Some of the nation's best boardriders clubs went toe-to-toe today as the nudie Australian Boardriders Battle National Final got underway in near-perfect four-to-six foot lefthanders at Newcastle City Beach.
After catching handful of mind-blowing barrels in the recent swell on the Gold Coast, Mitch James (Kingscliff) flew to Newcastle with a hankering for a tube. James found one of the best waves seen all morning in his Oakley Open Men's heat, tucking into deep backside tube that was followed by a handful of powerful snaps and carves. As a result James was rewarded with an excellent 8.75 that allowed his to take a victory ahead of local and WSL Championship Tour (CT) surfer Ryan Callinan (Merewether).
"I was surprised that wave popped up and came my way as it doesn't usually happen in heats," said James. "After going right at Kirra all week, I felt a bit confused going left in the heat, but it was such a perfect wave. It feels even better to get a win against someone like Ryan. It keeps the whole event interesting."
2020 WSL CT surfer Connor O'Leary (Elouera) showed the same level of talent that won him the 2017 WSL Rookie Of The Year, smashing the lineup apart for his local Elouera Boardriders Club in the Oakley Open Men's heat. O'Leary synced his forehand attack with the long lefts on offer in the heat, linking together a chain of powerful snaps and carves to finish the heat with an excellent 8.10 wave score and a heat win for his local club.
"That was so much fun out there," said O'Leary. "It's not that common to get waves this good for an event, so to pick off a few lefthanders that had nice open face was an amazing feeling. This event is such a blast and you get to hang with and surf alongside your friends, but you still feel the pressure to surf your best as you're representing the club, not just yourself."
Perennial nudie Australian Boardriders Battle star Macy Callaghan (North Shelly) flew the flag loud and proud for her native Central Coast club, drawing out a variety of technically sound backhand manoeuvres. The WSL CT surfer made it known she was keen for victory as she was rewarded with an excellent 8.25 wave score that netted her club the second victory for the day.
"This is one of my favourite events of the year," said Callaghan. "There's such a different feeling to surf and be part of a club that cheers you on and supports you all year. I find it's always best to get a wave as quickly as I can in this team format as it takes the pressure off and allows you to shake the nerves."
Former Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach CT runner-up Adam Robertson (Torquay) flew the flag for the Victorians, dominating his Air Asia Masters heat. Robertson surfed impeccably in the stellar heat, finding a long left hander that allowed him to perform a mix of turns and notch up the highest wave score of the day, a near-perfect 9.35.
"The Masters division is so stacked and I knew all the guys out there had the capability to get good scores, so I had to make sure I got a decent score," said Robertson. "Surfing for your club is one of the best things you can do in this sport and to do my club proud is something I and everyone in the team really want to do."
All heat winners in the Oakley Open Men's, Hyundai Open Women's, Air Asia Masters and Woolworths Juniors claimed themselves valuable seeding points and prizemoney ahead of the nudie Teams event tomorrow.
Now in its seventh season, the nudie Australian Boardriders Battle is the country's biggest grassroots boardriders event, involving more than 60 of Australia's best boardrider clubs and $110,000 in prize money.
The series is officially sanctioned by the World Surf League (WSL), which allows Australian WSL Championship Tour surfers (Men and Women) the opportunity to represent their local boardriders club at respective State qualifying events and the National Final.
Adding to the high stakes at the State qualifying events will be two speciality awards. The Oakley Prizm Performer will be awarded to the standout surfer, while the AirAsia Big Air will be presented to the surfer who does the biggest and best aerial manoeuvre at each event.
The 2019/20 nudie Australian Boardriders Battle is proudly supported by nudie, Oakley, Woolworths, Hyundai, AirAsia, 2XP, WSL, mySURFtv, Fox Sports and Surfing Australia. More information here - australianboardridersbattle.com