24 of the country's top boardriders clubs have descended on Newcastle Beach for the opening day of the 2019 nudie Australian Boardriders Battle National Final. It was an epic day of action as an array of past and present WSL Championship Tour competitors ripped into clean 4-foot waves.
Former Championship Tour star Bede Durbidge showed that he hasn't slowed down in retirement as he posted the highest single wave score of Day 1, a near perfect 9.80 (out of a possible 10). Competing in the Masters Round, Durbidge demolished a right-hander with his trademark smooth style to put his Point Lookout Boardriders, (North Stradbroke Island) in a strong position on the leaderboard.
"I love this weekend," Durbidge said. "Representing all of the great people from North Stradbroke Island is amazing. It was cool to come up against Kai Otton (former CT surfer), it was just like a heat on tour. It's great to have the jersey on again - I'm feeling really good and it's nice to know I can still post solid numbers."
2019 Women's CT Rookie Macy Callaghan did her North Shelly Boardriders proud, posting an epic 9-point-ride for two huge backhand hits. Callaghan looked comfortable despite rating the pressure of this event higher than surfing for a world title, of which she owns one (2016 World Junior Champion).
"There is a lot of pressure to perform at this event," Callaghan said. "Not from the club but from myself - Because you don't want to let the club down. All of these people show me so much support when I'm competing around the world so I really want to do them proud. It's an amazing atmosphere here with all of the clubs getting behind their surfers. The waves are really fun as well which makes it so much better."
Only a few months into his retirement, 2012 WSL Champion Joel Parkinson today found himself back in a contest jersey doing battle for his beloved Snapper Rocks Surfriders. Parkinson looked in good rhythm as he put his club in a good position leading into Final's Day as they hunt for a third ABB title.
"I didn't think I'd be back in a jersey for a while but this is what you do for your club," Parkinson said. "It's cool surfing in the Masters division now and letting the young guys and girls represent the club. It's always so good to come here and do Snapper Rocks proud."
2017 CT Rookie of the year Connor O'Leary landed a mammoth front side air to take out his opening heat for Elouera Boardriders Club (Cronulla). After a few years on the QS and a couple competing on the CT, O'Leary believes this is one of the best events to compete in.
"Having the opportunity to compete with and for your close mates is so much fun," O'Leary said. "There are so many guys and girls that come out of the woodwork from around the country and rip so hard so it's just fun to watch the high standard of surfing. It's also great just having a team atmosphere as we don't get to much of that in surfing."
2019 CT Rookie Soli Bailey surfed an extremely patient heat waiting for over 15 minutes to make his major move. The Byron Bay Boardriders representative eventually posted an excellent 8.60 for a series of backhand hooks as he uses the high quality of competition to prepare for his first season on the Championship Tour.
"I was really nervous in that heat," Bailey said. "I kept thinking I was going to fall and then I would so I needed to stop and compose myself. I love representing Byron Bay and showing people around the country the high quality of surfers we have in the town."
It wasn't all about the CT surfers on day one with Carl Wright (Phillip Island Boardriders Club), Jarod Howse (Seaford Boardriders Club) and Merewether Surfboard Club ‘s Philippa Anderson all having big wins for their clubs.
Today's individual results in the Oakley Open Men's, Hyundai Open Women's, Woolworths Juniors and AirAsia Masters divisions set the seeding order for tomorrow's team's finals and are crucial in deciding which clubs surf against each other in the knockout nudie team's format which will ultimately decide the 2019 nudie Australian Boardriders Battle Series National Champions.