Nick Riley 

Freshwater Surfer Nick Riley made an impressive return from a dilapidating injury in the 25th Jesus Pro Am at Manly, to claim victory in the Open Men’s Division against good mate and rival Boardrider Club member Dustin Atkinson (Manly).

With the Men’s final replicating a local inter-club heat, Queenscliff Boardriders Club member Riley, faced the in-form Atkinson from the North Steyne Boardriders Club.

In excellent 1m surf at Queenscliff Beach, both Riley and Atkinson displayed great early round form, with each progressing undefeated to the man-on-man 20-minute final. However, it was Riley who quickly stamped his authority on the final, posting a 6.10 score to move to a good lead position.

Riley then consolidated his lead with an excellent 8.40 score after completing an incredible combination of backhand carving turns to have Atkinson needing a combination of scores.

Despite a late charge by Atkinson, who netted a strong 7.20 scoring ride after holding priority through an extended lull in waves, it was too late with time running out for the natural footer.

Riley was extremely pleased with his win in what was his first contest after sustaining a severed tendon in his foot which forced him out of the water for 3 months.

“I’m absolutely stoked”, exclaimed Riley, “To come back from injury with a win, especially here at home and against my good mate Dustin, is great”.

“The win is a huge confidence booster for me and will set up the rest of my year competitively”.

For his win, Riley took home $1000 cash and a trip to Samoa courtesy of Line Up Surf Travel.

The Open Women’s division saw a high scoring Final with all four competitors providing the strong Manly crowd with a see-sawing heat.

In the end it was recent Surfest Women’s WQS Champion Phillipa Anderson (Merewether) who was too strong, out pointing Skye Burgess (Lake Heights) into second, 2008 event champion Yvonne Byron (Figtree) in third and Broulee surfer Bijou Busse finishing in fourth.

Anderson claimed $1000 for her victory plus a weekend at the exclusive Salamander Shores Resort, Salamander Bay.

The Cadet Boys and Girls divisions again provided an impressive peek into the next generation of professional surfers with all competitors continuing to raise performance levels.

The Cadet Boys Final featured three Cronulla locals: Rory Jenkins, defending event champ Conner O’Leary and Cory Robertson, against impressive Kiama Downs’ surfer Brett Connellan.

In a battle for $500 and a brand new Misfit Shapes surfboard, all four competitors went into the last five minutes of the final with two average-to-good range scoring rides each, ensuring a grandstand finish.

And they did not disappoint, with Conner O’Leary blazing a wave in the final 30 seconds, to post an excellent range 8.30 score to claim victory for the second consecutive year!

The Cadet Girls followed suit, with a super tight tussle that eventually saw Jess Van Der Meer (Narrabeen) outpoint runner-up Grace Styman-Lane (Avalon) to win the $500 and a Mauricio Gill surfboard. North Curl Curl’s Lauren McAleer finished third with Audrey Styman-Lane (Avalon) in fourth.

The super exciting Air Expression Session, saw Curl Curl surfer Steve Ahrens display his aerial prowess pulling off a very stylish no-hands backside air to win the $500 on offer for the most outstanding aerial manoeuvre successfully completed.

With fantastic waves blessing the event, the 25th Jesus Pro Am will long be remembered for a new level of competitive surfing, drawing significant crowds to the idyllic Queenscliff amphitheatre to witness some of the best surfers in the country compete across the two days.

The Jesus Pro Am aims to offer a different style of contest for competitors and according to Open Men’s Winner Nick Riley, it did just that!

“The Jesus Pro Am is always such a fun event”, said Riley. “Everyone’s families are down here hanging out and the atmosphere is very different to other contests”.

“This year’s Jesus Pro AM exceeded everyone’s expectation,” said Christian Surfers’ Central NSW Regional Coordinator, Al Westbury. “We were blessed with good weather and awesome waves which ensured the surfing was of the highest level”.

“But it’s the other key ingredients in the event that we believe really make the Jesus Pro Am stand out from other surfing contests – the hospitality, the art displays, the win-a-surfboard competition, the prayer and the church service on the beach – they all contribute to creating the different event atmosphere that highlights to the elite competitors just how much more there is to life when Jesus is at the centre.”

The 2009 Jesus Pro Am also the introduction of a Live Webcast via the event’s website, which saw live footage and commentary, beamed globally via the internet.

“We had viewers from all over the world, even some viewers in Brazil staying up till 4am to watch the finals,” said Westbury.

The 2009 event also saw the continued partnership of the event with local charity Manly-Monado. The partnership saw the event assist in raising awareness and funds for the people of Manado, a village in Indonesia.

As always, a huge team of volunteers, made up of Christian Surfers’ crew from around Australia and local church members, worked tirelessly to ensure every competitor was well feed cooking up a huge supply of cakes and bacon and egg rolls right throughout. Huge thanks to all the crew who put in a great effort over the weekend!

The Jesus Pro Am presented by Bible Society NSW and Coastalwatch is part of a 3-event series that will see the event staged across three locations in NSW. The next event in the series will be held on 15-16 August at Coffs Harbour and then 21-22 November at Wollongong.

Jesus Pro-Am 2009-Manly Final Results:

Open Men
1st Nick Riley (Freshwater Beach)
2nd Dustin Atkinson (Manly)
=3rd Blake Levett (Manly)
=3rd Bobby Frith (Old Bar)

Open Women
1st Phillipa Anderson (Newcastle)
2nd Skye Burgess (Lake Heights)
3rd Yvonne Byron (Figtree)
4th Bijou Busse (Broulee)

Cadet Boys
1st Connor O’Leary (Cronulla)
2nd Rory Jenkins (Cronulla)
3rd Brett Connellan (Kiama Downs)
4th Cory Robertson (Cronulla)

Cadet Girls
1st Jess Van Der Meer (Narrabeen)
2nd Grace Styman-Lane (Avalon)
3rd Lauren McAleer (North Curl Curl)
4th Audrey Styman-Lane (Avalon)


SOURCE: Jesus Pro Am