Image 1 for A Rise in Swell – Noosa Fest Day 3, photos & wrap

Local gun Nic Brewer jamming. All pics: @surfshotsnoosa

Image 2 for A Rise in Swell – Noosa Fest Day 3, photos & wrap

Emily Lethbridge full speed and toes over.

Image 3 for A Rise in Swell – Noosa Fest Day 3, photos & wrap

The great Hawaiian Kai Sallas finishing in the shorebreak.

Image 4 for A Rise in Swell – Noosa Fest Day 3, photos & wrap

Liliana Bowrey enjoying herself a little bit.

Image 5 for A Rise in Swell – Noosa Fest Day 3, photos & wrap

Honolua Blomfield gets set for a 100-metre run. All pics: @surfshotsnoosa

A Rise in Swell – Noosa Fest Day 3, photos & wrap

5 March 19


Those viewing First Point at dawn must have thought they were hallucinating. First Point, notoriously fickle on the high tide, was outdoing itself, with beautifully-groomed lines rolling consistently into Laguna Bay.

Former Noosa Malibu Club president Glenn Gower was first to take full advantage of the superb conditions, blazing through his heat for a confident win. Fellow Noosarian, Wally Allen, was also successful, but it was patience and a late drive that brought him to the top slot.

Rod Dale and Matt Fleming made up the numbers, while second and third place-getters of each heat would have another chance in tomorrow’s repechage.

The senior men of the Noosa Longboards Men’s 65 & Over paddled out next, surely pinching themselves at their luck to enjoy First Point in such perfection with only a handful of surfers. Albie Curtis and Eric Walker showed familiar form, both winning their heats, while Bruce Channon was unlucky to miss out to Keith Crocker, though again, would be able to try again in a repechage.

2017’s world champion, Honolua Blomfield, was at her always excellent best, holding patiently on the outside to maximise scoring potential. Challenged strongly by Californian duo Avalon Gall and Lauren Canavan, Honolua held firm for victory in heat one of the World Surfaris LadyLogger Pro.

And so followed the round, exceptional talent and feminine finesse leading to excellent victories, but also strong placings for second and third. Kirra Seale was in sublime form, outdoing stiff competition in the shape of Emily Lethbridge, the current world champ, Soleil Errico, successfully ousted yesterday’s Surf Yogis Under 15 champion Kelis Kaleopaa, and Mason Schremmer, Kaitlin Mikkelsen and Byron Bay’s Roisin Carolan shone the brightest in their respective heats.

Kai Sallas and Nathan Sadoun were successful in their Halse Lodge Men’s Open campaigns, while a strong Sunshine Coast contingent was also outstanding. Bowie Pollard and Victorian Ben Considine opted for more traditionally-inspired equipment in a division more often associated with high performance surfing, while young Aidan Feeley rode his lightweight three-finned board dynamically against surfers several years his senior.

One of the brightest performances came from Japanese surfer, Masaya Tsukamoto. Throwing himself with aplomb into every wave, Masaya skilfully navigated a daunting shorebreak, forhigh-scoring and highly impressive finishes. Leading from the start, he didn’t once relinquish that top spot for the entire heat.

The afternoon was a single-fin spectacular, with the Reef Hotel Men’s Logger Pro and round two of the LadyLogger.

The most anticipated and strongly-attended division, the Men’s Logger was the perfect showcase of contemporary longboarding, blending boards inspired very much by surfing’s halcyon days with powerful, skilful and progressive manoeuvres in what has been dubbed ‘beat’ surfing.

The new Beat Generation were indeed pushing boundaries, self-expression radiating. Hudson Ritchie incorporated vast amounts of flair to narrowly overcome Kai Sallas. Max Weston and Frenchman Edouard Delpero had a close-fought tussle, with Weston eventually finding the higher ground, while heat four was a three-way split. Kai Takayama, Tom Payne and Kai Hamase frequently exchanged positions, but it would be Hamase outdoing Payne in second and his namesake in third when the heat’s 20th minute concluded.

North Carolina isn’t the first destination one might think of for a high-class surf destination, but the former US champ from that state, Tony Silvagni, wasn’t going to let a little thing like that stand in his way of a glorious performance and subsequent victory.

Back for his first time since his win in 2015’s Duct Tape Invitational, Troy Mothershead made up for lost time and performed his iconic hang-tens through impossible sections for an undisputed heat win, while Sunshine Coasters Thomas Bexon and Bowie Pollard lead the charge for respective heat victories.

As Noosa musician Andrea Kirwin warmed up the crowd with her beautiful acoustic melodies at the Vonu Beach Bar, the LadyLogger Pro presented by World Surfaris was equally as pleasing to witness. Women’s surfing is defining itself in 2019, the ladies creating an absolute art form of their waveriding that is easily as impressive as their male counterparts.

Avalon Gall has come a long way since the nervous young lady we saw here a few years ago, and the young Californian outdid herself, overcoming a world champ in Honolua Blomfield on her way to a profound win. Kelis Kaleopaa did likewise. Still eligible for the Under 15 division, Kelis has stamped her mark on the longboarding scene. Growing up in Waikiki doubtlessly paying dividends, her style is straight out of the textbooks. Feet close together, oozing confidence, she perched gracefully on the very tip of her board before connecting glorious, sweeping cutbacks in a showcase of exemplary surfing – a true definition of beat surfing.

The last victory of the day went to Sierra Lerback, and what a victory it was. While the men may perform equally as well with power and hold, Sierra’s graceful footwork and world-class ability to read waves and execute picture-perfect manoeuvres with impeccable positioning both on board and wave placed her in a class of her own, despite suffering from heat stroke earlier in the day.

Men, women, young and old, day three was quite simply outstanding.

Taking advantage of the festival’s free bus service, many of today’s spectators and competitors flocked to Land & Sea Brewery, where a surf inspired trivia night was taking place. Fine food, great vibes and expertly-crafted local beer were the perfect combination for a relaxed conclusion to Monday’s proceedings.

 - REPORT BY THOMAS ALEXANDER / NFOS

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