Date: 20th – 21st November 2010
All week before the comp the forecast did not look promising as NE winds were predicted for every day except for the weekend of the competition. Even by Thursday it looked like the Corona event at Merimbula was going to receive the best winds and the third NSW WA would be another marginal seabreeze event with small surf. However, the wind gods smiled and Ask Huey delivered the swell making the event on for one and all on Saturday. The reality was that the Gerroa wind machine would hopefully suck in a contestable breeze by mid-afternoon and enough southerly swell would hang around to hold some of the opening heats. Sunday was looking a better day for wind but any waves would likely disappear overnight.
Anne from WindsurfnSnow brought down some hot looking Fanatic freewaves to play with. The light conditions made the two big boards very popular with the heavier sailors in the fleet. The 9.0 Naish SUP was also very popular. The chance to try before you buy convinced a couple of the boys that the small but manouverable size of the 9’ was the way to go with their Supping. “Yep definitely, I be talking to Sam (From WSS) next change I get” was heard as the Naish SUP was passed onto the next eager SUPer.
The judges called for a 2:00 pm meeting in hope of getting in some heats late in the afternoon. By 1.00 pm a couple of the lightweights and desperate looked to hook into some of the clean 2-3 set waves. Is Gerroa the Cape Verde of NSW? The waves were aligning straight onto the beach and not peeling down the line as they can when Gerroa is perfect. Club president Tim and vice president Adrien worked the upper bank before their official duties began. The upper bank was setting up for some nice smacks and even though the wind was light there was enough power to race down the line and push off through the bottom turn and hit the closeout that threw out over the sandbank. By 2.00pm everyone was on the water and the competition was called on to quickly start with the Masters division.
The Masters were sent out with a building swell as the tide was coming in. Some clean sets would build out the back and competitors had to aggressively position themselves with quick tacking to pick up waves as upwind as possible. Jason Cater was the standout competitor on the day. Clearly a wave magnet he would race down the line for nice top to bottom combos and re entries off the white water. Everyone at least had one great wave but luck was definitely a factor. The judging system definitely supports the sailor who for 15 minutes can consistently sail at a high level and seem to be everywhere at once. It was great to see Tony Marsh sailing after a long layoff from shoulder surgery. He’s working on a new formula for Ask Huey sunscreen while expanding the brand into Europe. Winners of Round 1 advanced to the final while the remaining 7 contenders battled it out for the remaining two spots. Alan Bailey (My smallest wavesail is a 5.8) impressed with some late smacks while sailing with a broken rib to take second. Steve Myers and Warren Holder could not be separated and tied for 3rd.
The first heat of the Groms/Junior/Youths and Ladies was sent out after the opening Master’s rounds. In a reversal of the previous Gerroa event Forest Ladkin got the mettle over Oliver Cox while Cheryl Prout showed that recent knee surgery has not slowed her down. Alex Lueck showed definite signs of promise as he rode his best wave of the series on borrowed gear. He should advance from the Starboard SUP he has been using as he is obviously ready to advance to full wave gear.
The Amateurs is a popular division and all sailors have risen the bar with their sailing. A common “complaint” heard on the beach was that there were no easy heats. After a season a couple of events the Ams know what the judges are looking for and much less nervous about going for it in a competition setting. Standout sailor of the event was Guillaume Valdant and best improver was Sebastien Thevenet. Jaime Coelho showed enormous potential freesailing however he could not find any set waves during his 15 minute heat. He much preferred the Sunday session when he got more waves than the Queen on an official visit. Anthony Frith’s wave riding has improved significantly and being well powered up on his Jolly Green Giant sail during his heats was an advantage. Surprise 3rd place was Adam Lowein. He’s a Gerroa local who does not rate himself much of a sailor and only just “getting back into it for a bit of fun”. Kris Markowski took a break from being photographer to compete and scored some smooth long rides.
The Pros division was the strongest and largest for quite a number of events. Former Australian champions and state champions made the drive keen to push the level of sailing in this event. Dean Headrie pulled out all stops to make it as well as Tim Knowles, Mick Westra who were all going to give Dan Berry a run for the event win. The highlight of the event was when former Aussie champ, Mick Westra on a borrowed board picked out the biggest set wave of the day and dropped down into a fast lay down bottom turn during his second chance at the final. Unfortunately his aggression and not being in sync with the board, unfamiliar footstraps and underfinned meant he lost his power turn in the most spectacular way. With the finals running late into the afternoon Deano had leave, freeing up a final spot for Mick to fill. It was unfortunate that the waves seemed to be more inconsistent later in the afternoon but the judges made the decision and press on to get a full event result. Sailors at a Pro level can make marginal conditions looked good with their polished technique and experience. Dan Berry showed his usual polish to take the title while Olli Barta and Tim Knowles both had flashes of aggression and brilliance.
At 6:30pm the competition was declared over and the event site was quickly packed up. Back at the team house the boys had the BBQ firing and the specialty bread for the evening from Bakers Maison was to be Turkish roll. Rhys Herbert worked his Mediterranean magic on the salads and everyone was well fed before the official part of the night began. Forest Ladkin scored a new North XT skinny extension to replace the carbon one he broke launching into a huge aerial during an unofficial competition with Oliver Cox upwind of the contest arena. The Ion boardbag went to a good home and ever winner walked away with a great prize.
Sunday dawned with the potential for a decent NE although the waves were under 1’ and breaking full on a high tide. A quick SUP was interrupted by a building cross off breeze which was sailable by 10:30am. After a long day’s competition the remaining committee members had decided to just have free day’s sailing in what was to offer satisfied that they had scored the best of the waves on the Saturday.
So is Gerroa the Cape Verde of the NSW south coast? This authors’ answer is Yes. For a golden hour the swell arrived and peaked with headhigh sets on the upper bank, and peeling/barrelling perfectly down the line over a shallow sandbar and eventually offering a peaky section to launch off.
Where was everyone? Waiting for the wind to build, which it would! But even though the breeze was light and patchy the apparent wind squeezed up the wave face was enough for 5.0 and 76 twinnie. Ben Kirk was the only other sailor out and made the wise choice to take out the small board. Wishing that our heats were on at that moment each wave presented 3-4 top to bottom turns with steep sections holding up in the offshore winds. This was the best Gerroa has to offer. Later in the day the 20knot seabreeze gave everyone more than enough sailing and waves until 5:30pm.
So what great weekend. Great competition, good food, drink, company and more sailing in two days that most people had had in a month. See you at the next one – Cronulla!
|A – Groms|
|B – Youth|
|C – Ladies|
|D – Open Ams|
|E – Open Pro|
|F – Masters|
|G -Grand Masters|