Life & Style Weekend - - READ - WORDS: DAVE MCLE­NAGHAN

Sun, sand and salt are an in­cor­rupt­ible blend of hap­pi­ness that surfers the world over can at­test to. You’ll be hard pressed find­ing some­one who quit surf­ing be­cause they didn’t en­joy the feel­ing of walk­ing on wa­ter.

With more than 20 mil­lion surfers around the world, there’s lit­tle won­der peo­ple from all walks of life, from all cor­ners of the globe, con­verge to catch waves.

Of those 20 mil­lion, roughly 170 will bom­bard The Bluff next Friday, Satur­day and Sun­day for the an­nual Win­ter Long­board Clas­sic hosted by the Alexan­dra Head­land Mal­ibu Club.

Club pres­i­dent Kevin Annetts has been in the role on and off for 30 years and is more pas­sion­ate than ever about what the club and the contest rep­re­sent.

“Long­board­ing and surf­ing are ex­tremely im­por­tant to our coast cul­ture,” Kevin said.

“It’s prob­a­bly more im­por­tant now than when we formed the Alex Mal Club,” he said.

“The club was formed on a trib­ute to the roots of mod­ern-day surf­ing with a re­spect of the his­tory of long board­ing on the coast.

“A lot of the fa­mous board man­u­fac­tur­ers made boards on the Sun­shine coast and our club pa­tron, Hay­den Kenny’s, board fac­tory was op­po­site the Alex Surf Club.

“There are a lot of peo­ple rid­ing older boards now.

“We have a divi­sion in our club contest which is the old Mal divi­sion which is for boards made be­fore 1967.

“There are lots of our younger club mem­bers out there rid­ing these boards which is a trib­ute to the his­tory of long­board surf­ing.”

One of the larger con­tests on the Sun­shine Coast and one of the long­est run­ning in Queens­land, the Win­ter Clas­sic prides it­self on be­ing fam­ily friendly.

In pre­vi­ous years it’s not un­com­mon to have found chil­dren, their par­ents and some grand­par­ents surf­ing to­gether across the 12 di­vi­sions on of­fer.

From ju­nior boys and ju­nior girls to the log­ger divi­sion, open women, old Mal divi­sion and the open 8’ divi­sion, there are op­tions aplenty for those look­ing to soak up some sun and have fun.

Kevin ad­mits he’s likely to pad­dle out with the same blokes he’s been surf­ing against for a few decades, and have fun no mat­ter what the con­di­tions are like.

“One thing about surf­ing con­tests, you’re at the hands of the weather man and Huey the wave god,” Kevin joked.

“There are two things that peo­ple re­mem­ber about surf­ing con­tests. The first one is the waves and the sec­ond one is the waves (laughs).

“Con­di­tions can be great a week be­fore the contest then it all goes pear-shaped for the contest but that’s just the way it rolls.”

While the cli­mate can’t be co­erced, el­e­ments that can be con­trolled will be the re­spon­si­bil­ity of contest di­rec­tor Drew Coul­ter.

It’s his third gig in charge and he started plan­ning for the lat­est in­stal­ment back in Jan­uary to en­sure it runs smoothly.

“I have to make sure from that first hooter at 7 o’clock in the morn­ing to that last hooter at 4.30 in the af­ter­noon that we don’t lose too much time in be­tween heats and all the judges are in place for ev­ery heat,” Drew said.

“I have to or­gan­ise the tal­ly­ing team to tally all the heats, put re­sults on the board, we need to an­nounce ev­ery­thing to keep peo­ple up to date with what’s hap­pen­ing so we are a well-oiled ma­chine.”

That means no hang­ing ten on waves as he’ll be flat out over­see­ing the judg­ing as well.

“Be­cause this is a grass­roots event, we have ac­tual surfers judg­ing the event,” Drew said.

“We have a pol­icy where two heats prior to your heat you must judge a heat. If that runs smoothly through­out the day, we never go without judges.

“We’ve al­ways done it this way. It’s been

like that since the be­gin­ning.

“We put the onus back on the surfers and they get to sit and watch what the swell’s do­ing, and while they’re judg­ing they’re think­ing about where to sit when they’re out in the wa­ter in a few min­utes’ time.”

One surfer Drew will have a close eye on is his youngest son, Cale, who’ll be com­pet­ing af­ter a strong show­ing at the Noosa Fes­ti­val of Surf­ing and Agnes Wa­ter Surf Fes­ti­val.

“He’ll go in the old Mal divi­sion, rid­ing a Luke Egan board, a 1967 model,” Drew said.

“He only ac­quired it not so long ago and he rides it well.

“He’s also go­ing in the log­ger divi­sion which will be hotly con­tested with lots of good surfers en­ter­ing.

“Kids grow­ing up now are sur­rounded by tech­nol­ogy and it’s flat out.

“I think it’s a breath of fresh air for them to do some­thing old school, rid­ing old boards, slow­ing things down and do it stylishly.

“Some of the ma­noeu­vres and tricks they do have been taken from the 60s and they put a whole new spin on it.

“It’s out of con­trol what they can do and I think they love the laid-back feel of it all.”

Cale is but just one of a long list of in­cred­i­bly tal­ented surfers set to take part.

The 2014 Aus­tralian Long­board cham­pion, Clin­ton Guest, will be hard to beat while Drew’s older brother, 11-times Aus­tralian cham­pion Damian, will no doubt be a crowd pleaser.

Ex-world cham­pion John Con­sta­ble is tipped to dip his toes in too.

Drew thinks the chance for young­sters to match it with some of the best on the planet is an in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­nity that will in­spire them to pro­duce some­thing spe­cial.

“Most of the guys en­joy long­boards and they’re good surfers, and they love com­pet­ing against these ex­cep­tional surfers,” he said.

“It brings the best out in them, par­tic­u­larly if the surf ’s good then they step their game up. They’re tak­ing it to a whole new level. Some of these kids are light weight guys and they can nose ride for­ever.

“They’re putting to­gether tricks based on things they see on the in­ter­net – they’ll take that on board then add their own spin to it.

“They’ll put their foot in the wave and stall while they’re on the nose.

“They hang their heels over the edge of the board in­stead of hang­ing ten with their toes over, they hand heels and walk back­wards on the board which is awe­some.”

The contest is open to surfers of all abil­i­ties from right around Aus­tralia.

To en­ter, head to www.alex­mal­club.org.au and fol­low the links.


SURF’S UP: Nick Jones in the 9 Foot­ers open event at the Win­ter Long­board Clas­sic, The Bluff, Alexan­dra Head­land.


GOT THE MOVES: Ai­dan Fee­ley at Alexan­dra Head­land for the Win­ter Long­board Clas­sic.


An­nouncer Damian Coul­ter.


Greg Springer, Drew Coul­ter and Pete Din­gle.


Copy of 1982 contest flyer.


Ruby Lawrance.


Nic Jor­gensen.

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