The Australian National Titles is always an extraordinary experience, and this year, Bodyboarding Victoria took the biggest team in recent history. Apart from our standard allocations, we managed to get several wildcard entrants into the competition and have them represent Vic.
The Australian Surf Championships is held almost a month every year and consists of 5 disciplines: Bodyboard, Shortboard, Longboard, Logger, and Para. For the last number of years, this has been held in Port Macquarie, NSW, and brings over 500 athletes to the area in what is the biggest competition globally of its type.
The Vic team were watching the swell forecast closely after hearing that it had been a slow winter for swell. The two days before the event started were less than waist high. A number of us caught up to surf lighthouse beach on Sunday in very mediocre conditions. After looking at Swellnet, we knew there would be swell from Monday afternoon.
On the first day of the comp, we were greeted by 2-foot waves at Lighthouse Beach. The first heat in the water was Open Mens, with Vic having a decent representation in this round.
Team Vic had three athletes in heat two: Ryan Jucker, Travis Craig and Chris Watson. It was a hard heat for waves, and all were looking for an opening, but in the end, Ryan was in 2nd, myself in 3rd, and Travis in 4th in a close heat. Luckily enough, for us, at nationals, 3rd and 4th places of the first round go through to a repo charge round. 2nd goes through to quarters.
In heat 4, round 1, Ben Roberts surfed a classic Benny heat, catching 10 waves in 20 minutes with a combo of silky-smooth spins and rolls! Two of those waves netted him a 4.25 and 6.70 and a 2nd place, giving him a spot in the Quarter Finals.
Next up was the Masters, and we had Ryan representing us in heat one; Ryan was unlucky with wave choice and went through to the repo charge round. Chris and Ben had the same luck, making for a repo charge round with 3 Victorians in it.
Tully Roberts was next up in the U/18s and put together a good heat, bypassing the repo charge round and landing with 2nd.
Tully then surfed in the U/16s and put together an epic heat with a 6.75 top wave and a 3.95 backup, pushing him into 1st place and into the semis. Tully's smooth style was looking great out there.
In his first time representing Victoria at Nationals, Dane Pope barely broke a sweat, catching 3 waves and winning the heat with 7.68 and 6.25 scores. It is amazing to watch Dane's smooth style on the knee.
Nathan Clark represented us up next and snuck past the competition to take the lead in the first round, winning by 0.17. This put Nathan through to the semi-finals, making his biggest fans, his parents, Chubb's, and Coral, extremely happy.
There was a location change on day 2, with the swell picking up and being met by beautiful glassy conditions at North Haven. The sun was out, and the surf was good for another day of competition.
Travis Craig was first in the water in the repo charge round and was unlucky with waves, resulting in a 13th place overall. And fantastic effort, considering that this was the first year he's ever competed. Travis has a very bright future in front of him for competitive surfing.
Next, the heat was Mark Britten and Ryan Jucker in the water. As the current state champion, Mark was the first seed in the open, which meant he skipped the elimination in the repo round. Unfortunately, Mark was left looking for waves and finished with a 13th position. Ryan kept busy during the heat, progressing through to the semi-finals. Ryan's competitiveness is shown by getting the highest wave score in that heat.
Round 3 heat 3 Saw another two Victorians head-to-head with the overall winner from last year and what ended up being the winner of this year. Ben Roberts and Chris Watson surfed against overall winner Kai De Legh and last year's winner John Cruickshank in what was a pretty high-scoring affair. Almost every rider had a heat score that was double figures, with some excellent scores going down. Chris and Ben were unlucky not to progress, with heat scores that would have won a lot of other heats.
Lyndall was up Next in the women's final. Lyndall's love of left-handers led her a little bit astray because there wasn't much opportunity on the left. She was looking for another wave and finished the first final in third position.
Over 35 masters, Repocharge's round was an almost all Victorian affair besides Mitch Curtin, Chris Watson, Ryan Jucker, and Ben Roberts surfed in this round. Ryan and Ben got busy early with high scores, riding their way into the semi-finals. Mitch and Chris couldn't find the required waves, with Chris inspecting the bottom very closely in one of the wipe-outs.
Tully Roberts surfs back-to-back heats in both U18s and U16s. Unfortunately, Tully missed out on making it to the U18 finals by .7 of a point, landing him in 5th place for that division. He got the job done in the next heat by winning the semi-final and cementing his spot in the final for U16.
Finals Day saw another fantastic morning, with beautiful weather and glassy waves. An early start was required to miss the wind forecast for lunchtime.
Up first was Ryan, in Open Mens, who was looking for opportunities, but they didn't come his way. I'm really proud of Ryan's first nationals to finish with a 7th position in the Open division!
Tully surfed strong in the cadet's final. However, the competition was fierce. These juniors keep getting better and better. From 2nd to 4th, there was only half a point in it. It came down to the end, with Tully placing forth. Congratulations to Tully on a fantastic result!
Dane Pope, looking stylish as ever, progressed to the DK finals with the highest wave score in the DK semi-final.
Nathan Clark had one every heat until this point in the 0/45s. He had been on fire in the previous rounds. Nathan started off the heat slow and mid-way netted a 5-point score. He needed an 8-point plus score to win, and in the last 15 seconds, he turned around and took off. He pulled into the barrel, came out and launched a roll, and then another loopy roll to finish. It was the wave of the heat. After the buzzer went, scores were dropping, and it was enough to get Nathan the win!
The Victorian team went wild, and so did Nathans's parents! I think Nathan even got a bit emotional about it!
Dane Pope finished his campaign with 3rd place in drop knee against some challenging conditions.
By the time Dane surfed, the wind had come in, and it was getting very lumpy; opportunities were harder to find.
Ryan Jucker continued his strong form in the Masters final, finishing with a 12.93 and a 3rd place position. The standard in that division was epic, and high scores were dropping. It's a tough heat when you are combod with a 12-heat total. Epic job to Ryan, who was up on the podium for his first nationals.
Lyndall Jucker has been our first female representative at nationals for quite a number of years. The number of female bodyboarders has been low, and we were super excited to have Lyndall surf at her first Nationals. Lyndall did a fantastic job keeping busy with spin roll combos and was looking for the elusive lefts. Lyndall came away with 2nd place in the women's, a tremendous effort for someone with limited prep due to an ear injury!
Once again, we are so proud of our team and so stoked to have a significant representation in this event. It was great to get wildcard spots to nationals and to have the biggest team in recent history.
Shout out to everyone who supported the team, and well done to the riders!