Laguna Real Estate Noosa Festival of Surfing
Noosa Heads, Queensland Australia
5 - 12 March 2016
Beachbreaks host another day of action at the Noosa Festival of Surfing
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 11 March, 2016 - Disappointment again as the Laguna Real Estate Noosa Festival of Surfing was relegated to the beach breaks. But despite the rolling eyes and slumped shoulders, competitors were in great spirits, the swell was up, the sun was shining and early heats were on without a hitch.
The Japanese dominated the Goddess Open Amateurs, Shiho Okazawa and Manami Sakuma coming first and second in their respective heats, and then, in round three a little later, Natsumi Taoka and Hiroka Yoshikawa both won their round three heats. America was also a strong force, with Makala Smith, Karina Rozunko and Sierra Lerback also all progressing to the next rounds.
Round three of the World Surfaris Men’s 65 & Over saw a host of the usual suspects, Bruce Channon continuing his perennial festival form for a win and place in the final, Dave Wilson and Steve ‘Chooka’ Piec making up the numbers in his heat, while 1965 US Surfing Champion, Rusty Miller, and Norm Bateman both advanced from their heat.
Eric Walker, now 65, surfed impeccably below his age division the World Surfaris 60+, confidently winning and proving that age isn’t everything, the Ballina surfer decades more sprightly than his age would suggest. Mike Pimm and Dave Storck joined him in advancing to Saturday’s final.
Michael Cottier, the happiest man in Noosa, backed up his win in the World Surfaris Men’s 55 & Over immediately with a stint in the Gordon & Smith Old Mal, not being quite as successful, but doing well to make the back to back heats.
Roisin Carolan couldn't match her form of yesterday in the Old Mal, with fierce competition from all competitors. Matt Cuddihy, Jordan Spee and Dane Wilson came out on top, but all heats were touch and go until the dying seconds, surfers doing well in the very challenging conditions on their antiquated equipment. Harrison Roach, Jack Norton and Matt Chojnacki made up the numbers for the weekend’s final.
The Men of the Coast to Coast Earthmoving Open Amateur did well in the continually deteriorating waves, Californians Joe Rickabaugh, Andy Nieblas and Ricky Cunningham all standing out for deserved wins, Nieblas in particular showing astounding skill and gaining the results in high scores from all judges.
The Golden Breed Noserider is an event best held on Noosa’s point breaks, but with little more than a ripple at First Point, competition was required to remain on the beach. Taylor Jensen, former world champion, was a particular stand-out, somehow gaining over 30 seconds of tip time on his two combined waves in crumbling waves. His closest adversary, Dane Pioli, was over ten seconds behind, but all surfers did exceptionally well in far less than favourable conditions, the eight winners, making for a very exciting final in the afternoon.
A single, lone Australian remained in the Ray White Women’s Pro in Roisin Carolan, and she did the host country proud, undisputedly defeating current world champion, Rachael Tilly, although both girls would progress to the final. On the other side of the draw, Mason Schremmer was unlucky to suffer an interference call, dashing her chances, with Hawaii’s Honolua Blomfield and Chloe Calmon from Brazil taking the last two finals berths.
The Beachbeat Logger Pro was quite simply ridiculous, with some of the finest longboarders on the planet cast into battle across four heats, and the standard was astronomical. Vertically challenged though perfectly formed waves were the stage, the performers sixteen of the best. Harrison Roach, always sublime in his skills, didn’t hold back, long noserides coupled with critical, flowing turns for a huge win.
US surfer Jared Mell again showed his noticeable improvement, defeating former world champion Josh Constable among others for a win, while Jordan Spee showed the increased junior talent of last year to place second, despite giving away ten or fifteen years. Every heat was an absolute delight, every entrant with the potential of becoming the eventual winner and the lead changing numerous times throughout every match up.
Andy Nieblas again shone brightly for the semi final of the Golden Breed Noserider, defying every one of Newton’s Laws to levitate his way to a huge forty seconds of nose time. Harley Ingleby stepped up to take second, but the final three spots of the final were left in contention until after the heat. Taylor Jensen and Jai Lee were announced as winners, but photographic evidence brought to the judges’ attention showed Dane Pioli to be the actual fourth man. A little controversial perhaps, but an honest mistake and one accepted gracefully by all concerned. Jai Lee submitted his place with gentlemanly honour and Pioli advanced to the final.
First Point had little more than ankle-biters by the time the last heats paddled out for the Thomas Surfboards Finless Challenge. Noticeably absent was three-times winner, Braden Weir, but the standard was exceptional regardless.
Matt Williams, a very familiar slider on Noosa’s waves, surfed excellently, performing multiple spins and rotations on the difficult-to-control finless board, and JJ Star – who had begged the festival for an additional round and his inclusion – didn't disappoint. But it was the upright style and exceptional control of Fred Branger that was the division’s best ride, and Fred lead the way into what is sure to be an exciting final.
A surfboard swap meet in the XXXX Summer Beach Bar saw all sorts of goodies coming out of the woodwork, from boards to memorabilia and more than a few walked away with new additions to their quiver or collection.
Tropical Zombies energised the crowd with their blend of blue, funk and good old fashioned rock n’ roll, continuing the party later into the night at Café Le Monde. The first stop on a short East Coast tour, the festival enjoyed the vibrancy of the band, and more than a few toes were tapping, from the grommets to the grandads.
Featuring a collection of works from local filmmakers, including superb photographer Andy Staley and John Lee, father to Jai, and the crowd enjoyed a cultural, creative and artistic wind-down before the start of an action-packed weekend.