Big Hill Beach
Crescent Head NSW
2017 Crescent Head Open
Day 1 dawned with a chilly 4 degrees and more steam coming off the ocean than my morning coffee.
Contest Director, David Howard, was up earlier than everyone else scoping the waves and trying to get us the best spot. It was deemed that due to other breaks closing out we would sacrifice a bit of size for a peeling wave, so Big Hill Point was the go.
If you were one of the poor sods in the first couple of heats, it was bloody freezing but after an hour or so of sun up it turned out to be a perfect day with smiles all round.
There were no major upsets in the first two rounds of the Qualifiers, but once round three started and the seeds came in to play all hell broke loose with upset after upset. The peeling surf with not many air sections had evened out the playing field, so if you were not on your game you were bombarded by hungry qualifiers that were out for blood.
Special mention to Brian Spicer, Michael Jones and Luke Feenan – these guys all progressed through Round 3 and took out a couple of past World Champions in their path. And as the comp went on, it was evident that if you drew any of these guys in your heat you had to step up or get stepped on.
Round 5 was no different with Qualifiers progressing through, passing some top seeded riders. Of the seeds that got through, Mick Feenan was looking the goods with the highest heat score of the round making him the man to beat. Behind him were Tony Cherry, Dale Randahl, Lance Milnes and Brian Spicer all gaining a first place in their heats.
By now the onshore breeze was starting to appear so we made the call to run the Quarter Finals and call it a day, and in true fashion following the rest of the day, the Qualifiers stepped up another notch with Brian Spicer winning another heat, making it three heats in a row, and now in through to the Semis. Other semi-finalists were Tony Cherry, Dale Randahl, Lance Milnes, Russell Hudson, Mick Feenan, Luke Feenan, and Michael Jones.
That was the end of Day 1 and we all met up at the Crescent Head Tavern for a meal and a couple of drinks. Dave did a raffle draw for 12 bottles of wine and then presented the WSA Committee a cheque for $300 generously given by Darren the owner of the Tavern to go towards paid judges for the upcoming Australian Open.
By this time everybody’s eyes looked like they were hanging out of their heads and people were falling asleep in their food, so that ended a pretty big day.
Day 2 dawned with 7 degrees and no steam coming off the ocean, so temperature-wise things were looking up. Unfortunately the surf was not as good as the day before and on a dying swell we got underway as soon as possible to make the most of what surf we had.
First up was the Legends/Women’s Final with Garry Ross, Billy Dalton for the legends (and they truly are) and Savannah Campbell for the women’s. It was tough out there with not many opportunities coming through. Billy Dalton was leading right up until two minutes to go when Garry got a long wave from out the back, performing a couple of nice turns to steal the victory in the dying seconds, taking out the Legends title. But Savannah not only won the women’s but she actually won this whole heat ahead of the two spritely young men. Savannah’s wave selection was one of her secret weapons over the weekend. But more on that later.
Next up was the Masters Semi-Finals with Dale Randahl, Lance Milnes, Tony Cherry, Mick Feenan all making it through to the final. Surf was getting smaller by the minute and it was becoming harder for the bigger guys to gain speed and get the scores.
This was evident in the Open Semi-Finals, Dale Randahl, Tony Cherry, Luke Feenan and Mick Feenan getting the nod over Lance Milnes, Russell Hudson, Michael Jones and Brian Spicer.
To have three guys in the Semi-Finals of the Open from the Qualifiers was great to see. All the way through they made the top seeds work for it.
The Veterans Final was hotly contested with Wayne Furnance coming in at 4th place followed by Jeff Gray in 3rd – these two guys surfed so well in the Open division all weekend but just couldn’t quite find the same form in this Final. Col Sugars surfed well into 2nd place but Graham Roberts took the glory with some high scoring manoeuvres. Graham actually pulled out of the Open with a sore knee the day before, so to come out in his first surf of the weekend and win as convincingly as he did, the question on everyone’s lips is what meds did you take and will you share?
The Grandmasters Semis had your usual suspects getting through to the final like Mark Spencer, Russell Hudson, David Howard and, not so expected, Steve Sargent who had a blinder of a Semi and made up the last spot in the final.
The Grandmasters Final saw Steve Sargent in 4th place with Russell Hudson in 3rd place, the tussle between first and second was so close. There was a countback for this result, both these boys surfed really well but Mark Spencer just fell short, so David Howard took out the Grandmasters at his own event, some might say this is suspicious or rigged but at the volume David speaks we would have heard him planning it beforehand if it was. Sorry Dave, congrats buddy you deserved it.
The Masters Final was a bit of a letdown, Mick Feenan had injured his shoulder in the Semi-Final so elected to save himself for the Open Final and Lance Milnes made the decision not to surf as the surf was so slow and small he would have rather scratched out his own eyes with a fork. So it was just Dale and Tony out there for twenty minutes going blow for blow or crappy turn for crappy turn with Dale getting the nod over Tony.
The Semi Finals in the Qualifiers saw Michael Jones show why he is leading the rankings in the Qualifiers for this year with one of the highest scoring waves of the weekend, with smooth crisp top to bottom surfing which made him progress as a favourite into the Qualifiers Final. The other three to make up the Final were Savannah Campbell, Luke Feenan and Terry Oehm all with great performances too.
The Qualifiers is the most competitive division at any of our comps this year and has been a very successful addition. The final of this was no different, it could have gone either way, there was only one point separating 1st to 4th with more countbacks than hot dinners. So in 4th place Terry Oehm followed by Michael Jones who finished in 3rd place. Luke Feenan once again surfed very well to gain a 2nd place only to be beaten in the last few minutes by Savannah Campbell’s impeccable wave selection – she got a freak set wave and road it to the beach for the win.
It was finally here, the Open Final and it did not disappoint. As expected the surf got even worse as it always does for an Open Final. But the four guys made the most of it, trying their best to get up over the chop and score some points. Mick Feenan had surfed well all weekend and looked like the man to beat, but now wounded he had to settle for 4th place, Luke Feenan on the other hand put on a great performance throughout and kept his head right through the Final and actually tied for second and just got pushed into 3rd spot by Dale Randal on a countback. In the end it was Tony Cherry who took out the Crescent Head Open with a couple of waves that let him come off the lip a few times and carry on all the way to the beach.
After the comp was over, we all packed up and met up at the Waves Caravan Park for the presentation where all the winners received their trophies and medals and got their photo taken with the perpetual waveski trophy that everyone was hoping they wouldn’t win and have to take home. But in usual Dave Howard style, he took one for the team and has it in on display in his house.
A big thanks to Dave Howard for organising such a fun contest. Also thank you to all the people that helped lug the gear around and, as usual, thanks to Russell Hudson for towing the trailer and tabulating all weekend.
Also thank you to Jeff Butterworth. He has been an asset to the WSA not only competing this year but also bringing you most of the images you see on Facebook and the website. Do yourself a favour and check out Buttery Smooth Images on Facebook.
Special mention to Darren Kearns – after a major injury a year ago he made the trip and got back in the water for the first time in a while. He has vowed to come back to the comp scene, so we all better watch out, as a former World Waveski Champion he will be on the hunt.
See you all in Yamba for the Australian Open.
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Account name: Waveski Surfing Australia
BSB: 064 404
Account Number: 1047 5278
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