Twenty four boardriders clubs and their surfers from all over Australia are descending on Newcastle Beach for this weekend's nudie Australian Boardriders Battle Series Final. The clubs have been chosen through their regional qualifying events and now all that's left is to decide is who's Australia's best Boardriders club.
Boardriders clubs make up the backbone of many Australian surfing communities and are the places where some of the World's best surfers get their first taste of competition. The nudie Australian Boardriders Battle is a great indication of the calibre of surfers that began their careers in this grassroots format.
Representing her home-town Boardriders Club of Culburra is Reigning Women's World Champion Tyler Wright. Culburra is a reasonably young club but has been represented at the national final for the last three years. Regardless of its age, Wright and her teammates couldn't be prouder to pull on the contest jersey for their South Coast home and are excited for the event's new location at Newcastle Beach.
"Having the Boardriders Battle in Newcastle this year will be a totally different experience - I'm excited for the change," Wright said. "A Boardriders event is really different for me with the unique format. It is always cool as it sets this event apart from any other event - all of a sudden it's a team effort, rather than just you, doing what you do."
A team that is always a serious threat is the 2014/2015 Australian Boardriders Battle Champions, Snapper Rocks Surfriders Club. With names like 2012 World Champion Joel Parkinson and six time Women's World Champion Stephanie Gilmore on their team sheet it is not hard to see why they are always a favourite to take out the Final. Gilmore can't wait to hit the water in Newcastle and do her team proud.
"It's not too often we get to compete in a team environment like this weekend so you definitely look forward to it," Gilmore said. "Everyone wants to win for each other and their club as a whole. Being crowned the best boardriders club in the country is a pretty big bragging right and Snapper would love to become the first club to win three nudie Australian Boardriders Battle National Titles."
In 2016 Snapper Surfriders Club un-characteristically bowed out of competition just short of the Finals. Joel Parkinson put up a great fight for his team but it wasn't quite enough to see them come home with a win. Parkinson is looking to make amends for this at Newcastle but knows that it will be tough with the competition that will be in attendance.
"We (Snapper Rocks Surfriders Club) are keen to make amends for last year because we didn't feel like we ever really got going," Parkinson said. "It's going to be a really tight competition, I got a look at some of the other team lists and there are some unbelievably good surfers registered."
A new team on the event draw in 2017 is Avoca Boardriders Club which it self houses a couple of CT surfers. World No. 5 Matt Wilkinson and No. 15 Adrian ‘Ace' Buchan will be heading up the Avoca team at Newcastle, a place that saw Wilkinson kick off his breakthrough year in 2016.
"The nudie Australian Boardriders Battle series Final this year is just before the Newcastle QS6,000, so I'm going to get to spend a bit of time in one place, which is always nice," Wilkinson said. "The Battle itself is a pretty fun event - there's always heaps going on and people are there for a good time. Putting that team aspect into surfing is awesome."