The 30th birthday of the Taranaki Wave Classic was celebrated by 80 keen wavesailors and their families and friends. The lead-up week was mostly quiet wind wise, but on Thursday afternoon Kina Rd threw up some small junky swell (about head high on the decent ones) and plenty of locals and a few eager-beaver out of town TWC entrants got out there in the 18 knot cross-shore breeze to get what would turn out to be some sneaky practice for the first day of competition.
More TWC competitors rolled into town on the Friday eager for a good warmup session and after enduring a miserable day of rain and onshore wind a front finally passed over Taranaki, letting some blue sky through. By 4 pm Waitara was sailable if you liked gusty wind and random windswept waves blown in from the days storm activity. Quite a crowd assembled in the carpark and hit the long awaited Taranaki waves.
Saturdays forecast was for north-west wind, strengthening in the afternoon. All competitors met at Oakura Boardriders for the 10 am briefing and to pick up their awesome goodie bags: reusable, supercool graphics and equipped with the secret hidden pocket! There was no repeat of Beibergate with the TWC T-shirts; chest hair or not, these shirts were hip and styley for all. TWC 2013 also saw event hoodies come into production; they proved to be super popular and were noted by the fashion conscious amongst us as being of superior quality. Big thanks to OP and Spore for the awesome designs, and those who resisted the Belieber invasion from new skool types.
Gallery from the TWC…
The TWC circus raced down the coast about 11 am and as the wind was still only about 10 knots a wavesailing clinic was held by some of the expert sailors, giving both newer and more experienced wavesailors the chance to learn more about the intricacies of harness line length, bottom turning, local conditions and getting out through the break. This last subject was to prove especially useful as the break at Kina Rd was behaving erratically and not at all its normal self; to put it simply: waves were breaking everywhere! Rather than setting up nicely on the points and providing a user friendly channel the white water was often all over the place, making competitors have to work really hard to get over some solid walls of foam. Exciting stuff, both facing up to the larger sections and watching from the top of the sandhills!
Noel and Thomas gave it a try initially; Thomas borrowing Anton’s custom CA super tanker. Even with the mad amount of float, the large amount of water moving around made getting out through the randomly shifting break very tricky and getting a decent ride was a challenge. But by 2 pm the wind had filled in enough to encourage a few more sailors out and by 3 pm plenty of keen go-getters had snuck out the back (or been washed back into shore downwind). Sections up to mast-high were rolling through and Ferran Crespo, Chris la Franchie, Charles Dinnis, Mike la Franchie and James Court all scored some good rides, while James Court kept viewing interest at a high with a couple of heavy-duty rinsings during his solid afternoon’s sailing. TWC BBQ and beers kept competitors and spectator motoring along into the late afternoon but ultimately the wind never rose above 15 knots at its peak â€“ meaning the strong current kept sailors on their toes whenever they came inside the break.
Sunday saw the wind direction shift again and competition was moved out to Waitara. An easy launch and reasonable waves in the break meant everyone raced to rig big floaty gear and get into it, but even with large numbers of competitors on the water the wind refused to swing cross-shore or again get above about 12-15 knots. A few sailors revelled in the conditions with the standout waveride coming from Ferran Crespo, who pulled out a clew first spock, a flaka(?) and a grubby all on the wave face and all within three bottom turns.
In recognition of the TWC’s humble beginnings back in the 80s a retro sailing competition was also held. Mike la Franchie’s old school fibreglass board got some serious use, with a variety of competitors giving it a crack. Both LaFranchie brothers attempted to bring sexy back to windsurfing by wearing their wetsuits inside-out, resulting in some puzzled looks from those on the beach. Julien la Feuvre had his orange asymmetrical glass-board out, however the quoted volume was clearly less than stated. Spectators were left wondering if he was considering a career change to deep sea-explorer as he navigated the bottom of the Waitara sea floor in the orange submarine, and those who also gave it a try fared no better as they struggled to get their necks above water. This made for great viewing though.
Not to be outdone Jeff Sutton decided to get around the same issue with his old waveboard by taping it to a SUP in an ingenious scheme to get the required float. Other competitors have since lodged protests with the Taranaki Windsurf Club at Jeff’s “Oracle-esque” manipulation of the rules and his ‘hidden volume’ retro concept board.
As always the TWC prizegiving and party was a blast, apparently finishing relatively early according to one reveller, at around 3 am. Laurent and the team from Lahar Cafe in Okato provided great food and after the meal the TWC sponsors products were showcased with the dishing out of the spot prizes. A colourful new Carbon Art waveboard had adorned the wall for most of the weekend, so each entrant was primed for their name to be read out for the grand prize of the Carbon Art board of their choice.
A huge thank you goes out to all the sponsors who make the TWC event possible. These are Maui Sails NZ,Boardstore, AND distribution, Ocean Outfitters, Spore, West Coast Sails, Water Cooled Sports, Methanex,Port Taranaki, Stash It, BoardZone, Seventh Wave, Molly Woppy Cookies, Fitzroy Engineering, Oakura Beach Holiday Park and Heydon Priest.
Ross Johnson was super stoked to be the winner of the Carbon Art Waveboard; he has been doing the TWC mission for a few years now (coming over from the Coromandel) and gave a heartfelt speech thanking James and saying how much he enjoyed the event. Enjoy sailing your new board Ross!
There was some great sailing in challenging conditions over the course of the TWC event and for this the standout sailors were recognised, headed up by Ferran Crespo taking out the Number One spot; reflecting some dynamite sailing over the course of the weekend. Then it was into the partying with Julien DJing up a storm for the faithful into the early hours of the morning. Party gossip included one of the more youthful sailors struggling home, decorating the deck and waking up soaking wet after arriving home dry… a spot of sleepwalking perhaps? Taranaki’s local euro reps were not to be outdone, with the German rep rocking a shirt-off handi-towel nappy combo. Ferran celebrated his success in style with road cones and literally swinging from the rafters. Thanks to all those who partied hard in the hopes of bringing some wind in for the Monday.
The party sacrifice didn’t seem to have worked at first, as Monday started with some light westerly wind that got constantly nullified by the passing showers. However the sky cleared at about 2 pm and a decent seabreeze rocketed through, much to the delight of the visitors and locals alike. Fun head to logo high waves were pushing through the break with the incoming tide and all the sailors were able to enjoy some fun conditions to cap off a great long weekend. Many thanks to the Taranaki Windsurf Club and their team of supporters for all the organisation and hardwork; we look forward to another great TWC next year.
1 Ferran Cespo
2 Chris La Franchie
3 Paul Barron
4 James Court
5 Charles Dinnis
6 Chris Brown
7 Chris Norris
8 Thomas Davies
9 Olivier Perkins
10 Jeff Sutton
Youth: Luke Holliday
Women: Kate Ellingham
Major Prize’s Included:
Carbon Art Waveboard of choice! AND Distribution Vandal Enemy sail, Ocean Outfitters Naish Boom, Maui Sail NZ Legend 5.0, Bamboo Mast from BoardStore, Stashit Boardbag, SeventhWave retro wetsuit top, Westcoast sails quiver bag, Flymounts and K4 fins from Boardzone, vouchers from Watercooled