The weekend of the 18th and 19th of February was the last event for the 2011-12 season, at the reliable South Coast venue of Gerroa and Windang. This late in the season still sees Gerroa pull in a strong seabreeze while Windang provides a southerly option. Sam from WindSurfnSnow and Neil Pryde/JP were combined sponsors for the event and kindly donated a 2012 JP 92ltr Single Thruster!!
On a less than promising forecast the NSW Wavesailing crew met in the car park at the Windang surf club. Although only a light southerly was predicted for the Saturday the judges called for the skippers meeting at 11:00am and closed off entries strictly at 10:30am. For this event, the sign-on time was being enforced to make it possible to quickly seed heats and get competition underway if the wind picked up. Oli Barta, Queensland’s keenest wavesailor, who is also member of that state’s police force, volunteered to counsel competitors who ambled in late and expected to slot in the competition when it suited. Dan Berry from the Pro’s division who only had a marginal lead over Tim Knowles was going to potentially forfeit his chance at the NSW crown as he was looking like a ‘no show’ as the clock ticked over with 5 minutes to go. Fortunately at 10:27am his distinctive blue Hilux overladen with JP boardbags swung into the carpark. Oblivious to the fuss and unaware that his fellow competitors were cursing the fact that they would have to compete against the ‘ice man’ Dan signed on with a minute to spare.
As the morning rolled on, a layer of cloud was forming over the mountains and began pushing the southerly breeze with just enough force to make it sailable, but not contestable. The direction at times was ideal, a few degrees offshore and with small wave on the offer all the competitors had rigged and were amping for some sailing. The judges called for a one hour expression session from 12:30pm. Big kit was the order of the day and a couple of 100+ litre boards were seen on the water.
Despite nearly 40 sailors on the water there was plenty of room. A DTL right and an upwind left had formed either side of an ankle deep sandbank just north of the swimmers flags. A further break upwind also turned on a few waves but deteriorated into the small channel. Head judge Tim Knowles positioned himself on his SUP to evaluate the action and pick the best 3 sailors in the ‘hour of power’. Of the three peaks the right was forming up a small ripable bowl against the outgoing current and it was possible to drive into two to three powered up smacks. Brett Goodwin was the standout with the Red 5.0 S1 glinting every time he threw the fins out. Interestingly he has recently moved to last years’ model of Fanatic quad as it is generally considered the better wave riding board with more pronounced rocker that the flatter Euro optioned quads. Duncan Osbourne was everywhere and showing off his new HSM Firelight sail but he has given up on his big quad as there have been some issues with ‘sailing and leaving the plug out’. Francois Pialoux and Ben Kirk made the most of the waves in the second half of the session proving how much fun could be had.
All up an average day made so much better by having friends in the water and nearly 2 hours sailing with a rewarding wave ride for those with the skill and patience to position themselves just outside off the sandbar for the punchy 2’ waves. Everyone had fun and some even got the chance to perfect those valuable light wind water starts and tacks.
Winners were of the expression session were:
1. Brett Goodwin
2. Oli Barta
3. Anthony Frith & Duncan Osborne
By 3:30pm most sailors were back in the car park relaxing in the sun, sharing a joke about forgetting to tighten board plugs and preparing for the following day’s super nor-easter predicted for Gerroa. The judges meanwhile were seeding heats as fairly as possible and determining the best format for the day to get definitive winners in each division.
Saturday night was the usual event BBQ. Fresh Illawarra prawns this time too. A sincere thanks to all the chefs, cooks and helpers who made sure everyone was feed and refreshed. Adrien Gacon once again provided the most delicious French bread from Bakers Maison to add a touch of class to the marinated chicken and salad roll. Saturday night was also the AGM. After a couple of hours of debate, suggestions, discussion and compromise venues were decided, some judging criteria was going to be fine-tuned and new committee members selected. It’s great to see some new faces step into roles. Some mentoring will ensure everything runs smoothly and Tim Williams has put on the ‘el presidento’ cap to oversee the Association for the 2012-13 season. So Many thanks to all the outgoing committee members and to outgoing president Adrien Gacon.
Sunday’s seabreeze was building and competition was going to be held in small but contestable waves. In the morning a competition sailing clinic was held to give some of the newer sailors some tips and strategies to make the most of their heat. There is a hungry crew of teenagers all looking to improve and step onto smaller boards as soon as they can. They are relentless in their sailing, they don’t get tired, they don’t stop to eat and their backs don’t hurt after a day on the water. The ‘drop-in’ rule was also explained in detail but it generally comes down to whoever is first on the wave or swell has priority. If you end up on someone else’s wave stay out of the way otherwise you lose your highest wave score.
As for the event it all ran as expected. Some sailors worked luck to their favour and picked up a slightly bigger wave which linked through. Others pulled off their aerials onto dry sand. And the pros and Masters looped and shredded to the amazement of everyone. The standard of the teens has vastly improved too over the season. Move of the event could perhaps go to Oli Barta who somehow pulled a planning forward loop on the way into the beach with a metre to spare before dry land right in front of the judges’ station.
All the results can be found on the website. However, special mention must go to Warren Holder who managed to be best NSW Master in the final heat of the day. This was especially sweet as his season started badly with a terrible leg injury in event 1 and the final was held on his birthday.
See you next season as we are all looking forward to an exciting Central Coast event and Nationals in October!