Milking it to the sand with style. All photos: @surfshotsnoosa
Last year’s champ, Tommy Coleman from California in the Pacific Longboarder Under 15s Boys.
Local Liliana Bowrey firing in the Surf Yogis Girls Under 15.
Dean “Turbo” Bevan in the Open Mens, where anything goes.
Under 15 girls, what a champion crew! All photos: @surfshotsnoosa
3 March 19
A bright and sunny day welcomed surfers and spectators to the 28th annual Vonu Noosa Festival of Surfing.
Beginning the day, the Classic Malibu Men’s Under 18 was a true showcase of the future of longboarding, commencing proceedings in excellent form.
It was with little surprise that Hawaiian Kaniela Stewart dominated the first heat of the day. Last year’s highest heat scorer across all divisions and recipient of the only perfect ten score, Kaniela more than justified the accolade. Sunshine Coast locals Aidan Feeley and Kai Annetts also put on excellent displays of contemporary longboarding to progress directly to round three.
Heat one of the Surf Yogis Girls Under 15 was dominated by locals, talented wahines Luca Groh and Liliana Bowrey taking the one-two, but it was an international field that made up the numbers. Sophia Culhane, Kelis Kaleopaa and Hayley Otto all surfed superbly, Kelis and Hayley the ones to progress to the third round to avoid this afternoon’s repechage.
Tommy Coleman from California and Australia’s Landen Smales proved unstoppable in the Pacific Longboarder Magazine Boy’s Under 15, while the girls of the University of the Sunshine Coast Under 18 division were simply outstanding.
In particular, Noosa local Jade Gower showed incredible maturity, just pipped to the top spot by fellow Sunshine Coast surfer, Charlotte Lethbridge, Hawaiian Lola Schremmer was the undisputed leader from start to finish of her heat, and Avalon Gall showed that she has well and truly shunned the competition nerves we have seen hampering her in previous years, for a very successful win.
Meanwhile, Dennis Massoud was entertaining youngsters further down the beach with free sand castle workshops. World renowned for his incredible sand sculptures, Dennis will be with us all week to offer his expert coaching to kids in how to build the perfect sand castle.
In other parts of Noosa, Heads of Noosa Brewery opened its week-long exhibition of surf art. Owen Cavanagh, the Noosa artist and sculptor, is the man behind the event, curating dozens of artists in a superb showcase of surf art of all descriptions.
As the tide dropped out, the action heated up, and round one of the Halse Lodge Men’s Open took to the water. A fascinating display of high performance versus contemporary logging, the division was split evenly by the two distinctly different styles of surfing.
Maui’s Mau Ah Hee combined power with traditional manoeuvres to win confidently in the first heat, while fellow Hawaiian Kai Sallas was in blistering form, barely holding the lead all heat from a challenging Julian Schweitzer from Brazil.
A truly multinational division saw locals and visitors alike surf incredibly well. Amongst them, Sunshine Coaster Aidan Feeley opted for a high-performance approach for a great win, Japan’s Masaya Tsukamoto and Yuta Kajiwara claimed wins, and late entry Australian, Saxon Wilson, was unstoppable.
A second chance came in the junior divisions’ repechages, and the second and third-placers from round one did all they could, pushing their skills and the waves to their limits to gain progression.
The afternoon concluded with the senior women’s divisions of the Women’s 35-50 and 50 & Over enjoying the final waves of the day.
Always an incredibly strong surfer, here at the Noosa Festival and whenever she paddles out, Kristy Quirk surfed impeccably to take the crown of the 35-50 division presented by Cash Back App, with Franco-Victorian Eglantine Balland coming in a close second.
In the final heat of the day, the message of age being simply a number was cemented by the VA Women’s Over 50s. With the unfortunate absence of Maree Beare, the ladies shared many waves and much stoke, embodying the camaraderie of the festival at large. As the final horn of the day sounded, it was local talented surfer-artist Marnie Morat who took the biggest trophy home.
The evening’s sunset was enjoyed by many at the Vonu Beach Bar with the now-familiar opening ceremony of the Noosa Festival: the Welcome to Country from the local indigenous Kabbi Kabbi people and the paddle-out, to give thanks and blessing to the ocean, and to remember those lost over the past year, including Gold Coast longboarder Wayne Deane, and icon of Australian surfing, Scott Dillon.
With Band of Frequencies taking us into the evening with their impressive blend of funk-rock and blues, day one concluded with many smiles and good vibes.
For those wishing to revel into the night, Boomerang Bus Service was offering free transportation to the Thomas Surfboards Official Festival Opening Party.
With much revelry, excellent tunes from Dear Doonan and friends, and of course, plenty of Vonu beer, the night rolled on and the stoke continued.
- REPORT BY THOMAS ALEXANDER - NFOS