Indigenous surfing: so much fun

Indigenous children from across NSW were today treated to day not to soon be forgotten, learning to surf and rubbing shoulders with one of Australia’s greatest ever sportsman.

Run as part of the Country Energy Australian Surf Festival, the Surfing NSW Indigenous Surf Day, saw 55 Indigenous children from Tamworth, Kempsey, Nambucca Heads, Bowraville, Taree and Port Macquarie learning vital skills about water safety and experiencing the art of surfing.

Also on hand was former Wallaby great, and newly appointed Patron of the Surfing NSW Indigenous Surfing Program, Mark Ella.

“Today was a great day,” he said. “I get a buzz out of seeing the kids so excited,” he continued.

“To witness them standing up on a surfboard for the first time is a really special thing.”

With a famed career on the international sporting arena, Ella and Surfing NSW will be combining to address a number of vital community needs for coastal indigenous individuals.

“By using surfing as a vehicle we can promote a healthy lifestyle and fun with a lot of these kids,” he said.

“Days like today act as a great inspiration for these kids.”

Country Energy and Surfing NSW have a had a strong relationship in bringing together Indigenous communities on the mid north coast of NSW to enjoy surfing, whilst promoting water safety and fun.

Country Energy's regional general manager Mid North Coast, Brian Mclean said the event provided a unique opportunity for young people with an Indigenous background to learn new skills and try a new sport.

"We're committed to adding value to the communities in which we live and this event is a fantastic opportunity for these kids to see the beach and learn about a sport many of them have never tried before.”

"We're a strong supporter of many different Indigenous events throughout NSW which is an extension of our strong Indigenous employment program which has seen more than 120 Indigenous employees join Country Energy since 2001 - helping Country Energy create a workforce that truly represents our customer base in cultural diversity," he said.

Hairil Anwar: the first always deserves a major celebration

Indonesia’s, Gold Coast/Palm Beach based Hairil “Oney” Anwar sent out a loud and clear message to the surfing world that the Indonesian’s will be a power in professional surfing by becoming the first ever Indonesian surfer to win a major Association of Surfing Professionals Pro Junior surfing event when he won the Dripping Wet Pro Junior at South Curl Curl Beach on Sydney’s northern beaches today.

An ecstatic Onwar commented on his historic performance today saying “it feels fantastic to win – this is my first time winning and im stoked – I’m going to be doing more pro junior events in the next couple of years and it’s awesome to be the first Indonesian surfer to win a Pro Junior event”

The day was highlighted by aerial performances – more successful aerial moves than ever before seen at a pro junior event in Australia according to ASP Australasia Tour Director Dane Jordan and included an amazing tally of 11 aerial moves in the four man final.

Onwar has been based on the Gold Coast studying for the past three years and second in today’s final was fellow Gold Coaster Thomas Woods.

Woods set the scene for today’s remarkable performances scoring a perfect 10 point ride in an earlier heat when he executed a full rotation 360 degree air reverse.

Third in today’s final completed the Gold Coast trio with Mitch Crews – all places posting outstanding final tallies on their top two scoring rides of above 16 points with Onwar on 17.75, Woods 16.50 and Crews on 16 while local Freshwater Beach surfer Tommy Myers came in fourth in the final with a modest final performance on 11.15.

Newport surfer Chris Salisbury made the semi-finals but saw his year-long goal of qualifying for the ASP World Junior events disappear when he placed 4th in that semi final to be eliminated.

The Dripping Wet Pro Junior final day was a spectacle, one of if not the best day in ASP Australasian Pro Junior surfing history and the performances of these fast emerging surfers again stamped the future of high performance surfing which is taking to the air and scoring big for surfing’s highest degree of difficulty aerial moves.

Today wraps up the ASP Australasian Pro Junior season 2010 with the Dripping Wet Pro Junior and the Blue Kiss Pro Junior the final events of a hugely successful season.

Winners of the ASP Men’s and Women’s series ratings for 2010 are Mitch Crews (Qld) and Airini Mason (NSW) respectively and both join a very prestigious list of former winners who have used their series win as part of a launching pad to even greater heights in ASP careers.

The ASP Australasian region qualifiers of the upcoming ASP World Championship Junior Series which begins with event one in October are:

Pro Junior Men’s: Mitch Crews, Davey Cathels, Jack Freestone, Ty Watson and Chris Friend
Pro Junior Women’s : Airini Mason and Felicity Palmeteer

Wiggolly Dantas: a Brazilian taking over Europe

Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) today claimed the Sooruz Lacanau Pro title downing fellow countryman Alejo Muniz in the 35-minute final to achieve his best result of the year and his second ASP Men’s Star-Series title in a closely fought final on a day which saw epic conditions for the grand finale to the 31st edition of the Sooruz Lacanau Pro an Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) sanctioned event.

Excellent surfing conditions continued for the final day of action at the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Sooruz Lacanau Pro with clean off-shore winds and peaks in the 4-5ft (1.2m) range pumping in with the incoming tide. Event officials waited for the optimum swell window for the running of today’s heats resulting in an action packed display of futuristic power surfing for the large crowds lining the shores.

Wiggolly Dantas 20, surfed a perfectly controlled final to lead from start to finish despite the efforts of Muniz to close the gap. Starting off solidly it was not until the halfway mark that Dantas hooked onto a long peeling right to lay down a series of powerful backhand turns to snatch a 7.83 and consolidate his lead and leave his opponent searching for a reply.

“It is so amazing right now to surf against one of my best friends in the final and to win the contest and I just went out there to surf my heat and do my best and it all worked out and I am really stoked now.”

“I was thinking about the waves a bit before the final and the rights were looking better and the lefts were closing out a little bit so I tried to concentrate on the rights and in the end I made a good result. You had to wait a little for the good waves and look for the set so that is what I did”

All the Brazilian surfers were on hand to watch the finals go down and support their countrymen as they did battle in the final. Definitely a plus factor for the surfers the patriotic support added to the festivities of the Sooruz Lacanau Pro.

“It is my best result this year and it was perfect because I had a lot of friends here and everybody is together and that is amazing to have all these guys supporting each other.”

Alejo Muniz (BRA) 20, was the inform surfer during the earlier heats this morning laying down some of the biggest turns of the entire event and headed into the final as a clear favourite to take the title. Holding priority for a major part of the final Muniz was unlucky in not finding any waves to wall up down the line.

Muniz tried in vain to get back into the race and required only a modest score to turn the tables however fell short leaving Dantas with a clear road to victory. Visibly upset with the result Muniz was content with his overall second place.

“It was so hard out there and the waves were not coming to me and I tried to do my best but Wiggolly won in the end and I am happy for him. I really wanted to win this contest but I couldn’t in the end but it is still ok because my friend won so it is good for me too.”

Richard Christie (NZL) 21, finished equal 3rd his best Men’s Star-Series result to date losing out to Wiggolly Dantas in a low scoring semi-final clash. Positioning himself on the southern bank in search of the left-handers Christie failed to find any scoring rides until the dying moments of the heat where he grinded out an excellent 8.27 out of a possible 10 however to no avail.

“It is a good result for me and unfortunately I only got one good scoring wave in that heat but anyway Wiggolly deserved the win as he surfed really well that heat. I was doing the same as I have been doing the entire event going out on the south side and it has been fun but now as the tide is getting higher it got a little fatter than what I thought it was going to do so a little mistake on my part but I have learnt from it for sure.”

Pedro Henrique (BRA) pulled off the barrel of the day with a deep clean front-side tube (8.5 out of 10) to oust Marc Lacomare (FRA) in the quarter-finals however he finished equal 3rd overall failing to overtake Muniz in the semi-finals. In his first major overseas event this year Henrique is out to return to the elite Dream Tour with renewed energy thanks to a new sponsor this year.

“It was a hard heat to get a wave out there in the end,” explained Henrique. “I started with a good wave and Alejo too and then I needed to wait for a better wave but it never came. Alejo was so good in the water and he was always trying to improve his scores but I am very happy.”

Returning after a year’s absence to the Sooruz Lacanau Pro Henrique comments on his aims here in Europe and for the remainder of the season.

“Last year I couldn’t come but now I have a new sponsor and they have given me the support to try and make the WCT one more time. I am happy to be in France to do this contest and my year is just starting now so this is a nice result for me and I’m looking forward to the next ones and hopefully leave Europe up high on the rankings.”

Marc Lacomare (FRA) finished equal fifth and has furthered his lead on the European Men’s Series rankings by almost 2,000 points over Glenn Hall (IRL) at the halfway stage of the 12 event series. Coming from a victory in the beginning of August in Newquay Lacomare has continued his excellent form and heads off to Galicia, Spain for next week’s event looking to do even better.

Wiggolly Dantas (BRA) 14.23 Def. Alejo Muniz (BRA) 12.70