Clash of the Titans: Port Macquarie Teams Challenge 2021.
By Doug Smith.
10 teams with 10 team members, each surfing twice. Best results over the weekend, take the crown or in this case, the triple-bell trophy.
Tactics and alliances always come into play when each team member battles the other clans. Team captains work out strategies to make sure you surf at the right end of the beach, keep separate from the other competitors, or push them north away from the bank. Go for the barrel, play it safe and get the barrel and finish the wave to get the score.
All in the first 5minutes.
Not many people know the pressure of the Teams Challenge unless you’re in the PMBA or Newcastle Team. The rivalry has been strong since I started surfing for the PMBA team in 2007 and both Johnny Cruickshank and Jimmy Leayr are just as strong competitors.
The first day was strange. All of the PMBA members take it seriously but you feel like no one else is. At one end of the beach, teams from Foster, Coffs Harbour, and Women of the Waves are embracing the team spirit and encouraging one another, no matter what the results; and on the other end of the beach, under their own marquee, much further away from our PMBA tent, the Newcastle Team are writing down scores of their team members, just as we are. Making sure the unbiased paid world-tour experienced judges are on point.
After the first day, Newcastle and PMBA were tied at 36 points.
The second day of the event was harder. Results from each heat were withheld and the pressure to surf your best is higher than ever. Stakes are high and fraught with risk, every mistake can be the deciding point at the presentation––and right up until the last heat, interferences to mastermind and deliberate block your competitor’s waves to obstruct, hinder and prevent them from getting the winning wave––all based on Charlie Holt’s and Johnny C’s heat predictions.
It all came down to the boiling point at the presentation.
The final results from each heat were readout. The crowd was silent. The air filled with ale-filled breaths on the cool winter night. The pushback and scrutiny from the Newcastle Team to contest the results, didn’t stop until the very end.
Damian King and Johnny Cruickshank were head to head. Clashing for victory. PMBA vs Newcastle. A rivalry as old as the event itself. Every wave determined the victory of competition, until the double interference. Kingy wanting the right and Johnny want the left. Both wanting the direction best suited to them. Right vs left. Bwalls vs Merewether.
The results were read as:
4th place… Damian King.
3rd place… John Cruickshank.
The confident and presumptuous roar of the Newcastle team filled the presentation, muting the announcer. The rest was scribed in the Port Macquarie Teams Challenge history. The victory of the 33rd year event was stolen from the local heroes. That weekend was not our time, but be ready Newcastle and the other opposing teams. PMBA will toll the triple-bell trophy for the 34th Teams Challenge Event in 2022.