No Spin To Win.
By Mickey Lewis.
Images: Riley Cain.
We all know in Cronulla they don’t do things by halves. The story below comes from first AAA division contest of the year, which looks like it will be tough to best!
Seeing a crazy swell lining up for Saturday July 18th and Sunday July 19th we decided to ask for Council Approval earlier in the week but with Covid we had to limit our numbers to 16 Competitors. We decided to run 4 x 4 person heats 2 x 4 person semi’s a 4 person final with the eventual winner taking home $500 cash from $50 per person to enter.
The Lifeguards knew the swell was going to be big so we needed a Risk Management Plan, had to complete an online Covid course, do the Heat Draw before the event, stagger the arrival times of Competitors plus have Social Distancing Signs on the Tent.
Saturday July 18th at 6am we all met in front off the Patch to suss out conditions. Things were still a bit messy and a bit too big to run the Comp after 4 days of strong southerly winds. The winds were light offshore but there was some 10 ft washthroughs so most Competitors decided to head to Cape where the lower tide would be better. We cancelled Saturday and decided to meet early Sunday!
Sunday July 19th at 5:30am we were greeted to some clean 4-6 ft ESE swell with light west winds. We decided to set up the tent and get the first heat suited up and out there straight away.
The first heat had Shaun Pyne, probably the favourite to win the cash getting some absolute bombs along with Bundeena legend and Mobile Mechanic Jack Baker getting his fair share of kegs. He and Shaun progressed to the Semi’s. Part time dancer Kieran Woodall managed to get one decent wave but couldn’t get a back up score to progress and the final competitor Mike Elmes charged a few bombs but didn’t make it out of any and didn’t progress to the semi’s.
In the second heat, unfortunately Sam Strachan had to pull out due to an eye infection but we had Jimmy Williams frothing to get some Surge bombs.
Chris Deller and Benny Sawyer were on some of the better waves of the day and with the tide coming up there was enough water on the reef on to backdoor some slabs. Chris Deller and Benny Sawyer progressed to the Semi’s. Unfortunately Dane Skelcher got a few decent ones but was unable to make it out of any bombs and Jimmy Williams may have peaked to early free surfing on Surge and got some good waves before and after the heat!
The third heat had Maroubra madman Brendan Rowney fresh from his Deadman’s session upn against local legend Benny Williams and the supergrom Nathan McGregor who has been impressive the last year or so up against 2013 Shark Island Champ Blacky aka Josh Kaihe.
The waves fired for this heat and the points were really close but Blacky rode some intense tubes and took the heat win with super from Nathan McGregor is second. Brendan Rowney charged hard and got a 7 for a really deep tube but couldn’t get a back up score. Benny Williams got a few good ones but Nathan’s strategy of sitting on Surge paid off!
The last heat of the morning saw local Benny Alcock up against the Red Baron aka James Hindle, another supergrom Oliver Ridgeway and last years Australian Junior Champ Noah Gillroy.
Hindle got a bomb and made it and also got a really good back up score to take the heat win. Second place was Oli who chose to sit on Surge and just snuck into to the semi’s by half a point over Noah and Benny. Noah Gillroy got a cracker after the heat had ended but it was too little too late!
We then went straight into the 2 Semi’s as the tide was a huge factor.
Shaun Pyne, Blacky, Chris Deller and supergrom Oli Ridgeway made up the first semi. With plenty of tide there was plenty of deep tubes rides and some decent airs to be had.
Shaun Pyne won the first semi with Blacky in second. Chris Deller was a close third with Oli sticking to his game plan of getting some Surge bombs but could only manage a fourth place but at 16 Oli defianatly has a bright future.
Jack Baker, Benny Sawyer, Nathan McGregor and James Hindle made up Semi number 2.
Jack and Benny sat closer to the peak while Nathan and James sat on Surge.
Plenty of waves were traded. Hindle get a bomb but could not make it and when he came in it looked like his shoulder was cooked! Jack and Benny seemed to get the longer deeper barrels and booked there places in the finals while Nathan managed third place in the semi which was the highest placed from at 16 years old. Such a great achievement!
The Final- We decided to extend the final to 30 mins due to the dropping tide! Benny, Jack and Blacky traded waves while Shaun opted to sit out the back and wait for a bomb! Jack was in the lead with an 8 and a 5 with Blacky close behind with a 7 and a 5, Benny wasn’t far behind either with a 6 and a 4.
A bomb came, possibly the wave of the final. While Shaun paddled for it a free surfer took off and got barrelled the length off the reef and exited with a sharp cutback. From the rail colour and style I could tell that it was Dave Ballard, the Shark Island legend himself!
That wave was probably the 9 to possibly even 10 that Shaun needed but he chose ton pay his respect to a local legend instead!
A huge thank you goes out to Miki Lewis , Carl Robinson , Mike Elmes and Sutherland Shire Council for letting us run a crazy comp during Covid!
1ST – JACK BAKER
2ND – BLACKY AKA JOSH KAIHE
3RD – BENNY SAWYER
4TH – SHAUN PYNE