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  • Writer's pictureWill Boddy

South Arm Board Riders "Summer Classic" 2021

There were more than a few dusty heads and sandy beds this morning following the annual South Arm Board Riders (SABR) “Summer Classic” surf competition which took place on Saturday in sloppy, less than admirable conditions at North Clifton Beach.

In the challenging and unpredictable 1-1.5m swells, the conditions stuck around for most of the day as ominous cloud cover and precarious winds teased surfers and spectators alike in what turned into a memorable and spectacular day of surfing, live music and entertainment.

Competition officials made the call to hold the event at North Clifton early on Friday afternoon and were met with a bare-bones crew at the crack of dawn the next day. Come nine o’clock, the crowds were trickling in, the drawcards were finalised, and the officials sounded the first horn soon after.

A total of 54 entrants – more so than the famed West Coast Classic, this, according to SABR club President Ed Lawrence – made up a total of 11 heats, with the judging and line-up run using the progressively popular Eddie Aikau format.

This modified “Eddie” format saw groups of four to six surfers from any of the three age divisions – open men, open women and juniors – enter the water at once for a total of 15-minute heats, competing against one another for waves, however, each surfer keeps their two best scoring waves, which then count toward their respective division score at the end of the day.

Technically not in opposition to those in their heat, just those in their division, the method was a relatively new concept for many older competitors coming out of the woodwork, and with the less than favourable conditions, those two highest-scoring waves could essentially fall to anyone.

Image courtesy of Ange Nordstrom

Upon the first glimpse of the conditions, entrants were sceptical of the small, crumbly and dysfunctional nature of what Clifton Beach served up, but some avid free-surfers like Matt Kennedy, Kyle Cooper and George Vanderkelen whet the appetites of on-lookers before heats even began.

The first few heats in the water made the best use of what little wind there was, with youngsters like Milo Langford, Ava Frey, Lochi Johannesen and Jess Gardner facing some of the older crew in the likes of Will Boddy, Marti Paradisis, Finn Whitla and Jake Fasnacht.

By heat four and five, the competition was in full swing, as head judge Stella Gibson had her work cut out for her, with surfers from all ages keeping one another accountable. The main attraction at the time was seeing Noah Hassett, Johno Nordstrom and Charlie Gibson splitting peaks for the entirety of their heat.

Next up, the star-studded line-up of Brad Jackson, Luke Johannesen, Howard Groves, Sam de Salis and Molly Windfeld-Petersen got the crowd on their feet, and in the following heat, Denzil de Salis wrangled the highest wave count, riding every one into the shore, while Flemmo taught a lesson or two on his trusty longboard.

Kate Brown, Kelly Nordstrom and Rudy Davis were no match for little Marvin Freeman, who, with his all-important and stylish Gath helmet, showed the older surfers how to bust the lip in the small, shreddable conditions.

Nearing the end of the day’s heats, Tassie women’s surfing legend Dara Penfold did as she does best, washing her adversaries away, and in the following heat – and one of the highlights of the day – Instagram legend and all-round top bloke Habbatron tried his might against local young guns Lily Vanderkelen, Matilda Heddle and Toby Lawrence.

The rounds concluded with washed-up boardriding prodigy Hamish Renwick being fiercely hassled for waves by Poppy Gale and Grace Hassett, while Ollie Bowe opened the heat strong on his backhand, and when the final siren indicated the end of proceedings, a huge round of applause rang out through the crowd in support for such a fantastic day of surfing and the coming together of the community.

Image courtesy of Ange Nordstrom

Before the majority of the crowds dispersed, judges, organisers and volunteers thanked the many entrants for their involvement and recognised the hundred or so people who were present watching from the shore, mentioning that the results would be handed down later that evening at the Clifton Beach Surf Life Saving Clubrooms, along with a live band, barbeque, beers and membership signup.

With an even larger crowd gravitating to the clubrooms in the evening – mainly for the socialising and entertainment – an abridged award ceremony took place, with a few gift bags handed out to the groms, but in the spirit of the event’s relaxed nature and inclusiveness, there were no real winners or losers, just a fun and enjoyable day out for all.

Following the presentations and some encouraging speeches from the SABR President, Ed Lawrence, he mentioned the contest and SABR as a whole couldn’t function without its supporters, but most importantly, its committee members like Director Finn Whitla, organisers Richie Hassett and Ange Nordstrom, Treasurer Guy Vanderkelen, Junior Coordinator Dan Gardner and coaches Kelly Nordstrom, Matt Kennedy and Luke Bugg.

Image attained from the SABR Instagram page

Once everyone was adequately rewarded and thanked, the soppiness subsided, and while the evening was still young, local rock band titans “Poolboi” kicked the party off, playing many of their original songs, including their extremely infectious and sing-along track “Annie Mae”.

Following the sultry tones of the live band, the night really kicked into gear as local DJ duo Charles Ward and Samuel Ross – off the back of two massive weekends opening for Hayden James and then What So Not – had everyone on their feet dancing, rinsing it into the wee hours of Sunday morning.

Images attained from both "Poolboi" and Renee Little's Instagrams

SABR would like to thank all those who made the amazing day possible, everyone that took part in the competition, the sponsors, the dedicated parents, bands, cooks and bar staff, and encourage anyone living in the area or those that want to be part of a socially active and inviting board riders club to get in touch through their Facebook and Instagram page.

Finally, some of the SABR team members will now be preparing to make the trip up to Marrawah on Tasmania’s west coast for the prestigious “West Coast Classic” over the March long weekend. The event takes places from March 6-8 and is open to anyone interested in tackling the rugged and unpredictable swells common to the area.

All are encouraged to make the trek west, show their support and get amongst the thriving surfing community of the southern-most Boardriders Club in the world.

Image attained from SABR's Facebook page

Copyright © Will Boddy 2021

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