Best of the WestEzzy Surf Sail Margaret River Wave Competition
7 February 2009
The wind and wave gods have smiled on the wavesailing competitions this season. Although Lancelin had light winds, Greenhead and Margarets had perfect conditions for the wave competitions.
At Margaret River the sets were well over mast high by mid afternoon, with the wind at 20 knots southerly to south east during the day. Perfect conditions for some big wave action and to get the adrenalin pumping. It's quite an invigorating feeling when you are halfway up the side of a 2 storey high, blue monster, with 30 tonnes of pitching lip near the top of your mast!
Drama unfolded immediately when the first green flag went up and novice competitor Lindsay Dove crashed out in front of a mast high set. His uni broke, followed quickly by his mast. His board was washed into shore and the rescue inflatable was despatched to retrieve Lindsay and his rig from the middle of the bay. The remaining three novice competitors had about 30 minutes of free sailing time before the heat re-commenced. Matt Gwynne, only 13 years old, took the honours with some courageous turns on big faces. Alex Bertrand was second and Stephen Teckenoff was third. Credit goes to all these sailors for getting out amongst these taxing conditions.
The open division was up next and James Dinsmore (UK) and Robert Baldyga (Poland) had a very close heat with James getting a monster wave ride right at the end of the heat. It took him to within one point in a split decision but Robert went through to the semis with better waves earlier in the heat. In the other heat Patrick Fesi was up against Nicola Terenzi from Italy. Nicola was unable to find enough good size waves and Patrick excelled with several courageous rides to advance through. Dries Crauwels (BEL) and Ben Newson, both fresh from success at Green Head were seeded through the first round and met Robert and Patrick in the semis.
The wind had filled in and now jumps were to be included. Dries and Robert were very close with a split decision from the three judges. Robert was slightly ahead on wave rides but Dries landed some big loops which gave him the victory. In the other semi Ben was on fire (he is a fireman by the way!); he had some big scary wave rides and a clean push loop and forward to take the heat. Patrick couldn't find the big waves from his first heat and was relegated to the 3rd versus 4th sail off. In that sail off both sailors only found two waves but Patrick got the bigger ones and although Robert pulled off a high forward and a stylish shovit it was Patricks wave rides that got him third place. In the open final Ben got some of the biggest waves and also scored well with push loops and back loops. Dries's waves were smaller and although he did some clean high forwards they just fell short of the task and Ben was the winner.
The womens division also saw some drama when Karin Jaggi (Switzerland)went for an insanely late upside down aerial on a mast high wave two thirds through the heat. She snapped her mast and the rescue inflatable was out again. Katie McAnena (Ireland) showed great courage going hard on a big wave as well and was trashed but managed to come out unscathed and into second place. Karin fortunately had done enough to win the division with some big rides and a nice clean back loop despite having a nice swim for the last five minutes of the heat. Lucy Robson (UK) played it safe and rode the smaller waves, keeping off the big wave faces which preserved her equipment but unfortunately left her in third place.
The masters went out next and John Grulich generously forfeited his heat so he could keep the competition rolling from the judging platform. John Koch sailed against Bjorn Hagen, a long time racer and a newcomer to the wave competitions. Great to see Bjorn taking on the Margaret river conditions. John's experience showed through and he advanced into the final four where he met now Bunbury local Serge Pillonel. Serge won through to the final with some big rides and good forward loops. In the other heat Allan Gwynne defeated Geoff Golder who suffered from a lack of jumps. Geoff and John sailed off for 3rd and 4th with Geoff getting better rides to take 3rd spot. Allan outrode and outjumped Serge to take the honours with some big fearless spays off the mast high sets.
The swell seemed to build even more and the wind obligingly swung more offshore for the elite division. Although only four sailors entered the division it was going to be a spectacle with big wave specialist Simon Peters, world class Peter Volwater, International competitor Ivan Zecca (ITA) and local wave guru Justin Stock hitting the mast and a half high sets with no apparent regard for their equipment or their bodies. They all went BIG! Justin met Peter Volwater in the first heat and despite some great rides it was always going to be an uphill battle for Juzzo. Peter's fearless attack on the biggest pitching faces and a very high late forward and monster back loop took Peter to the final. In the other heat Ivan's fast and furious wave riding with hard snappy turns almost got him through but Simon's big loops won the day. Juzzo was up against Ivan in the 3rd/4th sail off and got the better wave scores to take third place. Simon and Peter fittingly carried out the battle of the giants. Simon won in the jumps department but Peter hit the biggest critical wave faces and pulled off some big aerials. One of Simon's back loops was so high that when I heard a non-windsurfing spectator say "oh my god" I turned around to look and he was still going upwards! In the end it was Peters wave courage that won the day however.
The presentations were held at the Knight's Inn in Margaret River where competitors enjoyed great meals and some designer beers as well. Thanks go to John Grulich who organised and ran the event, to Mark Taylor at Surf Sail for generous sponsorship and to Simon Peters who provided and drove the rescue boat. Justin Stock helped with the rescues and most of the sailors helped out with the judging. Thank you all for helping make this a great event.