With a solid swell forecast and an excited energy for the return of a marquee bodyboarding event in Warrnambool, the table was set for a momentous weekend, and both certainly came to the party. State Titles 2023 round 02 left a lasting impression with solid swells, incredible rides, and most of all gratitude and welcoming from the west coast community, making this a truly special event.
Thanks to presenting partners Palmer Towel Co. and Voyage Surf, Ski & Skate, we were able to assemble a host of local supporters including Warrnambool City Council, Fitz Media for local media coverage, Great Ocean Coffee Roasting providing fresh brews all weekend, and our dedicated surf rescue and Jet-Ski crew providing the most important services of the event.
We saw a weekend of committed bodyboarding, with some of the hollowest, heaviest slabs we've had the privilege to contest in some time. So many were pushing the limits with moves into critical sections and committed sends that left leashes broken and the crowd erupting from the Logan's Beach whale watching platform to make one of the best competition energy in memory.
The opening rounds of Masters and Open Mens Saturday morning were sent out into imposing solid onshore conditions featuring Portuguese charger Rui Mateus, president Chris Watson and defending champ Mark Britten testing the waters first. These confident pioneers set the tone and judging scale for the entire weekend pushing each other with some huge sends with rolls off the top and commits into crushing hollow slabs. Ryan Jucker, Ben Roberts and local chargers Travis Craig and Luke Palmer were the first to start to glimpsing scores near the excellent range in the opening rounds, navigating the tough slabs with combinations of cover ups and critical off the lip attacks. Day one finished with a buzz, setting the tone for an even cleaner yet equally sizey and promising Sunday for the champions to be crowned.
Day two opened with a welcome inclusion, Jet-Ski assist. Big shout out to the boys for running the ski all Sunday to allow our competitors the best possible opportunities to catch optimum waves without losing half a heat to paddling through the heaving inside section and current. Biceps and calves sighed in collective relief, only to be replaced by the punishment of backs and ribs from the increased onslaught of committed sends into heavy sections that resulted from more opportunities.
Josh Keenan and Trav Craig took early wins in the Mens semis, with Trav's local knowledge opening the most critical sections for under the lip spins and invert launches and Josh's roll game always on point with the highest projection off the lip shining through.
Concurrently further down the beach Tully Roberts took out Juniors with some awesome scores, whilst Lyndall Jucker utilised her awesome roll game in solid beachies to take the Women's win against Kylie Palmer.
The Open Mens semis were where things really opened up into a new ball game. Dropping into a bomb, Mark Britten successfully navigated a colossal double section draining pit to emerge to the cheers of the whole crowd, earning a perfect 10.0 for the best single wave of the event. Fully awoken, Mark followed up with a similar 9.0 to form the rare honour of taking out both best heat and single score for the event - Mark was rewarded with our version of the WSL's perfect 10 prize, taking home an epic cooler courtesy of Gage Roads Brew Co.
The heroics continued through some exciting semis with Josh Keenan rolling to some huge scores, and Ned Johnstone looking focused and in-form with some huge punts.
Our Dropknee finals saw some super exciting and stylish riding across wide faces and dramatics under the lip; reigning champ from round 1 Dane Pope showed off how cleanly he can navigate barrels in DK form, however it was Darren Walton that found the connection to take first place with multiple solid scores earned from some critical carve and spin work across the solid slabs.
Our Grandmasters final kicked off with some big tidal swings resulting in wave choice being a huge factor. Reigning champ Nathan Clark put on a masterclass of combos and wave selection to pull out the win over Shane Britten and Ryan Lindsay.
Moving into the pinnacle of the day and our main division finals, the conditions remained solid and confronting, but with even more challenging sections than those leading up. The table was set with finalists in Masters (o35), Mens (18-35) and the marquee Open divisions converging for some epic showdowns of faces both new and familiar.
Ned Johnstone topped off a consistent run of great scores to confidently take down the Mens division against an electric field of Travis Craig, Axel Hahne, and Josh Keenan, whilst in Masters Ryan Jucker went to town with his huge first win over some of our most esteemed club members in the field against Chris Watson, Ben Roberts and Dan Jones.
Everything came down to the coveted Open division. It was a tale of powerful characters with equally storied journeys to the final round, each throwing down some of the most committed sends and highlight scores all weekend. We saw the clash of The Young Gun, Josh Keenan with the lofty roll game - The President, Chris Watson as the pool refined maximalist combo threat - The Local Expert Travis Craig powered by huge sends and under the lip navigation - and finally, The Reigning Monarch Mark Britten.
Wave selection was paramount. Chris and Trav each found early solid scores in the 6+ range making the landing on some critical sections, but following those up with equal scoring opportunities proved fleeting. Josh launched into some attempts that would have easily been excellent range scores on successful landings, but it was Mark that built on an early mid range score to keep active on wave scouting to back up with a 5.87 to take a clutch lead in the last minutes - Game, Set, Match.
Mark Britten completes a wild and commanding 2023 State Titles run of back to back Open 1sts - We're ecstatic and excited to see the dominance continue representing Vic at the Nationals later in the year!
Mega thanks to Palmer Towel Co. and Voyage Surf, Ski & Skate for presenting the event and providing prize packs, as well as additional contributions from Done Coffee, BoardSox, Local legends Great Ocean Coffee Roasters, and Caine Cherubin for the awesome Aiaiai Headphones. Also to the incredible support from Warrnambool City Council, Fitz Media and Rodney Harris for capturing every moment, and especially our surf rescue and jet-ski support team. As always finally all of the Committee, judges and everyone involved with making marquee events like this happen - we can't wait to return to Warrnambool next year!
1st Tully Roberts
1st Lyndall Jucker
2nd Kylie Palmer
1st Darren Walton
2nd Dane Pope
3rd Eddie Wearne
4th Robbie Holmes
1st Ned Johnstone
2nd Travis Craig
3rd Axel Hahne
4th Joshua Keenan
1st Ryan Jucker
2nd Chris Watson
3rd Ben Roberts
4th Daniel Jones
Grand Masters (O45)
1st Nathan Clark
2nd Shane Britten
3rd Ryan Lindsey
1st Mark Britten
2nd Travis Craig
3rd Chris Watson
4th Joshua Keenan
Full results can be found at: https://liveheats.com/bodyboardingvictoria
Huge thanks to our partners: Palmer Towel Co.