festival of Surfing.

Tommy Leitch

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