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Noosa Festival of Surfing wraps up several events

Soleil Errico © Noosa Festival of Surfing




Laguna Real Estate Noosa Festival of Surfing

Noosa Heads, Queensland Australia
5 - 12 March 2016

Honolua Blomfield, Rachael Tilly & Soleil Errico shine 

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 13 March, 2016 - Competitors and organisers alike were thrilled to wake this morning to perfect peelers wrapping into First Point – competition was on for finals day at the true home of the Laguna Real Estate Noosa Festival of Surfing.

A handful of repechage heats were left to run to complete the lineups for the finals, and the day commenced with the rep final of the Pacific Longboarder Magazine Under 18 Boys.

As was evident throughout the week, the talent of these younger surfers was phenomenal, comparable at every turn with their more senior peers. Kaimana Takayama made his trip worthwhile, completing the repechage in second for a place in the finals, but Tom Payne was man-of-the-moment with a successful win.

The final came later in the morning, suffering a little from the filling tide. Jye Whyatt was the standout for the first half of the heat, but big scores dropped in from a competent Takayama and Hudson Ritchie, who linked turns with balanced noserides for a close but solid win.

On the girls’ side of the 18s, presented by Noosa Surfing Magazine, Mason Schremmer surfed a brilliant rep final, closely followed by Byron’s Josie Prendergast and Morgan Griggs-Kennelly, to fill out the final.

Two Hawaiians, two Australians and two Americans filled the six places, including current world champion, 17-year-old Rachael Tilly. Honolua Blomfield was the unquestionable winner though, Tilly unable to rack up a pair of high-scoring waves and Blomfield stunning in the maturity and competence of her execution. Blomfield first, Tilly second and Soleil Errico made up the three stateside medallists.

The Coast 2 Coast Earthmoving Men’s Open rep final was too close to call, both heats coming down to the wire. Local son of renowned Noosa brand, Classic Malibu, Brett White, surfed with experience, matching his preferred performance style with expertly executed traditional manoeuvres for a strong, if last minute, win.

Nic Jones has progressed significantly over his years competing here, and this year proved that his abilities have reached a world-class standard. Patience proffered him a pair of good waves and he didn’t let the opportunity go to waste, taking first and a place in the final, which he then went on to dominate from start to finish. Jones emerged 2016 Open champion, with Hawaiian Keoki Saguibo in second and a excellent performance from Lawrence Harkness for a third.

The World Surfaris senior men showed that old dogs can learn new tricks, many of their number returning to the heavy, single fin logs on which they grew up. Bruce Channon has been a standout at the festival for almost as long as it has run, and didn’t fail to impress again this year, with a strong win in the Over 65s, Steve O’Donnell second and Norm Bateman not wasting the trip from the other side of the country for a third place.

There’s no holding back perennial victor, Eric Walker who, despite surfing in the younger 60 and Over age group at almost 66, didn’t break tradition with a brilliant win.

And in the World Surfaris 55s, it was the happiest man in Noosa, Michael Cottier who was made happier still by a smooth and stylish win over Paul Guthrie and Guy Johnson. Tony Abood, Mark Bain and Gilles Fesselet took fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

The Men’s 40 and Over, presented by  Kennards Hire, was a battle of the Aussie champs, with indigenous champion, Robbie Paige and Over 40s logging champion, Craig Davies going head to head. The pair tustled with the top spots, but Dean Bevan snuck through with a couple of dynamic, high performance waves to beat them both. Davies emerged second, Paige third.

Marnie Morat surfed with brilliance and humility in the Boom Shankar Women’s 35 and Over, improving greatly from last year for a very polished second place. But it was the competition experience and the talented fluidity of six-time winner, Peppi Simpson that could not be denied as the outstanding and winning performance.

The Coast 2 Coast Earthmoving Teams Challenge was nothing less than a showcase of some of the festival’s, and indeed the world’s, finest proponents of longboarding. Within less than two minutes, Harrison Roach and Josh Constable were both back on the beach, a single wave ridden and a stunning score clocked. Roach was awarded an almost perfect nine-point ride, but the former world champion did one better, perfect tens awarded by all judges to lead his Golden Breed team into a lead that they would not relinquish.

Some excellent waves from team leader, Mitch Surman, and last year’s Logger champion Sam Crookshanks, took the MS Glass team into second place, and it was Roach’s Deus ex Machina team in third.

JJ Star amazed in the Wegener Surfboards Finless Challenge, riding stand-up on a bodyboard on First Point’s prefect peelers. Nearly missing out on this year’s division it was both impressive and gratifying to announce JJ as Finless victor, Fred Branger impressively returning again to take second place.

The lineup for the Goddess Women’s Open Amateurs read like the best pro events, Hawaii, Japan and USA splitting the field evenly. The Japanese team continued their very impressive run in 2016, but it was both Americans who took the lead, Makala Smith surfing to a very strong second place, but Karina Rozunko the undeniable winner.

Jack Norton had it all to do in the dying seconds of the Laguna Real Estate Family Challenge, but do it he did! In a buzzer-beating late assault, Norton brough his team from the rear to take a win over the Wilsons, Dave and Dane, in second place, and an admirable third from the family team of Jordan Spee and Gary Hadenham.

Jordan Spee and the juniors Norton and Wilson followed up divisions for the Gordon & Smith Old Mal. In the draining, low tide waves, all did staggeringly well and, on their own, all were worthy of the win, but Harrison Roach and Matt Cuddihy had brought their A-games for a one-two combination, Roach taking the trophy in the growingly popular division.

The Golden Breed Noserider is arguably the most dynamic and impressive division of the festival, and tip time wasn’t sparse in the final. It was an intensely close final, all surfers just one good wave from victory. Dane Pioli surfed brilliantly, barely five seconds off win, but it was Taylor Jensen’s sublime skills on the nose that awarded him almost an entire minute for his final two-wave score and an excellent victory.

Honolua Blomfield illuminated once more to win the Ray White Noosa Women’s Pro, her surfing perfect, from each cross-step to every noseride. A fantastic win for the young Hawaiian, ahead of Brazil’s Chloe Calmon in second and Rachael Tilly in third.

And so to the last heat of 2016 – the Beach Beat Logger Pro, possibly the most anticipated and defining of all divisions. Harrison Roach, Nick Farago, Harley Ingleby, Matt Chojnacki – four names so synonymous with the art of logging that nothing could suggest a clear prediction of outcome.

Excellent noserides defined Nick Farago’s heat, perfect positioning and stylish soul-arches making his waves a joy to watch. Harley Ingelby brought the consummate performance of performance and traditional that awarded him last year’s world title. Harrison Roach’s casual yet impeccable talent defined his heat, but it was the inherent knowledge of the surfing genre, manifested in one of the most superb performances of the entire festival that placed Matt Chojnacki very clearly in the lead. It has been a long time coming for the Sydney traditionalist, and even his adversaries in the final were of the resounding opinion that it was a very well deserved win for Chojnacki.

Presentations could not be marred by the seemingly traditional downpour, and the powerful and energised tunes of the Mason Rack Band soon dried people’s spirits for an excellent end to the 2016 25th Anniversary of the Laguna Real Estate Noosa Festival of Surfing.

Tommy Leitch

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