Sunday, 29 March 2009
Challenging surfing conditions continued at Kingscliff for Day 4 of the Hyundai Malfunction with the business end of the professional SurfTech men’s and women’s doing battle in the 1–2 metre stormy Easterly swell, strong sweeps and stiff SSE winds providing plenty of action for the Worlds best Longboarders.
Both Dane Pioli (Rainbow bay) and Chelsea Williams (Tweed Heads) are on track to chase their third consecutive wins after qualifying for tomorrow’s (Sunday 29th March) SurfTech finals.
“There’s a bit of pressure on me to perform the hat-trick and the commentators are really talking it up which makes it even more exciting,” said defending champ Pioli who learnt how to surf at Wollongong but now bases himself at Rainbow Bay, Coolangatta.
“I went surfing out on the SuperBank (Snapper to Coolangatta) yesterday when the swell doubled in the afternoon and that really helped me prepare for today ¼’s and semi’s plus I had two warm-up surfs prior to competing this morning,” said a fully pumped and confident Pioli.
Apart from the $7500 AUS prize money on the line, the rating points are equally as valuable as only two LQS spots are up for grabs to qualify for the 2009 ASP World title taken from the three Australian events Agnes Waters, Noosa and now the Malfunction (Kingscliff).
Pioli needs to win or come second to have a chance at the Worlds. He won his semi from Currumbin's Jackson Close a former National Champ and Malfunction winner. Close is also aiming to qualify for the ASP World title event depending on the result of tomorrow’s final.
The main danger man for the Australian contenders is Californian’s Taylor Jensen who blew everyone away on Thursday with a perfect 10 point ride rewarded by the judges for a superman aerial maneuver ala short board invented by Troy Brooks and perfected by world no I short boarder Joel Parkinson.
Jensen who hails from San Diego is more of a short boarder which explains his radical approach to Longboarding, “I landed my first air about 1½ years ago and am now really confident of pulling them in a heat," said the tall, lanky natural footer who is fresh from a win at Noosa.
“In previous years I barely made it out of my heat getting use to the powerful point waves here compared to the soft surf in Cali.”
Jensen powered his way through the ¼’s and semi’s with convincing wins and posting 9 point rides but nearly didn’t make the final when his favorite board that he won Noosa on broke in half in the semi’s.
"luckily it had happened after I scored the 9 and luckily I have a back up board but it’s my only board and I’m treating it with kid gloves!”
Former 07 World Champion Josh Constable of Noosa is recovering from heavy bout of pneumonia although is feeling stronger each day. “I contracted pneumonia 7 weeks ago and only just got back in the water a week before Noosa where I finished runner-up to Taylor,” said the father of two boys Jet ( 3) and 2 month old baby Jive to wife Anna.
“I had been training hard and wore myself down but each day I feel stronger and while I’m not at my best I’m in with a shot for the title,” said Josh who has won just about every Longboard event bar that of the Malfunction.
At this stage Constable is confident that he has qualified for the ASP World titles after a string of final appearances.
Contest commentator Peter Sainsbury summed it up perfectly. “The guys like Dane, Jackson, Taylor and Josh who got off to an early start were able to dominate the heat and pick off the right waves, whereas their opponents were left playing catch-up and taking waves out of desperation rather than quality rides.”
Final of the SurfTech LQS Mens
Dane Pioli, Jackson Close, Taylor Jensen, Josh Constable
In the SurfTech LQS women’s, Nava Young turned the table on fellow goofy footer and defending champ Chelsea’s Williams by winning the first semi final after Chelsea had won the opening heat over Nava (daughter of Nat Young).
Both girls progressed into the finals. Williams is also chasing three wins in a row and has yet to strike her best form, as Contest commentator Sainsbury pointed out. “Chelsea is capable of scoring high 9’s on her backhand but needs to concentrate on her wave selection and it’s fickle out there picking the right waves.”
In the other semi Hawaii’s Crystal Dzigas (pronounced with silent d) appears totally at home in the big waves and has been seen out on the Gold Coast points preparing up. Byron Bay medical student who this week graduated and is now referred to as Dr Tessa Davidson also looked comfortable on her forehand progressing through to the final.
Final of the SurfTech LQS Womens
Nava Young, Chelsea Williams, Crystal Dzigas, Tessa Davidson
In the highly entertaining Ron House Paddle Boards local legend and Long board King of Cool 50 year old Ray Gleave is firming as favourite after winning an intensely stacked semi final.
“These guys are half my age and are so fit, not like me who just goes surfing and drinks beers," said the multiple Australian Longboard and Malfunction champion.
“I only caught two waves in that heat and my knees started to buckle. Even though I’ve been competing for over 25 years, I still get nervous before a heat and that keeps my mind on the job. My board is 9'3” although my opponents are on 8ft models and easier to turn in these waves. Knowing your equipment and knowing what to do is what helps you in the heat.”
Former World Iron man champ Nathan Myers finished second and Lennox head Surf shop owner Noel “the Robot” Graham originally a pro junior short board champion from Byron Bay created the biggest upset of the day when he eliminated the fittest waterman on the Planet, Jamie Mitchell.
“I said a few Hail Mary’s and in the end I scrapped into third," said the Byron Bay born and bred smiling man they call Robot.
In the other semi Gold Coast City Lifeguard and Big Wave tow-in pro James “Billy” Watson cruised into first place, formerly a shortboard champion from the Burleigh Boardriders Club. Billy said position in the lineup was possession and it was hard to gauge the conditions and select the right waves. Currumbin’s Woody Jack was second and Sunshine Coasts Woogie Marsh was third. Ist, 2nd, and 3rd progress into tomorrows final.
Final of the Ron House SUP
James “Billy” Watson, Ray Gleave, Woody Jack, Nathan Myers, Woogie Marsh, Noel Graham
In the invitational expression session, recently retired ASP International President Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew made the mad dash from Sydney this morning after massive fundraiser together with Shaun Thomson for Athlete Terry McCann in Wollongong last night while screening their surfing doco “Busting down the Door”.
The 1978 World champ and 90’s World Master’s champ showed he had not lost any of those professional wave riding skills, the famous Bugs in the barrel tube act, carving cutbacks and that familiar Coolangatta style, his only competition was from NSW’s Jared Neal considered to be the World's best longboard goofy foot who only just missed out qualifying in the pro longboard finals.
Final of the Scales Seafood 9ft Amateur
Damien Farago, Justin Healey, Beau Nixon, Jackson Winter, Shane Morton, Craig Munro
Final of the Twin Towns Panel Repairs over 40s
Hayden Swan, Steve Jackson, Brett Keast, John Fraser, David Kottle, Nigel Beckham
Final of the Code Surf Women Amateur
Jess Roberts, Jade Foster, Monique Keane, Sally Paxton, Shonet Kelly, Lisa Nicholson
Final of the Dukes Longboards over 50s
Ray Gleave, Ric Chalmers, Peter Becker, Storm Carter, Greg Moir, Mike Pimm
Final of the Robert August over 60s
Ron Silcock, Ben Hutchings, Jeff Arnold, Neville Smith
Final of the Pacific Concrete Pumping over 65s
Barry McGuigan, Doug Warbrick, Des Williams, Pat Morgan, Kerry Purdon, OJ
Final of the Aboods Crane Trucks U/18 boys
Jackson Winter, Damian Farago, Beau Nixon, Jack Milgate, Clinton Guest, Scott Moir
Final of the Retros
Jye Byrnes, Ian Bell, Harley Ingleby, Mitchell James
Final of the Old Mal
Justin Healey, Ray Gleave, Jack Milgate, Beau Nixon