As meat grilled on barbeques, the surf action sizzled in the water, with Dale Richards, Jay Quinn, Nick Vasicek and Yerin Brown all early standouts. In the junior event it was Chris “Ibis” Bennetts, Noah Lane and Blake Ainsworth who looked the men to beat, and the point pulsed on Sunday afternoon you’d have been hard pressed to find a more enjoyable place to be. JR team rider and hired commentary goon Tai “Buddha” Graham had been banging on about fresh swell hitting at two o’clock, and whether by luck, or Buddha having a godline to Huey, that was pretty much what it did.
After a mad Bondage expression session, in which Ibis claimed $500 for a stomped Passion Pop, and Matt Jones collected $250 for a beautifully threaded backhand pit, the finals rolled around. In the Shaper’s Australia Junior division it quickly turned into a two horse race, Bennetts and Lane clearing away from Ainsworth and Tim MacDonald. With a couple of minutes remaining Bennetts held a slim lead, and Lane took off on a bomb. He threaded a barrel, came out and linked a couple of roundhouse cutbacks, and hoped it would be enough. The commentary team had other ideas though, and kept the score to themselves, ensuring a bigger turn out at the presentation that afternoon.
25 minutes later this scenario repeated in the Open’s final, with Vasicek and local hero Anthony Pols stealing ahead of Mark Richardson and Jay Quinn by the half way mark. Vasa, as he had done all weekend, was scything sections to bits on his backhand, and he scored a near perfect 9.8 for a series of crazy, upside down blasts on one wave, to put himself in the box seat. Polsy hit back though, bullying the crap out of a big set, bringing roars from the crowds, and locking in a nine point ride of his own to take the lead. Vasa had one last roll of the dice in the final minutes, needing a high five point ride to take the trophy. He hit a medium sized wave a coupla times, then launched into a long, long, critical floater which he stomped, and waited for the commentators. Again, they kept the scores to themselves, and it wasn’t until a few hours later at the Swell Tavern that the results were announced.
In a shock for an event held at Burleigh the Open and Junior divisions had been claimed by goofy footers, and it was an ecstatic Vasa and Lane, respectively, taking the trophies. Vasa collected $2,000, four cartons of Tooheys Extra Dry (for the highest scoring wave), and a years supply of pies (for highest placed local) and now finds himself atop the QCC ratings.
“It’s been so long since I was up on stage I don’t even know what to say,” said a happy Vasa to the large and well lubricated throng.
“I thought I’d lost, I’d already asked Ibis to give me some money from his expression session winnings” laughed Lane.
And with formalities over, everyone got down to the business at hand, a Sunday session, at a beachside pub, to round out a cracking day. Perfect.