Neil Pryde Classic

Strong winds for both days of competition were predicted for the Neil Pryde Classic at Wanda Beach, heat 4 of the NSWWA 2008-09 series. Competitors were keen for a reappearance of last years mystery swell, although Sydney’s usual summer thermals were disrupted by an intense low-pressure system looming of NSW southern coastal waters.

Inspired by building north westerly wind and a desire to visit Captain Cook’s landing place, competition was moved to Kurnell about midday on Saturday. This is one of the few sailable locations in Sydney when the wind blows from this direction. The format was to be a freestyle expression session with 5 secret judges to pick the day’s standout sailors.

Kurnell is an excellent flat-water venue with plenty of grass for rigging and an accessible beach launch. Westerly winds blow uninterrupted down Botany Bay creating typical bump and jump conditions out in the middle. Closer to shore groynes create a barrier from chop creating a freestyle paradise.

The Junior Division started their official competition at 1:30pm with a 20 minute expression session. They impressed both onlookers and judges with their ability to sail in a gusty 15-25knots. It was clearly evident that they were having fun making the most of the conditions. Jake Juretic had the nod from the judges with his chops hops, one-handed and one-footed moves. All the juniors showed excellent technique although they were all very keen to sail in some waves if conditions allowed on Sunday. Jessica Juretic showed this on Sunday by taking out the junior’s title in some big and tricky wave conditions.

By 2:00pm all sailors were on the water enjoying the strong wind, which was gusting to 30knots. Sail sizes ranged between 4.2 and 5.8 however, by 3:00pm gusts to 35 knots had forced most competitors to change down a sail size to stay in control. The order of the day was flat water blasting. Flat water 360’s, body drags, catapults, duck gybes, high speed lay-down gybes, forward loops, vulcans and spocks were all popular moves.

There were some genuine freestylers among the wavesailers who did stand out. They opted for to use smaller sails for control and big slidey boards. John Naylor was in his element completing many Spock 540’s early in the day and Dan Berry impressed with a range of clew first spock 540’s. Alan Bailey, John Paget and Mel Bienmann also demonstrated their ability in the popping and sliding stuff.

The Expression session concluded by 4:00 and most competitors had had enough of overpowered flat water blasting. The 34 degree heat had us all looking forward to a cold beer at the presentation BBQ. Thanks to Mike Preswick for allowing us to enjoy his view over Cronulla from his backyard. Prizes were awarded to place getters from heat 3 and Rob Graham took home a brand new Neil Pryde mast in the raffle.

Sunday
After a quick check of Spot X the decision was made to attempt competition at Wanda/Greenhills, this being a safer venue. By 11:00am a gusty side off shore Westerly wind blowing at 10-20knots looked promising but the high tide was not yet allowing the waves to genuinely break. However, it seemed that a small south mystery swell had appeared overnight and would only improve with the falling tide. All that was needed was a couple of wind dummies to test the conditions. Although it was an unusual wind direction for Wanda Dave Bassetti and Tim Williams proved it was sailable. As the tide dropped the 2-3ft southerly swell began to produce some clean rideable right hand breaking waves that peeled down the beach. This was enough to tempt most sailors out for a free sail prior to any official competition.

Conditions continued to improve as the wind strengthened and swung more side shore with genuine lines of swell appearing out of the south. All of a sudden the official competition flags were up on the beach, judging sheets handed out and the first heat of the Masters expression session started at 1:30pm.

Heats were 15 minutes of expression session with the top 4 advancing to man on man competition. Competitors could perform both jumps and waverides in the expression session while the best 3 waves were only counted in the final heats. Most sailors focused on their wave riding, however Jason Juretic pulled off some clean forwards and Adrian Levy even stuck a high Push Loop in the tricky off shore winds.

The conditions were not always easy with a gusty15-30knot wind and patches of no swell. However, within a heat the conditions could be perfect side off 20knots with clean fast waves that offered tempting lips to smack. Occasionally the wind would swing too offshore and drop leaving sailors slogging and waiting for waves. In these testing conditions most competitors opted for smaller sails around 4.7msq to keep control on wave face and used 75-85litre boards to keep moving in the lulls. During the afternoon the swell continued to build with some logo high bombs. Good positioning and wave selection became very important within a heat. When set waves rolled in it was better to avoid the larger ones that tended to close out on the emerging sand bar. The most points could be gained by picking up a medium sized wave, getting an aerial off the first peak and then continuing down the line towards Greenhills where the swell would reform, offering a peaky bowl section to get a final aerial off. Then it was a matter of gaining 200 meters upwind to hopefully get two more waves in the allotted time.

Waiting for swell tested the patience of many competitors, as set waves would arrive unpredictably. Judges only counted 3 best waves in the man on man heats and owing to the difficult conditions, patience, good technique and luck all played a part in determining the place getters. Conditions allowed a full round of masters, pros and amateurs to be run. Club officials ensured that competition ran very smoothly with quick changeovers between heats and at least 4 judges overlooking each round.

Masters

The Masters began with 2 expression session heats to determine the final 4. The swell had started to really produce some decent waves however good timing was essential. Warren Holder looked to be off his usual game until he picked off some serious ¾ mast high sets in the second half of his heat clearly showing that he is not just a Gerroa tack sailor. Alan Bailey was rewarded for his patience slotting into some nice long walls linking numerous turns and aerials. He has stepped up a level in his sailing especially in stronger winds suiting him. Ollie Barter impressed with some fluid vertical snaps as did Steve (the wave magnet) Myers who scored long rides 300 meters down the beach finishing off by punting aerials off the shore break.

Pros

The Pro sailors really showed what was possible revelling in the solid 4-6ft waves, each being able to showcase their wave riding talents. Dan Berry showed what was possible on his new JP twinnie combining fast turns in the critical section and launching himself off the lip. David Bassetti pulled off the biggest aerial of the day launching himself 15ft off a logo high closeout at the end of the his heat. Adrian Levy showed that a lack of waves in Queensland has not slowed him down. He stormed back into his heat on borrowed gear from team Gaastra after unluckily breaking a mast at the start of his heat. Rhys Herbert finally used his little board in a competition demonstrating his familiarity with his home break.

Amateurs

The enthusiastic amateurs enjoyed the challenging conditions. The scoring was very close with a number of split decisions from the judges. At the end of the day Francios Pialoux was most consistent sailor eventually taking out the Amateurs final for his first win of the season. He confidently pulled his Starboard into the larger set waves screaming fast down the vertical walls and pulling aerials in the final. Unfortunately Tim Williams was not able to maintain his momentum from earlier heats and spent the entire final caught in a rip in the impact zone. Matt Cliffe and Ed Warburton made up the final 4 each picking up numerous waves. Ed’s using his Starboard Evo, and Matt his custom twinnie, to tear up the DTL conditions.


Overall another successful competition held in genuine wave sailing conditions and under sunny skies. It was pleasing to see a couple of new faces and the return of Mel Bienmann in the women’s division.

The standard of wave sailing on average was very high as good technique and careful wave selection were essential in the somewhat tricky conditions. The larger more powerful waves allowed better sailors to really showcase their wave riding ability. As only one mast being broken the whole afternoon, more as a result of bad luck, it is evident that all competitors can genuinely handle these types of conditions. After 4 rounds of competition it is clearly evident that any of 4-5 sailors can take out a final. It certainly is not the case that one sailor dominates every competition. At this stage with one round of competition to go positions in all divisions are still not yet decided. The next round will hopefully be held in more typical Gerroa conditions where perfect DTL waves beg to be shredded.

We did a freestyle session in Kurnell on the Saturday with the winners being:

Pro's - Dan Berry
Am's - Francois Pialoux
Masters - a gaggle of 4 (Allan, Jason, Steve and Ollie)
Groms - Jake Juretic

The Sunday wave day at Wanda was won by:

Pro's - Dan Berry
Am's - Francois Pialoux
Masters - Warren Holder
Groms - Jess Juretic


SOURCE: NSW Wave Sailing