TWC 2009 Report

TWC 2009

Another year and another Taranaki Wave Classic! This year’s event showcased the best conditions Taranaki can offer, with an insanely epic, mast high, down-the-line, Pungarehu extravaganza! (Admittedly there was one small hitch, in that these primo wavesailing conditions occurred on the Friday-practice day, but as TWC09 Press Rep I am duty bound to report it as though it was an official competition day.) 

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The warm-up for TWC09 began early on the Friday with a convoy of eager-beaver Wellingtonians (led by Chris Brown) hauling arse out of our nation’s capital at 5 am. By 9 am they were at the holy grail of NZ wavesailing: Pungarehu. With the tide coming in the hordes hit the water and by 11 am there were around 15 – 20 sailors catching the mast high sets consistently rolling in to the beach. The wind picked up throughout the morning and by midday it was blowing 5.0 and small board weather. Perfect!

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With solid surf, and sailors ready to test themselves, there was always going to be some carnage. A few sails came back to the beach in pieces (including two in consecutive waves from the New Caledonian brothers – who also must have made the longest trip to get to Taranaki out of all the competitors. Thomas Davies (Lanky) was on the water for most of the day and was only stopped by a broken mast; probably racking up more waves in his session than all Auckland’s sailors put together over a whole year. We saw some great wipeouts and a steady stream of sailors making their way back up from ‘Crushers’–a long slow walk.

High point of the day had to be Paul Barron’s ‘aerial-into-backloop off the lip’, which he very nearly landed, although he did concede he was “mainly hanging on for the ride”. Other notable highs were Chris Brown making his debut at Pungas, and also swimming into the break to try and grab some close-ups of the action. Taranaki’s own Kevin Hoskings also made his virgin venture into the Pungarehu line up and wore a huge smile for the rest of the weekend because of it. So, if you haven’t got out there yet, sailing Pungas will make you happy – just ask Kev!

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Saturday dawned sunny, warm and… windless. We gathered at the Oakura Boardriders Club for briefing and goodie bags. Thanks to our platinum sponsors, Carbon Art and Rodgers Dental, the goodie bags were packed with loads of high energy nutrition (read sugar) for hardcore sailing and the latest in dental care products to ensure we all had the cleanest teeth around. This was followed by the all important lucky draw of the pre-entries to win a Gaastra wavesail. There were many techniques employed to tip the scales in one or another sailor’s favour, including entries sent in on heavy card and Dirk Schmidt surprising everyone by being the first pre-entry (rather than his usual last on-the-day entry). However, it was Waitara favourite Leeanne Mabin who was the lucky winner; she finally has a piece of sailing gear she doesn’t have to fight Andy and Nigel to use! Congratulations Leeanne.

Next on the agenda was the Wavesailing Tips Clinic. About 30 sailors stuck around and fired questions at our panel of experts: Woo Norris, Clayton Dougan, Mike La Franchie, Chris La Franchie and Paul Barron. Over an hour they covered topics from getting out through white water, how to hold your gear when getting rinsed, bottom turning, wave selection, and even the forward loop. A huge thanks to the panel for sharing their expert knowledge – it was definitely appreciated by everyone there and more clinics will be on the agenda next year.

Competition never looked likely on the Saturday, so everyone adjourned to Weld Road to surf, laze about and check out the styley gear from sponsors: KA Sails, Gaastra and Naish. About 3 pm the BBQ, Kev’s farm sausages and Mike’s beers were busted out, capping off a very pleasant afternoon – as good as you could hope for without wind really!

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Sunday found the TWC09 competitors heading to Kina Road in the hope of a northerly, and out of range of our radio sponsor ZM. During the ‘temperate’ afternoon the global origins of some competitors were put on show; firstly by an English couple who were strolling around practically in bikini and Speedos, raving about the heat, and how it was like summer in England! This was in stark contrast to our New Caledonian visitors, who were spotted at one point wearing wool beanies, padded jackets, hoods, woollen scarves and gloves. They had the rest of us looking around for snow clouds and wondering if we were supposed to bring snowboards. Thomas and a few other desperadoes dribbled around in some cross-on mush and most everybody surfed in the average conditions. Unfortunately decent wavesailing wasn’t on the cards for the second day running. Only one thing to do: party it up, get the hangover from hell, and the wind would blow for sure.

The 90 odd competitors (a record for the TWC) met back at Oakura Boardriders Club in the evening for some great food and a few brewskis, as well as checking out a seven minute video of Friday’s Pungarehu action from Craig. Then it was time for the awesome spot prizes supplied by our sponsors. Two GoPro cameras found happy owners, not to mention a few pairs of Dirty Dog sunglasses. Andy Mabin was lucky enough to win a gear bag from his favourite sail brand Naish and Kevin Hoskings walked away with the custom made Seventh Wave wetsuit. Other great prizes were a KA Sails sail, Stash-It board bag, Butlers Reef vouchers, Oakura Motor Camp accommodation, and product from NZ Boardstore, Zimmos, Oakura Pharmacy and Bayswater Windsports.

Of course the prize of all prizes at any TWC is the Carbon Art waveboard. James Dinnis arrived complete with a ‘board blank’ in tow; win the board and you could have whatever shape you desired! To great anticipation the winner was announced as Paul Sinclair from Invercargill. He looked pretty damn happy and gave James possibly his first ever ‘I’m so stoked I won the board’ hug. Paul followed this up by giving Vanessa a big snog, much to everyone’s amusement. Congratulations Paul. Much partying then ensued and there were also rumours of cougars in the area, however none were captured. I can say no more – wildcats are dangerous…

Solid partying by TWC competitors (until 5 am by all accounts) resulted in a better forecast for Monday and the travelling circus made its way in dribs and drabs (depending on the state of hungover-ness) down to Kina Road. About 12:30 the wind picked up from the north and Thomas (who else…) got out there to show us it was definitely sailable, with the small swell providing waves up to about head high. In the space of about 10 minutes the number of sailors on the water went up to about 30 or more and the contest was on! In the midst of all this a couple of sailors managed to get stranded and drift down to Kina Road’s south break. This was the moment we had been waiting for and a collective decision was made to bust out the jet ski for a rescue. “It doesn’t weigh much”, said Nigel. Famous last words… Ten of us took about 15 minutes to carry the damn thing 70 m down the sand, with about 15 rests along the way. The swimming sailors seemed pretty happy with the pickup though!

An hour-and-a-half of frenetic wave riding (and sharing waves nicely) found finalists for each division and the top guns were sent out for the finals. Paul Barron took out the Open Mens division, with hot competition from Clayton Dougan 2nd and Dirk Schmidt 3rd. Special mention must go to Chris Brown whose waveriding is clearly getting sharp; he made the final for the first time and came in equal 5th place. Katrin Dau grabbed 1st in the Open Womens, followed by Leeanne Mabin 2nd and Rewa 3rd. Jebbe out pointed the rest of the Juniors, with Andy Mabin in 2nd place and Thomas Davies in 3rd.

The trophy presentation was held at the beach, where Paul indulged in spraying his adoring fans with his bottle of champagne. More of Kev’s great sausages–straight from his farm–were also very popular. Thanks everyone who made the trip to this year’s event, especially those from overseas (including the South Island, and the two guys from Christchurch who bought a new car in Foxton when their original one broke down. Now that’s commitment!). The weekend had a great vibe and some great sailing as well; we can’t wait for next year!

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