Sunrise in the wild open-skied West. Photos by John Chisholm & Kerrie Littlefield Scott

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Although the title may sound a bit like a concentration camp the location is far from it.
Coronation Beach is home to the Geraldton Winter Classic, a must-do event on the WA longboard calendar. The comp sees the WA longboard clans gather for a weekend of waves, wine, beer, food and campsite frivolities, and this year was a cracker, with the largest waves in the contests 17 year history.

Geraldton is situated 5 hours north of Perth, with Coronation Beach another skip and a jump further up the road. As typical of the WA coastline, it's one of the places where you drive in from the inland highway and as you reach the top of the ridge, you are confronted with one of those awe inspiring views of the Indian Ocean. Your heart starts to race while scanning the many firing reef breaks as you drive down the winding road to the campground below.

The Coro campsite is proper WA style; no shops, no ice, no water, no bottle shop and ground so hard you need a 5mm masonry drill bit and an impact driver to put in your tent pegs – I shit you not. This is 4wd country and if you think its easy towing jets skis and port-a-loos on sand hills – think again. However the one luxury is the immaculate long drop toilets which certainly took a workout after Saturday night's curry-a-ganza.

As is tradition, the Mullalloo boys provided the meet and greet roast beef rolls on Friday night, which were washed down with a variety of beverages and a BYO musical instrument jam around the campfire.


On Saturday morning we were greeted with head to head-and-half high sets breaking up to 400m off the beach, light offshores and not a cloud in the sky – game on. With the swell predicted to peak at 4.0m on the Saturday night, everyone was frothing.

The waves pumped all day and even with the wind turning onshore in the afternoon, the standard of surfing was outstanding! Judges skills were thoroughly tested when surfers were continually splitting peaks and riding 200m in the opposite directions. Saturday night's Long Table Curry Night was hosted by the Cottesloe Longboard Club, and music credit goes to our resident DJ - Richo Richardson. With everything from the early 80s to Rammstein, Richo certainly had everyone's music tastes covered.

Sunday morning was finals day and Hughie let us have it. Double head plus sets breaking way out to sea, light offshores and crystal blue skies. With mountains of water roaming from South to North, positioning became a matter of priority (survival). However it all fell into obscurity when the set waves broke a km out to sea and lined the beach as far as the eye could see. Enjoy!

Special mentions
Marley Mardon and Jacob McIver are two 15 year olds to keep your eyes on. They both rip with Marley taking out the under 21's and placing 4th in the open 9ft event. Marley's old man, Ben, took out the 8ft over 40's.

Paul Burke took out the Open 8ft and the O/40s 9ft with a dominating display of power surfing the big right at the southern end of the contest area.

Great efforts by the Torvill and Dean couple of WA longboarding - Dougy Curruthers and Amanda Curley - with Dougy taking out the Men's over 50 and Amanda placing in the Women's over 40's.

The stand out female performer was Linda "Lovelace" McGuiness who took out both the Open Women's and over 40's Women's in a dazzling display of charging the big bombs.

Cottesloe's very own Kelly Slater – Glenn Solomon - showed it was possible to achieve the highest score of the heat without doing a turn when really he was just hanging on in survival mode. Solo's dedication, commitment and fastidious equipment selection saw him take out the over 55's 9ft and the over 50's 8ft.

The battle of North vs South saw Scotty Trew and Ryan Egan taking alternate wins and placings in the Open Loggers and Open 9fts.

Ryan Clark was also a standout winning the Old Mal and coming 2nd in the Open loggers. He was also very quick to let everyone know of his achievements on social media incase you weren't able to make the event.

GMack took out back to back open 60's and Graham Walmsley took out the over 65's with an effervescent display of performance surfing, in a heat that saw some massive bombs rain on our elderly statesmen.

Big thanks to Ryan 'Igor" Egan who took over the role of head judge from Dave Flowers who sadly passed away late last year. Dave was a much loved character and a man that gave everything to WA longboarding. He was sadly missed this year but the Camp David sign, erected in his honour at the corner of the Coro campsite, is a testament to the respect and the love this man oozed.

Igor also proved it was possible to take a HiAce Van over a 70m section of boggy sand, as it's only a matter of speed (warp).

Two men, who will remain nameless, wore dungarees all weekend and were easily the best on ground in the fashion stakes. They were also lucky to avoid lengthy sentences if the fashion police had turned up.

Big thanks to Hoody, Daryl and all the Geraldton Longboard Club people who did another outstanding job of hosting the event in a location that other clubs wouldn't dream of. Big thanks to Chicky who kept everyone fed with tasty burgers, coffees and homemade soup. Big shoutout to all the judges, announcers, timekeepers, and water patrol who kept us all safe and picked up the broken boards.

Once again, the Winter Sun Hotel hosted the presentation night. The beers and tears flowed as Bruce Montgomery gave an emotional retirement speech as he was hanging up the shaping gear. Anyone who has a BM board better hold on to them as they are now a collectors' item. Bruce is a founding member of the club and has contributed more than 20k of sponsorship over the events 17 year history – what a legend!

As the speeches and prize draws drew to an end, Chicky's monster cream and sponge cake came out. Two slices later we were back in the car heading to Coro to finish off the wine and wake up bleary-eyed to another perfect surf.
Bring on Gero 18.

-    Cheers, Marty Ferrier


Solid rights, punchy lefts.
Photos by John Chisholm & Kerrie Littlefield Scott


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