I’m sure that anyone who has seen the footage aired on WIN television would agree that the conditions for the last event in the NSW WA season absolutely rocked. Big winds and big seas really offered up the sort of conditions to shake up the final places in all divisions of the 2012/13 Severne Series. What was most impressive was that every competitor rose to the challenge of the conditions and supported each other through some of the toughest sailing we have ever had during a NSW WA competition.
So, the story begins with our arrival at Windang beach at 8:00am to check out the conditions and set up the various contest equipment. 4.7’s and 4.2’s were rigged to get in an early sail before the main fleet arrived for the 9:30am sign-on. Adrien Garcon and Oliver Cox launched from the beach into very cross 25knots. However, it was gusty and light on the inside. As they reached out to the island it was obvious that the biggest sets were swinging wide and starting to break on the outer bombie with the push in the tide. Watching from the hill the judges nervously seeded competitors wondering if the conditions were going to be a little too extreme. Olli and Adrien, however, proved that the right waves were opening up and peeling beautifully for perfect DTL although it was not looking like much jumping would occur.
The skippers meeting was booked for 11:00 and after a quick run-down of the plan for the day, El Presidente, Tim Williams made sure everyone was aware of the safety procedures as the rips and shorebreak had begun to look particularly nasty. As the wind was set to turn more cross shore and settle competition was delayed until 12:30 giving everyone a good opportunity to dial in the conditions. The main tactic was to pick the second or third wave of a set from the outer break and not be tempted into the tasty lips on offer as the waves reformed on the inner sand bar.
Getting out did prove to be a little luck of the draw and very unlucky for some. The Juretics attempted to ride the rip next to the rocky groyne as their method of avoiding the heavy beach break and sweep. However, a rouge set pushed both Jason and Jake onto the rocks. Lots of sail repair tape and ding repair and they were back on the water. No regrets and no whingeing was the theme for the day and Jason took the knock in his stride and set up his board as an asymmetrical fin combination after donating a side fin to the rocks.
Surprisingly the lagoon and river mouth started to offer some of the most fun conditions for the day as well as more reliable access to the outer waves rather than the lottery of the beach. Competitors were given an extra 5 minutes to get out and so many chose to bog out through the turbulence of the river mouth for the start of their heat. On the inside the sand bar was holding up a steep little ramp as waves broke inside Lake Illawarra. It became like a little ‘skatepark’ where it was possible to hit the ramps at full speed and practice forward and back loops in relative safety.
Rather than give an outline of each heat we thought we should mention some standout moments from the day.
- Duncan’s aerial off a ¾ mast high set (but not caught on camera)
- Matt Cohen’s grin each time he ripped up a bomb set on his 120 ltr+ Starboard Kode
- Benoit Prim’s red NP Combat deep in the pit (ultimately sacrificing his 4.7 to the wave gods)
- Tim Knowles’ Gu Screw on the inside and subsequent pounding under a mast high set
- Zac Coleman being completely as ease in some of the biggest conditions of his short wavesailing life
- The ability of the judges and collators (Cheryl, Barbs and Sorrell) to sit in the wind and rain all day to get the results out as quickly as possible
- Koichi using his Maui experience to stylishly combine bottom and top turns
- WIN television sending a camera crew to film the Pro’s and Masters heats (as well as help hold down the tent in the 40 knot rain squalls)
- Jessica Crisp getting caught under a logo high closeout and showing that she can swim for gear like the rest of us
Finally, the day belonged to Mick Westra and Brett Goodwin who are locals to this break and know its rhythm. Mick has the strength to attack the lip and Brett’s lay down bottom turns on the biggest sets of the day were impressive. For some of us it was survival sailing with some great wave rides while Mick and Brett’s red Severne sails weaved the most unbelievable vertical lines whilst their boards left the waves torn up in huge plumes of spray. Both these guys have a real chance at the National Titles in mid-February.
For me, the whole vibe of the day of the day has left its mark. The camaraderie, the support and encouragement was so great to see. Everyone managed to lift their sailing prowess and many felt like they had achieved so much in such challenging conditions. Rather than complaining about the gusty wind or needing more time in their heat the talk was about tales of awesome rides, jumps and survival with gear intact!
Presentation was at the team house after our usual BBQ (thanks to all those who cooked and helped clean up) with new season NP Pulse Harnesses to the winners. Place getters had the pick of Ask Huey sunnies and Maui Sails accessories. Thanks to Ask Huey everyone walked away with sunscreen from the event and a memory of one of the best comps for many years.
NSW WA President