Down the line wave sailing in Victoria, Southern Australia, has made this perhaps the event of the year so far. You might be shouting at the screen "RBSC, RBSC, RBSC" but when it comes down to it, which one would 99% of us prefer to compete in. Incredibly well organised, great conditions and an awesome video. Check out our exclusive round-up feature packed with cool photos, results and web-clip that puts many to shame. Words by Al McLeod.
...‘best beach break I’ve ever sailed’ and ‘one of the best nationals I can remember’ – everyone was stoked to have made the effort and scored!
For the first time in 15 years the Australian Wavesailing titles returned to the diverse coastline of Phillip Island in Victoria's South East. Running from 1-9 March, we scored epic conditions - culminating at Woolamai Beach on finals day for some of the best beach break windsurfing anywhere on Australia's South Coast.
Registration day – all the competitors arrived and got signed up before heading down to Woolamai for a surf. It was great to see mammoth efforts from the likes of the Walker family, Kym & Martin making huge drives to show up at Phillip Island.
A solid long range ground swell filled in across Phillip Island on Sunday, lighting up all the reefs in the Cat Bay region. Everyone got out and made the most of the awesome weather and great waves.
With no wind forecast at Phillip Island, the event was moved to the back up location Sandy Point. The warm temperatures, sunshine and easterly airflow provided all of the elements necessary to accelerate the cross-offshore wind. With waves anywhere between shoulder and logo high the conditions delivered for the first round of competition. After a couple of days of surfing to warm up, many sailors were pushing hard, with full speed late hits and floaty aerials being the order of the day.
Glassy, offshore conditions for most of the day saw all of the beach breaks firing across Phillip Island. Everyone made the most of the excellent surf, particularly at Woolamai. The sand banks were lined up nicely, which had everyone licking their lips at the prospect of windsurfing Woolamai later in the week.
Competition resumed on Wednesday at Cat Bay – one of Phillip Island’s premier windsurfing locations. This place normally requires a big ground swell to really fire though, so conditions were not amazing but still decent overall. The masters, amateur, junior and women’s divisions made the most of it. With junior Nic Walker being a stand out, ripping into some nice sections over the shallow rocky bottom.
After 5 days of being in the water, everyone was ready for a break! Whilst there were still small waves on offer for those who wanted to get wet, a decent crew opted to head to the Go Kart track. The track is a scaled down version of the famous Phillip Island Grand Prix track, sitting right along side overlooking the beach below. Special mention goes to Shane ‘Fino’ Finnigan for consistently locking down the fastest times!
With a fair bit of competition complete but still no results locked in, the pressure was on Friday and Saturday to deliver. The morning showed a raw and heavy swell breaking over the shallow sand bars at low tide, but with the wind coming from the right direction it looked as though things would shape up for the afternoon. With some funky cloud around, the wind built enough to run a few heats before disappearing again. A few sailors including Ben Newson, Al McLeod, Hudson-Godfrey Smith & Ben Severne stayed out in the fluky conditions scoring some solid waves (and workings).
An early start was called after Friday hadn’t delivered the results we had hoped for and things kicked off by mid morning. Conditions at Woolamai served up 15-20 knots, cross off and heavy set waves to logo high smashing into the sand bars. It was certainly challenging and wave selection was key.
Running through the open Single elimination, Ben Severne emerged victorious over Stuey Martin. In the Masters division it was a closely fought affair between local John Jacob and visitor Shane Finigan, with Shane taking the win. Martin Batstone was sailing well in the amateurs, pushing some solid turns, taking the win over Sean Cleary.
In the Juniors, Nic Walker picked off an excellent wave to beat Single elim winner Lachie Bouillir in the super final. Straight out of the heat, Nic picked up his trophy and jumped back in the car with the rest of his family to make the 20 hour drive back home to school the next day!
With results locked down we kicked off into the Open & Women’s Double Elimination. Louise, Kym and Lisa all put in a great effort in the solid conditions with Lisa displaying great wave selection, making the most of the bigger set waves and taking the win.
In the Open Double the wind picked up, the tide filled in and the conditions really started to fire. Fighting through the ladder locals Andrew ‘Hock’ Hocking & Al McLeod came up against Duncan Osborne and James McCarthy-Price to decide who would make it into the final stages. James scored one of the best waves of the heat with decent turns and a solid aerial whilst Duncan pulled together some good rides to both move through and challenge Stuey Martin for 2nd place.
Stuey pulled together all of his years of experience, putting on a master class of hitting solid lips, advancing through to face Ben Severne again for the title. With the wind really filling in, a jump was added to the scoring mixing up the heat strategy for the final. Unfortunately Stuey went down and hurt his leg, getting caught in the straps, leaving Ben to rack up some great waves and a decent forward. Stuey did manage to pull it together on the waves but was not comfortable jumping leaving Ben to take the victory and his second successive Australian Title!
When the event wrapped up, everyone made the most of the epic freesailing, with the waves building to mast high.
As the sun set, calls were made like ‘best beach break I’ve ever sailed’ and ‘one of the best nationals I can remember’ – everyone was stoked to have made the effort and scored. Can’t hope for much more than that in an event.
Thanks to all the sponsors for making the event possible: SHQ Boardsports, NeilPryde, JP-Australia, Severne Sails, Core Boardsports, Hotsails Maui - Australia, Island Surfboards, Shoreham Solar, Flymount, K4 Fins, Goya & Wizmount.
Huge thank you to Col from Windsurf Australia for capturing the aerial images, Rob Pignolet for the video footage and Jodi from Whitecaps Photography for the stills on the ground.
Opens: 1st - Ben Severne, 2nd - Stuey Martin, 3rd - James McCarthy-Price
Masters: 1st - Shane Finigan, 2nd - John Jacob, =3rd - Jonathon Bouillir, =3rd - Martin Batstone
Amateur: 1st - Martin Batstone, 2nd - Sean Cleary, = 3rd - Harry Walker, = 3rd - Nic Walker
Junior 1st - Nic Walker, 2nd - Lachie Bouillir, 3rd - Harry Walker
Women 1st - Lisa Edlund-Tjernberg, 2nd - Kym Symonds, 3rd - Louise Bricknell