Huge swell hits the first round of the 2009 Nomad Shark Island Challenge

July 13, 2009 | Bodyboarding

Adam Luehman

After an agonising wait the first Round of ‘The 2009 Nomad Shark Island Challenge’ finally got underway in what some are claiming to be suicidal conditions. The anticipated Easterly swell delivered waves in the 2m range with its direction causing some major headaches for some of the riders.

The first two heats saw some incredible action and commitment with competitors copping the full fury of an angry Shark Island. With the swell hitting the reef straight on wave knowledge was the leading edge to success.

To open up proceedings Heat 1 saw a massive wipe out from Glen Thurston.  Arguably un-makeable, Thurston lined himself up for a date with the reef which resulted in two severely lacerated ankles and minor bruising to the side of his back.

Tamarama's Jose Marquina managed to find a few clean ones as did South Coast charger Jason Finlay who used all of his reef knowledge to acquire some solid tube time.

As the heat progressed the crowd went wild for 1999 SIC Champion Christian "Rissole" Riguccini. Rissole surfed his heat well finding the tube on most of his waves and coming close to  scoring the tube of the day only being denied on a pinching ‘Surge” section..

As Heat 2 got underway QLD's Nick Omerod seemed to fit in well, slotting into a copy of hectic barrels in the opening 15mins only to receive a perforated eardrum in the later stages of the heat.

Omerod sustained the injury on a smaller more robust wedge. As he was driving through the barrel the shock wave basically blasted straight into his left eardrum. Upon closer examination from the land based lifeguard Omerod was advised to seek further medical attention.

Sydney’s Alex Bunting managed to utilise a pitching lip to successful invert over an extremely menacing ‘White Rock section, the roar of the crowd confirming his exit from the massive explosion of water.

Event dark horse, Cronulla’s Doug Showell showed his prowess in the knowledge of this harsh wave as he picked of some staggering rides – Showell, a previous stand out in past Shark Island events showed the crowd that he was a contender scoring a few high scoring waves.

Avalon's Ewan Donnachie lived up to his fine form making some powerful rides. Donnachie who is known for his fine line of commitment managed to find a few to establish his first round heat score.

Western Australia’s Adam Luehman was in impressive form challenging ’The Beast’ to push him harder as he slotted into some juicy waves and busted some of the events biggest inverts...

The beginning of Heat 3 saw Local Dave Ballard paddle out to the outer peak his plan being to pick off one of the famed sets that had been ravaging the earlier heats. Most riders followed Ballard’s lead hoping that his local knowledge would lead them into a few monsters but it wasn’t to be.

The swell failed to deliver for this heat and in particular Chris James who failed to catch a wave.

Cronulla local Brendan "Barney" Ryan saw the change in the swell and correctly positioned himself on ‘Surge’ picking off a few high scoring waves.

Internationals Jarred Houston from South Africa and U.S. rider Mike Murphy managed to score a few smaller waves escaping the rogue close outs which threatened to drive them hard into the limestone reef at any moment. With limited wave knowledge both competitors managed to score some nice waves setting themselves up for the coming round.

As Heat 4 got under way the swell seemed to stay at bay. The bigger sets of the earlier heats were no where to be found.

Central Coast rider Josh Pollard contest skills followed him from the trials into the main event as he managed to squeeze every wave for maximum points 

Local Glenn Sullivan used his local skills to snavel his share of waves which included a hectic wipe out which brought the crowd to their feet. The crowd literally held their breath until the wave finally let a battered Sullivan from its grasp.

There were two other locals present in this heat. The inclusion of Alex Leon and Benny Sawyer meant that the local rivalry was strong. In the end it was Leon that managed to find a few solid ones despite the lack of good quality waves.

The first female rider to compete in the Shark Island Challenge, Kira Llewellyn also managed to find a few but as the heat drew close to the end as did the waves and by the final minutes a NNW wind started to develop causing a cross shore chop to the already draining conditions.

Upon the completion of Heat 4 riders and officials were all in favour of placing Round 2 on hold. The anticipated SE direction that normally wraps the famed reef during the winter months failed to show all day with the swell tending to show more of a slight NE direction as a result of the weakening low pressure system.

Riders and officials have been briefed and are now on call for the next forecasted swell predicted for the end of the week. At this stage a SSE swell is expected this coming Friday and it should follow into Saturday.

Points for this unique event will not be released until the start of Round Two.

When Round Two finally gets underway riders will then be given their overall scores so they can work out where they stand and what they need to do to ensure that they take home the $10,000 winner takes all prize purse.

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