With Australia’s premier exponents of the specialty Stand-Up-Paddle sport converging on Currumbin Alley (Gold Coast, Qld) an action packed day saw champions crowned across three divisions as well as Queensland’s SUP team selected to compete at the upcoming Australian Titles.
Overall Event Champions (surfing and racing aggregate score)
Open Men Division
1. James Watson (Burleigh Heads, Qld) 2720 Points
2. Jackson Close (Coolangatta, Qld) 2528 Points
Open Women Division
1. Davina Drinan (Gold Coast, Qld) 2583 Points
2. Sondra Purser (Merewether, NSW) 2275 Points
1. Aaron Bitmead (2860, Qld) 2860Points
2. Robert Pirie (Sorrento, Qld) 2195 Points
Open to both Men and Women, the multidisciplinary Roar Industries Ultimate SUP Expo began with an SUP surfing competition, with Jackson Close (Coolangatta, Qld) claiming the blue ribbon Open Men’s surfing division ahead of James Watson (Burleigh Heads, Qld), Keahi de Aboitiz (Sunshine Beach, QLD) and Noel Graham (Lennox Head, NSW) who finished second to fourth respectively.
Close posted a dominant combined two-wave heat total of 15.66 points (out of a possible 20) in the final, trumping his nearest rivals by more than two points.
However, Close, Watson and de Aboitiz will now put rivalries aside as they unite under the Queensland Surfing Team banner having qualified to represent the state at the Australian SUP Titles in August.
James Watson solidified his overall event win in the afternoon’s SUP racing component, registering a convincing first place, as over 50 competitors completed a series of intense SUP sprint rounds in Currumbin Estuary, with Watson proving his all round waterman skills edging out a gallant Trevor Hendy who was in fine form coming in second position.
“I got second in last year’s event and thought I might have fallen short again after coming second to Jackson (Close) in the surfing component, but I was able to get the jump on the field in the paddle race and was lucky enough to come out on top” said Watson.
Meanwhile, Davina Drinan (Gold Coast, Qld) walked away with overall honours in the Open Women division collecting big points with a win in the surfing component before going on to finish 7th in the racing and cap off a stellar weekend.
Queensland SUP Surfing Team
1. Jackson Close (Coolangatta, Qld)
2. James Watson (Burleigh Heads, Qld)
3. Keahi de Aboitiz (Sunshine Beach, Qld)
4. Jake Talbot, Palm Beach, Qld)
1. Davina Drinan (Gold Coast, Qld)
2. Angela Jackson (Palm Beach, Qld)
Not to be forgotten, many of the weekend’s competitors took part in their first competitive surfing event in the Recreational division, proving the popularity of the growing sport and undoubtedly fulfilling an important development avenue for Stand-Up-Paddleboarding within Queensland.
Aaron Bitmead (Miami, Qld), eventually took out the mixed Recreational division after impressively finishing first in the surfing component before backing up to post a second place in the paddle and doing more than enough to edge out Robert Pirie (Sorrento, Qld) for the title 2860 overall points to Pirie’s 2195.
The highly publicized inclusion of former Iron Man Trevor Hendy lived up to the hype with the legendary waterman displaying a range of skills in the surfing component as well as excelling in the racing and proving he can more than match it with his rivals in both SUP skill and of course stamina.