TWC 2006 Report



Can you handle double mast High Swell?

Day 1

The waves were big, very big.

The forecast leading up to the event was awesome with almost perfect riding conditions guaranteed. There was a new swell arriving early Saturday morning, fresh for the crew to hit it on the first day of the competition.
During registration and briefing at the Carbon Art Factory in Okato, I could clearly hear the sound of waves breaking. The factory is approximately 6km from the beach! This was enough for butterflies to start flapping in my stomach!

When the crew first pulled up at Kina Rd, every 10 minutes or so there was a clean up set closing out right along the coast. For those of you who know the Kina break, the north peak and the south peak were meeting in front of the car park closing out about 400m from the shore. I’ve heard since, that it was too big for every big name surfing break along the coast.

The waves were probably close to double mast on the outside peak. No-one was man enough to take off right from the peak. The inside part of the wave was still an easy mast and a half. We were lucky that the conditions were self regulating; only those who were truly prepared were able to get onto these monsters.

With visibility less than a kilometer, sailors were disappearing into the haze while getting onto the swells. There was no hope of rescue, and the slightest hesitation or mistake would have resulted in a severe punishing in the south point. No-one could hold onto their equipment when getting washed by waves that big. It was also extremely unlikely that anyone could catch up to their equipment after a rinsing. The rip was just too fast. No jet skis or boats could launch or even survive the conditions out there. There was no hope of rescue from a helicopter. The visibility was less than 1 kilometer. Everyone knew that they were on their own if anything went wrong.


The amount of water moving along the coast was amazing. This made the rip horrendously strong in the same direction as the wind, from north to south. This meant that as soon as the sailors got over the first few white waters, the sideways drift took all wind from the sail. Imagine the feeling of planeing out over the first line of white water then falling of the plane, starting to sink and looking up at white water stacked up further than anyone could see. Even those standing on the sand dunes could not see as far as the outside peak. The guys in the water had no idea whether a clean up set was on the way or not. Blind faith and a little luck resulted in the day ending without significant injury or broken gear, just the usual stuff, sails and fins.

There was a surge coming up the rocks of about 5 foot. As the sets receded dozens of rocks were being exposed in the bay. Lots of spectators witnessed the planeing backwards trick. Bikkie was going out, but the set surging in was moving faster than he was. From the perspective of the beach he was planning backwards. At the time, this move gave him the most points of anyone so far for the day.

Of the 70 sailors on the beach, only 10 hit the water, and only 3 of those made it out the back. Chris La Franchie, James Court and Shannon O’Neill a visiting Aussie, were out there risking their lives for a little glory, and showing how big their balls were. Saturday was ruled by these three brave men.

In the afternoon, the haze lifted slightly giving sailors a look at the outside wave. Some of the boys started frothing at the mouth and redoubled efforts to get out there. James Court made it first; this was an incredibly brave thing to do. It is not his home break, and none of the locals had made it out yet. James rode wave after wave, making drops that lasted for 5 heartbeats, (probably felt like 20 heartbeats for James while riding). The adrenalin rush must have been awesome. No chemist has yet perfected a drug to make people feel that good. The bottom turns were lasting what seemed like minutes. The 15 knot cross offshore wind made smooth carving walls. The part of the wave the boys were riding was a little shouldery, but no-one in their right mind would be hitting lips in conditions of this size.
Chris followed James and Shannon out. It took him 6 attempts before the ocean allowed him safe passage out the back. Each previous attempt he went over the first few white waters, then had to chicken gybe with no wind in the sail, in front of a mast high wall of white water. After finally getting out the back, he rode the deepest and hit the most critical sections of the day.

Day 2

Sunday was a relief for those who left brown staining in their wetties on Saturday. The wind was a little stronger and the waves a little smaller. Getting out was much easier as the sets were peeling down the point leaving a good channel to kick out of the wave into. The set waves on the outside section were still well over mast high, but the waves between the sets were a little smaller. Because the wind was of planeing strength, the time in the break and therefore number of waves to go over was minimized. More people went out to show off their stuff this time. About 10-20 people were on the water and the waves were giving up some great rides.

A rain squall after lunch made the wind drop, and the decision was made to pack up and prepare for the party, which went off. Yet again the organizers threw a good party. The great DJ was backed up by UNLIMITED booze behind the bar.

Prize Giving

The evening started with a big screen playing video of the two competition days followed by more NZ action from Deepfried and Vidman. As the alcohol flowed, the prizes were given out and the placings’ announced.
It was very hard to judge who beat who in the epic conditions, but no-one was surprised by the guys who were in the top ten. All these guys were out there catching waves, when everyone else was trying not to catch a cold on the beach.

First place was a toss up between James Court and Chris La Franchie. These two guys stood out on both competition days by the number of rides and consistently being in the pocket of the wave. In the end it was probably the local knowledge factor that resulted in Chris La Franchie, being named winner of the TWC 2006.

Lots of people received prizes well in excess of the cost of their entry fee. This would have made the weekend so much better for those who were not experienced enough to ride the huge conditions of the event this year. Thanks to everyone for turning up and making the weekend a success even though the weather was wet and cold. Taranaki did turn on a real treat as most had never seen waves that big before. Come again next year and maybe the weather gods will toss up something a little more friendly for the sometime wave sailors.

A shout out must go to the event organizers. The event was slick and the party rocked. An example of the effort these guys went to was a taxi turning up with chauffeur driven vodka and red bull out to Oakura during the early hours! It’s fantastic that all entry fee money is ploughed back into the competition for everybody to have a good time.

A big thank you goes out to all the sponsors, when buying equipment remember who supported your competition and take the chance to help these guys out. Support your local shop and try to buy local. There are some great local manufactures turning out top quality product for competitive prices.

Final results are tabulated below, but I think the spectators were the most hardcore on the day. They really showed the passion and dedication windsurfers have. Those who did not or could not sail, stood on the beach all day, ignoring the rain squalls and wind chill just to watch a few guys brave the wrath of Tangaroa. Just further proof of the wind addiction our partners complain about.

1st Chris La Franchie
2nd James Court
3rd Chris Norris (Woo)
4th Paul Barron
5th Clayton Dougan
6th Stephen Breayley (Bik)
7th Mike La Franchie
8th Lawrence Young
9th Tom Taylor
10th Jason Coxhead