Surfers claim titles with late runs
EMERALD Beach surfer Harley Ingleby put on a five-minute Master Class of long board surfing to claim the Australian Longboard Surfing Open title in Kingscliff on Wednesday.
The two-time world champion came from behind to record rides of 9.17 and 8.0 to win the hotly contested final in small waves at Dreamtime Beach, Kingscliff.
Frenchman Antoine Delpero had started strongly with rides of 6.83, 7.0 and 7.4, and looked the early winner until Ingleby came over the top near the death.
Ingleby impressed judges with a long hang five, before a rare clean tube top turn just minutes later saw him clinch victory.
First semi-final winner Antoine Delpero was relegated to second while his brother Edouard Delpero, who took the second semi, finishing third with Australian Nic Jones finishing in fourth.
Current world champion, Brazilian Phil Rajzman was knocked out in the first semi-final after looking dangerous, while local hope, Kingscliff's Dean Bevan, just missing a finals birth, finishing third in the second semi-final.
"It's always a tough line up in Kingscliff. There (were) really good waves out there but I didn't really manage to find any excellent scores until those last two of the day,” Ingleby said.
"(I'm) definitely glad to have got waves at the end and secure my second win in this event.”
In the women's draw, Japanese surfers continued their domination of women's longboard surfing in Australia this year with Natsumi Taoka taking out the Longboard Qualifying Series (LQS) crown.
Taoka came out firing in the final, securing a 7.83, forcing the rest of the field to play catch up.
Southern Californian Lindsay Steinriede held on to second for much of the event, opening her account with a 5.83.
However current world champion Tory Gilkerson came home strongly in the final five minutes with a good ride, hanging five to score a 6.67 to give her second and put her in striking distance. But it wasn't to be and she finished second with Steinreide third and Rachael Tilly fourth.
"Before the heat, I was very nervous but I got good waves early and I could relax,” Taoka said.
"I tried a hang ten and I made it so I'm very happy.
"This is the second time I've competed in Kingscliff and I lost in the semi-final last year.”
Australian Longboard Open organiser Sean McKeown was pleased with the field of professional surfers taking part in day one of the four-day event.
He said the event had attracted some of the best surfers in the world.
"It was fantastic to see the high calibre of surfers here at Kingscliff - we had the best longboarders making it all look so easy,” he said.