RIDING A WAVE OF HISTORY
WINTER LONGBOARD CLASSIC CALLS SURFERS OF ALL GENERATIONS TO SHARE IN THE MAGIC THAT IS THE FEELING OF WALKING ON WATER
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.