Cricks Noosa Festival of Surfing
First Point Noosa, Queensland
8 - 17 March 2014
Increase in swell overnight provides two-to-three-foot sets
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 13 March, 2014 - Perfect got better today, an increase in swell overnight providing surfers with two-to-three-foot set waves and long, connecting rides all the way through. First to take advantage of the glorious conditions were the girls in the Sunshine Coast Airport Women's Pro. Set waves opened opportunities for some superb scores, but in heat three things went from the sublime to the ridiculous, as Californian former world champ, Jen Smith, describes:
"That heat was amazing. We had pretty perfect logging waves out there. I got a couple of fun ones and then, all of a sudden, this set came through and there were dolphins jumping in the face. They rode the wave all the way in with me. Every time I turned I could see them right under the water - it was pretty cool!"
The Local Knowledge Senior Women's division was next to get wet. Dropping swell caused infrequent sets and tightly packed waves, long waits punctuated with fast and furious action. Local New Caledonian transplant, Marnie Morat had representatives of the Noosa Malibu Club hooting and hollering for a fantastic win, Marnie coming from a surfer of enjoyment last year to a very proficient competitor in this year's event.
The Quiver Kaddy Men's 50+ gentlemen had their moment to shine next, but a very fickle mid-section was making things incredibly tricky, bisecting the wave with few competitors able to bridge the gap.
The Foam Symmetry Old Mal was an incredible display of skill. Waves still suffering from the low-tide blues, this made little difference to the exceptionally experienced surfers. The pre-1968 surfboards out-aged most of their riders by a solid 15 years, but watching the display of old school finesse was a flashback to the days of 'Endless Summer' and Paul Witzig's 'The Hot Generation'. Matt Chojnacki in particular surfed like a young Russell Hughes reincarnated, laying down superb, sweeping cutbacks and arching bottom turns to pilot his '66 Keyo / Bob McTavish to a high-scoring victory.
Round two of the Golden Breed Noserider was a staggering display of nasal abilities. Surfers are scored on the amount of time they spend on the front 50 centimetres of their board. That time is doubled when hanging ten, with the combined scores of their top two waves being counted. World champion Taylor Jensen opened incredibly strongly, setting the bar with a single-wave score of 27.43 seconds - a massive score for the Californian. But Noosa surfer, Bowie Pollard, wouldn't be outdone at his home break. Getting five seconds up on Jensen's score, Bowie then backed it up with a high, 25-second score to achieve the best round score, almost ten seconds clear of his closest rival.
Patrick O' Leary defied doctor's orders again, paddling out despite a heavily bandaged, severely injured index finger, and will be glad he did. Against very stiff competition, Pat was the standout, using the smaller, punchy waves to maximum potential to open with an eight-point wave. From there, there was no reining Pat in, the second of only two waves ridden securing his advancement directly into the finals.
O'Leary will be joined in the finals by Edouard Delpero and Remi Arauzo. It was no easy run for the latter Frenchman, Arauzo, the lead swinging between three of the competitors and victory being anyone' claim right into the dying seconds. Out of nowhere an impeccable wave arrived, gifting itself to Arauzo who took the opportunity to the highest level. Wave ridden and points tallied, Arauzo had dropped just a quarter point from a perfect ride.
Second and third placers advance to tomorrow's reperchage final.
Local girl, Kathryn Hughes, flew the Australian flag in the second round of the Sunshine Coast Airport Women's Pro. Trailing in the early stages, it was a late heat charge that saw her leap frog from fourth place into first and advance to the semi finals as the only Aussie. World champion Jen Smith also advanced and, stunning all week, Honolua Blomfield unleashed another spectacular display of surfing to go straight into the semis. These three women will be joined by Americans Mele Saili and Karina Rozunko and Lola Mignot from Mexico.
Finless surfing has become a key component of the Cricks Noosa Festival of Surfing, and this year it stepped up to a whole new level. The two-heat round one was breathtaking from the outset. All the way from the far, far end of the Great Ocean Road, Jordie Brown is always worth paying attention to in this division, and this year he didn't disappoint. Opening with a 9.5, the Victorian left everyone in his wake. Cam Byram stretched the concept of finless, paddling out on a 12-foot toothpick, sliding his way through the lineup, from point to shore, with incredible finesse and skill.
But heat two would be the jaw-dropper. Expert alaia proponent Braden Weir sent spectators dizzy last year with his rapid and relentless sliding and spinning and this year was no different. Weir's first wave matched Brown's - and that was his worst. Two perfect tens ensued along with absolute silence. The crowd and judges couldn't believe what they'd witnessed! When their brains caught up with their eyes, everyone erupted in applause and Braden Weir, ever humble and quiet-spoken, came to shore with a perfect heat score under his belt.
Reperchage of the Foam Symmetry old Mal was the penultimate event of the day. Thomas 'Doc' Bexon showed that he's not just Thomas Surfboards' expert shaper but also a superb old logger, out shining his fellow competitors to take the first spot in the final proper. Returning to the points of Noosa from travels overseas, Jacob Stuth showed that he hadn't lost his touch on his journeys, claiming a confident second, while renowned old Mal officionado, Isaac Field snatched the last berth.
A warming tribute to Noosa's Mother Teresa, Moy Sweetman, who sadly passed away last year, was held by a select groups of close friends and celebrity surfers, before an exhibition in honour of the wonderful woman took place. Layne Beachley, Wendy Botha, Jen Smith, Tom Carroll, Honolua Blomfield and Nance Emerson shredded First Point as the sun set, showing exactly why they hold almost 20 world titles between them.
As the sun set on this glorious day, Andrea Kirwan and her band caressed the crowd with her beautiful music like the setting sun over Laguna Bay and another day drew to a close for the Cricks Noosa Festival of Surfing.