All across the worldnational and international titles are being awarded in various windsurfing disciplines. Epic conditionshavegraced the numerous windsurfing tours including the PWA, BWA, AWT and down under for the Australian tour too. On Boardseeker we start out 2012 round ups with a look at the Aussie wave champs and interview with the winners of the mens and womens titles.
Words by: Will Johnston and Jodi Stevenson
Photography by: White Caps Photography
Woolgoolga might be hard to wrap your tongue around but it is not hard to fall in love with this beautiful town that delivers both waves and wind. Situated on the northern coast of NSW on the east coast of Australia, 'Woopi' as it is locally known, is the location for this years Australian Wavesailing Championships.
The sand spit which joins the mainland to Flat Top Island is worthy of a ticker tape parade. The layout of the island and the spit means that most forecasts from the North are funnelled between the dunes and island, aligning the wind in almost perfect port tack wave-riding conditions with no headland to block the wind on the faces of the wave. There are no rocks just a peeling sandy beach break that grinds down the beach in a good swell and provides nice sections further down the beach. This works exactly the opposite way in Southerly winds and low and behold starboard tack wave heaven.
Sunday 30th September Competition starts
Conditions were slowly deteriorating so head judge Dean Hendrie decided to send the women fleet out first. Some of the female competitors were only able to compete on the weekend with pesky work dragging them away from the action. Despite the trying conditions, Jessica Crisp, Kate Barker and Mel Bienemann were first to hit the water for a 15 minute heat. Jess Crisp showing she still has those wave moves in the bag and advancing through to the winners final. Then the wind swung onshore and put a halt to competition for the rest of the day.
Waiting for wind is thirsty work 1 Tequila, 2 Tequila, 3 Tequila (Dance) Floor!
Fortunately for the competitors, competition director Will Johnston had pulled out all stops, with a cold keg of hand crafted beer Rainbow tapped and ready back at the main house to assist those in need of rehydration after a long day of waiting for the wind. Add to this a Mexican feast of epic proportions, Tequila, 5ltrs of home distilled rum and other spirits, all thoughts of the day were left behind to be replaced by epic stories of jumps as high as a mountain and waves the size of trees. The forecast for Monday looked average, so most kicked on far into the night. The night culminating in an epic strobe light party (to clarify the strobe light consisted of someone standing by the light switch and rapidly turning it on and off much to the dismay of those foolish enough to attempt to sleep nearby )
Tuesday 2nd Oct Competition fires up!
The competitors awoke to the pleasing sound of trees rustling as the 20knot SSE wind gradually built. Some got down there at first light making the most of the building Southerly and 3ft peeling waves. We hadnt been too lucky with the swell, but there was still plenty of action on the water in perfect cross-off, with competitors getting dialled into the spot before the competition started. Al McLeod (VIC) pulling off an impressive Goiter to set the scene and standard.
With everyone managing to work out a perfecttetris of cars at the tiny sandy 'car park', the marquee was up, the judges were ready, the score sheets flappingin anticipation, smooth tunes flowing and the wind blowing over peeling blue waves in one of the most picturesque natural environments, the day was looking good!
And what a day of action it was!
Battle of the Masters Blood, Sweat and Beers
First up was the Masters division, with 1 jump and 3 waves counting in 12 min heats. The right side of the ladder saw an on form Jason Juretic (NSW) nudge past last years masters champion, Warren Holder (NSW), with a big forward loop. Jason came back in fine form to take 3rd overall. Oli Barta (QLD) was keen to get back in the top masters spot after a loss to Warren Holder last year and was tearing up the waves.
The final was between Oli and Pat O'Connell (QLD). After pulling off nice loops in the heats, the Pat was struggling a little to get ramps as the wind got lighter and placed 2nd, Oli took him out with some big forwards and a Gu-screw in spectacular fashion.
Open Pros Return of the King
The story of the day was that of one Stuart “Stuey" Martin (NSW). Stuey has been out of the game for 10 years, shaping surfboards and really loving riding his boards with a kite. Last year Stuey went to the Nationals in Gerroa, but got knocked out early in the single elimination. This year however, it looks like he had been sailing a lot, as he tore up the singe elimination ladder. On his path to the final, was last year's Australian Amateur Champion Duncan Osborne (NSW), who was looking dangerous with some solid aerials and explosive cutbacks.
On the other side of the draw, Dan Berry (NSW) took out Matt Ruthren (NSW) and a raging Joel Ryan (VIC) - (he was going crazy with big moves, one hand backloops, nice forwards and shuvits) to claim his spot in the final. Dan is the wave selection master many people were heard joking of their new competition strategy “Follow Dan around and drop in on him". This helped him score good waves to tear to pieces with his vertical Polakaw-esk style. Also he is a flyweight so he can pull of backloops when barely planning.
Finally Stuey found himself facing Dan in the final. Tough competition but Stuey is no stranger to victory once whipping Robby Naish and a certain Dunkerbeck in the same 24hrs. In the final, both Dan and Stuey were on fire. When it all came down to the last minute of the heat the tension was palpable, even from the beach.
Dan gybes onto a wave out the back as Stuey heads through the break zone, keen to get one last wave in the dying moments. He is 50m up wind of Dan, and gybes on the same wave. Gasps are audible on the beach as surely this is interference!? But no, Stuey continues upwind, not interfering with Dan's wave. Everyone expects Dan to push him right upwind off the wave. But no, he bears away to hit the end section for a big cutback. Meanwhile, upwind, Stuey stalls, turns, pumps and gathers speed into his bottom turn. With only seconds to go, the wave looks to close out, and BAMN! He smashes through from under the lip into the flats with finesse. Shouts go up, trumpets erupt, all the women on the beach start throwing bras and underwear. He has done it solidifying the win with the last minute wave, adding to his big loop and good rides earlier in the heat to the win!
There are murmurs of discontent around the last wave, but count back of the scores shows even without the last wave, he was just ahead of Dan.
In the loser final Shane Finnigan (QLD) came out on top, just pipping Joel for 3rd and 4th respectively.
AMS Table Top heaven
The Amateur fleet had been running between the masters and pros draws. The stand out sailors soon rose to the top, with Aaron Constable (QLD) emerging victorious with some HUGE tabletops. One of the stand out moves of the comp was a tabletop right behind and above Luke Ballie (QLD), who was just bested by Aaron in the final. Luke races a lot of RSX and slalom, but it was awesome to see him tearing the waves to shreds, to take 2nd. Kirk Koster (QLD) showed his days at Currumbin Alley have paid off with some smooth riding to take 3rd.
Womens Waves to RSX to Waves
Kate Barker (NSW) and Mel Bienemann (NSW) had to battle it out to see who made it through to the final against Olympian, Jessica Crisp (NSW). Mel unfortunately had to leave so Kate put up a strong challenge against Jess. Showing in the better conditions she can wave ride very well, but Jess was too strong and with an amazing one handed table top (The Jesus Christ), solidified her 1st place position. It was terrific to see Jess back in the waves after competing in 4 Olympics. She was loving it and could have easily taken out most of the guys in the competition.
Open Pro winner Stuey One handed Forward Loop
Jessica Crisp ripping up the waves
Master overall winner Oli Barta
Juniors/Groms Young guns
No matter the conditions, these young guns sailed extremely well and it was awesome to see younger sailors getting out into the waves. They were going for big jumps and displaying some great skills on the wave with nice cutbacks and smooth bottom turns. Zach Coleman (NSW) put together a tactical heat getting lots of waves to earn him top spot, with Jake Juretic (NSW) 2nd and Lachlan Boullier (VIC), 3rd. Nic Walker (QLD) sailed well to take the top Grom and 4th in Juniors.
The competition was a complete success, with a solid result in great conditions. Thursday and Friday were looking pretty good but when the day came the wind never kicked in and everyone was left frustrated waiting and watching as the 10kn wind teased us. This meant no double elimination so the winners of the single elimination stood victorious!
The presentation ceremony was fun with some great prizes by the event sponsors. With DJ Timmy L on the tunes, the Rainbows flowed well into the night and so did the party. Everyone had a great week of fun, wind, waves, new friendships and new rivalries. The event came to a close with this profound statement -
“When you breath in you breath the wind “ David Johnston, 2012 Wavesailing Nationals Trophy designer/poet.
The organisers would like to sincerely thank Severne Sails, Starboard, Hot Sails Maui, Airsickness, White Caps photography, Josephmark, Australian Windsurfing Association, QLD Freewave Association, NSW Wavesailing Association, Dean Hendrie, Tim Williams, Chris Powell, David Johnston, Christine Ballinger, Ryan Kelly and all the others who helped along the way your help has been invaluable.
- Open Pro
- 1. Stuart Martin
- 2. Dan Berry
- 3. Shane Finigan
- 4. Joel Ryan
- 1st: Nic Walker
- 1st: Zac Colman
- 2nd: Jake Juretic
- 3rd: Lachlan Boullier
- Open Ams:
- 1. Aaron Constable
- 2. Luke Ballie
- 3. Kirk Koster
- Overall Masters Winner - Oliver Barta (Also placed first in Grand Masters age bracket - 45-55)
- 2. Pat OConnell (First in 35-45 Division)
- 3. Lloyd Ellis (First in Legends 55+)
- 1. Jessica Crisp
- 2. Kate Barker
- 3. Mel Bienneman
Open Pro winner Martin shredding the waves
... at the lip
The winning wave by Stuey Martin
Up close with Masters champion Oli Barta
Stu Martin 2012 Australian Wave Sailing Open Pro Champion
You haven't been windsurfing for about a decade, what have you been doing?
I have been kite surfing. (!!!) I was windsurfing professionally, based in Hawaii, but gave it away to pursue surf board shaping and start a business (Stuey Martin surfboards) back at home (Newcastle, NSW). I gave it away for 12-13 years.
What got you back into windsurfing?
Well I pretty much achieved what I wanted to do with kite surfing I won a few titles but then it seemed I couldn't go anywhere from there in Kite surfing. Then I saw some guys with new windsurf equipment and sailing in lighter conditions and decided to get back into it.
How did it feel after such a long break?
It felt really difficult, I found it hard. Fitness wise it was tough on my body and I basically had to learn how to jump all over again. There is a big difference to jumping a kite to a windsurfer.
What preparation, if any, did you do for this years event?
I tried to get out on the water as much as possible as I was still rusty as far as fitness goes. I had a crack at last years comp but got knocked out after the first heat. It just came together at the right time.
You did a one handed stalled forward? How did you pull it off?
To be honest it was weird. I saw the ramp and basically this is what I would have done in that situation in previous comps so yeah, I just went for it. Things slowly come back to you on the water.
You landed it, and it seemed like your confidence just soared out there from then on...
Yeah it did, after that heat everything just clicked, I could relax and enjoy the comp instead of hanging on.
You were up against some tough competition Dan Berry, Joel Ryan, Al McLeod and Shane Finnigan (to name a few), were you worried you would get knocked out early again?
I didn't have any expectations at all.
What gear were you on?
I use JP\NP I used 82ltr quad board, 5.1 Fly
I'll keep going, get involved again and do the State rounds. I regret giving it up in the first place. I'll definitely have crack at the title next year.
Jessica Crisp - 2012 Australian Wave Sailing Women's Champion
In the early to mid 1990s, Jessica was one of the most famous women in the world of windsurfing. Twice, in 1993 and 1994, she won the Professional Windsurfing Association's world title. On one occasion she achieved this feat despite the pain of a broken ankle which she sustained towards the end of the season.
At the time she was acknowledged as the best all round female windsurfer in the world. But after breaking fibula and tibia, doing a forward loop at the indoor event in Paris, her professional career was cut short. Unable to jump and therefore compete in wave sailing competitions Jessica decided to try the less impact side of the sport, Olympic sailing.
She has just returned from London and in a career turnaround entered the Australian Wave Sailing Titles.
Recently come back from London Olympics where you ranked 11 overall, how did you feel out there and about the result?
It was great to be competing at the London Olympics, the conditions were great and the racing was tight. Unfortunately things did not go my way but it was a real honour.
How does it feel to participate in 4 Olympics?
The special thing about doing so many Olympics is that I was asked to march in the front row at the opening ceremony and that was incredible!
When was the last time you wave sailed?
I cant remember the last time I wave sailed.
Why did you decide to enter this years Wave Nationals?
Patrik gave me one of their new waves boards to try out. I have always loved wave sailing but now after going out on this new equipment I am in love all over again all I want to do is wave sail!
Did you do any preparation for this event?
No, but it just shows once you are addicted to windsurfing your body just knows what to do.
What do you do to keep your fitness up\what kind of training?
Fitness for Olympic sailing is huge. I spend a lot of time in the gym lifting weights and doing a lot of cardio from hell to keep super fit. Now that the Olympics are over I have been very slack loving the couch ha ha!
Breaking your fibula and tibia (doing a forward loop at the indoor event in Paris in the 90's) - does that still affect your wave sailing today ?
I still have no feeling in my right leg around my ankle but it doesnt hurt when I land jumps anymore.
The first round of the Australian Wavesailing Titles was held in light S winds. Did those conditions make it easier to ease back into it or was it hard work out there?
I was just so excited to go wavesailing and Woolgoolga is such a fun wave I was happy to go out in anything I could wave sail 24 hours a day!
What gear did you use?
Patrik trailer wave 78 and Neil Pryde sails
Conditions were better the following comp day with 20-25knots S\SE, you were ripping it up, how did it feel?
It was fun to be planning and giving a few jumps a whirl. Luke and myself had a bet to do a Jesus Christ jump (one handed table top) I managed to do one but I think I have to get more gusty and tweak it more for next time ha ha!
Congratulations on winning the Womens division. Did you have a competition strategy? If so, how does it differ to your Olympic competitive strategy?
Thankyou! My wave strategy is to get the biggest waves and do as much on each wave as possible. Then once you have your 3 waves in and you still have time try and do something big on the next wave. It is all about getting the jumps and waves in. Wave sailing I am not concerened about what anyone else is doing I am just trying to do the best I can do. Olympic sailing is totally different as it is all about everyone else so it is a numbers game.
What's next for Jessica Crisp?
Lots of wave sailing and enjoying each day with my friends