Hump day bump day as the swell kicks at Noosa
With ‘hump day’ came a bump in swell, the waves of yesterday afternoon continuing into the morning, and predicted to rise continually throughout the day.
The Salt Magazine Men’s 55 & Over repechage took to the water shortly after dawn, a light cross-shore wind creating just a little irregularity to the waves. Greg Piercy did well to hold onto second place, while Peter English took the first win of Day 5.
Paul Fleming, unlucky to have missed out in round one, must have been counting his blessings, with the stunning collection of waves gracing the point for his heat. Receiving some of the best of them, he surfed well against a strong heat to emerge on top, just ahead of Peter Bendle in second.
The Laguna Real Estate Men’s Open brought a touch of high performance surfing back to First Point, one fin exchanged for three by most of the competitors. That said, many opted for more traditional equipment, better suited to the First Point waves, among them Kaimana Takayama, who was once more in sensational form, and fellow Americans, Hudson Ritchie to win his heat from Englishman Connor Griffiths, and Reilly Stone, for a solid second place. Nic Jones surfed with textbook finesse, connecting rapid cutbacks with perfect noserides to absolutely decimate his final heat of round one.
Defending division champion, Hayden Swan was on form once more this year, surfing a superb heat to win the first of round three in the World Surfaris Men’s Open. The UK’s Chris Griffiths followed him in second, and Michael Takayama doing well despite suffering a minor back injury the previous day.
Owen Cavanaugh surfed in familiar form to take heat three, while American Rick Judalena was on a level all of his own, leading the pack for a definitive win to advance directly into Saturday’s final.
The New Age Caravans Logger Pro was simply breathtaking. All present at the beach were transfixed, as glassy, three-foot waves wrapped into First Point that were ridden to perfection by a swathe of some of the world’s most talented longboarders.
The eight heats of round three held sublime moments too numerable to mention. In an upset, local up-and-coming junior, Tom Morat bettered US stand-out Hudson Ritchie and the division’s reigning champion, Bowie Pollard. Taylor Jensen showed the talents that gained him the current world title, while Jared Mell’s distinct and entertaining style saw him sail to victory in the same heat that saw former division champion Sam Crookshank miss out on progression. Despite being in pain with a bad back, Matt Chojnacki show incredible competition knowledge, advancing from fourth to second in the dying seconds, and into the next round.
!6-year-old Hawaiian, Kaniela Stewart showed skill and experience far beyond his years, far out-scoring Dane Pioli, Fraser Biden and Ziggy Alberts in the penultimate, while Nick Farago made up the numbers in the fourth round later in the day.
Round three of the Laguna Real Estate Men’s Open saw now familiar names advancing, Nic Jones and Kaimana Takayama both winning heats to advance to the semis alongside Jesse Jerrems and JP Kaleopaa, while a great performance from Englishman Connor Griffiths awarded him a well-earned second.
The story of the day came in round four of the New Age Logger Pro. Noosa local, Zye Norris made a late charge to finish just behind the UK’s James Parry, former world champion, Josh Constable also flew the local flag and Matt Chojnacki surfed superbly to take second in heat three, but it was the heat’s winner about whom all tongues were wagging. Kaniela Stewart began his heat early on with a near-perfect 9.5 ride. With few other waves surfed by him in the heat, he turned and paddled into one of the cleanest and biggest waves of the afternoon. Hanging ten for a staggering amount of time, levitating high above the wave’s glass-smooth wall, he rode the wave with absolute perfection, quite literally as he was awarded a perfect 10 points for his efforts. The young Hawaiian could not stop beaming and it was certainly the highlight of the day, and quite possibly the festival thus far.
The Underground Surf Old Mal rounded out the afternoon, and Jared Mell was once more in peak form to move to the finals – the final step towards defending his title. Matt Chojnacki and Noosa shaper Thomas Bexon would join him from the first semi-final, while Jack Norton was undisputed in the second semi, Fraser Biden and Matt Schuler making up the numbers.
Tourism Noosa hosted a wonderful celebration of Noosa’s recognition as the tenth World Surfing Reserve at the XXXX Summer Beach Bar with the Sandflies providing a collection of surfy vibes to send another fantastic day at the Laguna Real Estate Noosa Festival of Surfing into the sunset.
With the swell predicted to rise yet further tomorrow, it was an early night for all.