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Why Australia's Boardriders Battles Matter

There's a gathering of the tribes this weekend in Newcastle, Australia, for the nudie Australian Boardriders Battle National Final. It's the culmination of a series of qualifying events between local surf clubs that have run across the country. This weekend one club in Australia will reign supreme, taking home the bragging rights that go along with it.

Steph Gilmore winning heat 6 of round 1 of the Womens division at the Nudie Australian Boardriders Battle Final. World Champions like Stephanie Gilmore are always willing to wage battle for their local club. WSL / Ethan Smith

Much of Australia's competitive success on the world stage can easily be attributed to the boardrider club phenomenon. The country's coastline is littered with clubs that host grassroots competitions for surfers across age groups and disciplines one weekend per month. At spots like Snapper, Margaret River and Torquay, to name a few, these can be quite competitive. For numerous Aussie icons, Boardriders contests were their first tastes of competition.

Sabre Norris Representing Merewether Boardriders at the 2017 ABB Young surfers like Sabre Norris carry the weight of their entire town during these high-pressure events. WSL / Tom Bennett

These clubs have a long rich history of competing against each other with a variety of different formats, including individual, skins, and tag-team. In the tag-team-style event, each club has a team of five surfers, including one junior (male or female), three open-age men, one open age woman and one surfer over 35 (male or female). This team has one hour to compete against other teams with only one surfer in the water at a time, After this surfer scores their wave, he or she runs up the beach and into the gates to tag the next teammate, who then goes out to get her wave. At the end of the hour each team tallies their scores to determine the winner.

Stuart Kennedy placed second in heat 2 of round 1 of the Skins division at the Nudie Australian Boardrider Battle Final Stuart Kennedy laying it on the line for his squad. WSL / Ethan Smith

Because these events are a great chance to mentor today's youth and support grassroots surfing, the WSL sanctions these events, allowing Championship Tour stars to compete. Some clubs have surfers as young as 11, who get the chance to paddle out and compete against the world's best. The prize money is split among the clubs, who can then invest in facilities, equipment and development programs for their surfers.

Merewether Boardriders Cheering on their boy Ryan Callanan The Merewether Boardriders cheering squad. WSL / Tom Bennett

It also means that surfers who don't normally compete in WSL events may be paddling out to fight for their club. Last year we had heats that saw Craig Anderson (Merewether) up against Joel Parkinson (Snapper Rocks) and Nathan Hedge (North Narrabeen) surfing for their club and the ultimate bragging rights.

Watch the event LIVE on here on WorldSurfLeague.com

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