Clubs battle it out for title
SURF SCENE with Andy Mac
TWENTY FOUR of Australia's best boardriding clubs will battle it out for the fourth annual National Teams event at Newcastle this weekend to claim the prestigious title as the number one boardriding club and the lucrative $20,000 first place prize.
Snapper Rocks Surfriders Club has won two out of the four titles, winning the inaugural 2015 title and backing up for a consecutive win in 2016, before finishing runner-up last year to the ABC (Avoca Boardriders Club).
There are four Queensland clubs competing including Snapper, Burleigh, Point Lookout (North Stradbroke) and North Shore (Sunshine Coast).
To say that Snapper are keen to reclaim the National Teams title is an under-statement.
Despite not having their World Championship Tour pros Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore who are unavailable due to other commitments, Snapper has fielded a new generation team of potential champions.
"We have a very strong team of inform aspiring pros, led by president and evergreen Jay Phillips,” said Snapper coach and former world champion Rabbit Bartholomew who is assisted by club secretary and manager Bruce Lee.
Bartholomew was happy about the new Snapper line-up.
"I am excited about our young, hungry, super fit team,” he said.
Mitch Parkinson is their number one in the opens and is fresh from an impressive semi-final placing with fellow Snapper teammate Noah Deane at the Volcom Pipe Pro held in serious Hawaiian Pipeline waves. Mitch surfed at Newcastle last year and will be itching to lead Snapper to another win.
Joining Parkinson in the opens, is fellow Qualifying Series competitor Sheldon Simkus (semi-finalist at Maroubra) and Quinn Bruce.
Their junior rep is Dextar Muskens (who won first Pro Junior of the year at Bells.)
On the women's side, Kobie Enright is on a tear having won two WQS events so far in 2018 (Maroubra and Burleigh) and a runner-up at Cabarita. Enright has jumped up the WQS ladder from 22 to number seven. Enright is backed up by Alyssa Lock one of the nation's best female juniors.
Bartholomew expects intense competition from last year's champions Avoca: "The ABC will draw on their CT guys like Ace Buchan and Matt Wilkinson,” he said.
"Culburra will be a threat with the entire Wright family - two time women's world champion Tyler Wright, her CT brother Owen and younger brother Mikey.”
Bartholomew said the Point Lookout Boardriders of North Stradbroke Island with former CT pros Bede Durbidge and Ethan Ewing will also be tough, while Burleigh Boardriders created a huge upset by winning the Queensland state qualifier from Snapper.
"This is the best chance we have ever had to win this, said Burleigh president James Lewis.
"The Qld title was the first our club has won in nearly 30 years!”
Burleigh team will be Thomas Woods, Nick Callister, Liam Obrien, James Woods. Juniors Hinata Aizawa, Maddy Job. Women - Felicity Palmateer, Lucy Callister and Seniors former CT Pro Jay Thompson, and their Coach Kyle Robinson. Byron Hoskins is their manager
Point Lookout came so close to winning in 2016 despite missing Bede Durbidge who was texting frantic instructions from his hospital bed after he was sidelined from a grotesque Pipeline wipeout. Durbidge has retired from the World Tour and working for Surfing Australia as national coach. But Bede will be at Newcastle with bells on for his PLB club, including Ethan Ewing, Tim MacDonald, Luke Surawski and Zane Jenner. Stacey Baxter is their women's rep and their club president.
"The team is pumped and everyone is super excited to get down to Newcastle and give it their best. I think everyone in the team lifts with a competition like the ABB because we all seem to bounce off everyone's excitement,”
Club surfing is at the grass roots of Australian surfing making it so unique and one of the reasons Australia is so well drilled. But not every club has a womens President.
PLB created that precedent back in the 80's when the late Helen Ewing was the first Australian women's club president.
Following in that tradition is Stacey Holt Baxter who will be competing for the PLB team.
"I am very proud to be the PLB President and being the second female after Helen is a great honour. She was not only a fantastic role model for female surfing but also a wonderful mother and beautiful friend. There has and continues to be strong female presence not only in our board riders club but in our community as well.”
" I am super excited to be competing as well having the role of president. Our team is really close, we have all grown up together so I think that makes us stronger as a team and takes a little bit of pressure off.”
Last but not least is North Shore from Sunshine Coast led by former Snapper President and CT pro, Shane Bevan.