Coming over the hill into Port Kembla the Hot Sails Maui flags were already fluttering in the westerly breeze. Port Kembla beach has been the venue for the opening event of last two seasons, however this was the first time that the forecast had allowed NSW WA to compete there. Moderate westerly winds were predicted all day and this direction accelerates up the long bay from Windang, blowing cross-off at the north end of the beach. A great day looked on the cards and through my polarised Dirty Dog sunnies the wind looked 5 knots stronger with plenty of whitecaps in the bay.
Conditions were tricky as the swell had nearly all been swallowed up by the rising tide. The judges conferred and proposed to hold off competition until the tide had begun to fall. Seabreeze.com.au was predicting a new pulse of swell along with 20 knots of breeze. Unfortunately, despite an improvement in the waves over the sand bar in front of the Port Kembla surf club the anticipated waves did not eventuate. Everyone did get the chance for a bit of a warm up sail in full sunshine and clean South Coast water. Competition began at 1:30pm under the watchful eye of Port Kembla SLSC who were providing rescue cover for the day.
With 15 minute heats and two wave scores counting the Amateurs hit the water. Conditions suited boards with plenty of float and even a SUP was seen. A few holes in the wind around the break and inconsistent waves made it a little harder than usual to pick up a ride. However, a clean wave that peeled across the sandbar had a couple of nice steep sections and the occasional lip to shred if you were in the right spot. Twelve entrants in Round 1 were whittled down with young Zack Coleman carving some nice turns to progress to his first Amateur final. Matt Cohen was everywhere in the final showing incredible manoeuvrability on his SUP. His equipment choice gave him a real advantage around the break and his ability to throw this huge board though bottom and top turns was amazing giving him first place.
The Pros followed with most of competitors on shiny new equipment. Duncan Osborne and myself were trying to capture the photographer’s attention with our new sails, Duncan with his Hot Sails Maui Firelight and me on a bright red Severne S1. Tim Knowles had picked up a new Fanatic as his small board and Dan Berry’s new Stone Quad was carving some great angles. Dean Hendrie let his sailing do the talking and showed that time away from competition had not dulled his strategy at all picking up second place.
The Masters division saw the return of Steve Robinson who showed that time away from competition had not dulled his style. A nice table-top aerial combined with some great turns was one of the waves of day, nearly finishing on the rocks in front of the surf club. Alan Bailey was solid as ever on his JP/Neil Pryde combo to take second. However, newcomer Remi Rooves took out first spot and is definitely one to watch.
Cheryl Prout was our only lady competitor who chose to sail with the amateurs as well as performing her role as judge, tallying results and generally making sure all the scoresheets were accounted for. She was invaluable on the day as was Jason Hale who took all the great pictures that have been posted since Sunday morning. If you get the chance have a look at his stuff online.
As always a big thank you to our sponsors Hot Sails Maui and Dirty Dog for this event, Severne Sails for Series Sponsorship and everyone who judged, carried equipment and generally created a really relaxed and supportive atmosphere.
The next event will be a completely new venue on the central coast however the final location is yet to be determined. There are plenty of spots between Toowoon Bay up to Norah Head and even Newcastle could work if the sea breeze really gets into Nobbys. In the meantime I’m going to work on my fitness and get one of those new Dirty Dog sunny savers for the next time I go for a SUP.
NSW WA President