Japanís Natsumi Taoka, Cancer Institute NSW Open Women's LQS winner. Photo: Luke Sorenson

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Report from Sean McKeown: Well, one more Australian Longboard Surfing Open (ALSO) done and dusted for another year. Conditions ranged from 3ft and messy to 4ft clean peaks and walls with a little bit of sunshine and a whole lot of rain at different times.

Throughout it all one thing never changed, everyone was stoked to be there, catching up with friends, watching others surf and catching the odd good wave themselves.
The decision to run the World Surf League (WSL) divisions over the one day proved popular with those competing in those two divisions, resulting in the largest and most talented field outside a full Championship Tour event.
Honours in the Cancer Institute NSW Women's Longboard Qualifying Series went to Japan's Natsumi Taoka. Natsumi headed off three world champions to win her maiden WSL title. Runner up was current world champion Tory Gilkerson, 3rd 2011 World Champion Lindsay Steinriede and 2016 world champion Rachael Tilley 4th. All three world champions being from the USA.
In the Volte Wetsuits men's Longboard Qualifying Series Australia's dual World Champion Harley Ingleby with easily the two best waves of the day took his 2nd ALSO title. French brothers Antoine and Edouard Delpero who have dominated the European longboard scene over the last few years finished 2nd and 3rd respectively, while Queensland's Nic Jones came in 4th.
Amateur divisions were treated to better waves each morning with the predicted heavy seas failing to materialise. Competitors gathered from all around Australia with a record number of entries from WA. International competitors represented Brazil, USA, Hawaii, Japan, Spain, Syria and NZ. Again the surfing was fast and heavy with some upsets in the finals with Brazils Dave Lima taking the 8ft division and The Godfather Ray Gleave unable to defend the O50's title he has held for the last 7 years. Most encouraging was the increase in numbers in the U18's for both boys and girls.
Aside from the competition there were a multitude of activities for everyone to enjoy ranging from a Fluro Friday paddle out, a Wacky Wave fancy dress, the classic surf vehicle display, a huge range of old boards thanks to Glenn Newman, free surf movies in the park and free live music.
To borrow the lyrics from a song written for the Whalebone "No matter the weather, as long as we are together" couldn't be truer than what was experienced over the 5 days.
Thanks to all the sponsors, participants, workforce and spectators that made this event fun. Hope to see everyone again next year.
     - Shaun McKeown, ALSO Director


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