TWC 2018 Event Report – Kina Road Fun Times

Welcome to Taranaki Wave Classic 2018! Taranaki locals could have been forgiven for thinking that the 2018 Taranaki Wave Classic was a week long competition, given the numbers of cars with TWC entrants inside showing up at all the regular breaks of Waitara, Weld Road, Pungarehu and Kina Road, from the Monday through to Friday of the lead-up week. The early part of the week started with decent westerly breezes and a small swell, that could almost [somewhat unkindly] have been described as ‘chop’. Plenty of sailors got out on the water at Waitara to enjoy some fun blasting and jumping conditions, while Weld Rd and the beach at Oakura had some slightly larger bumps to ride, as long as you kept one eye fixed closely on the rocks.

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As the lead-up week wore on the swell size increased, and coordinated with a decent south-east breeze on Thursday to provide some fun size conditions at Pungarehu, for locals and visitors alike. Waves about head-high were perfect for the sailors to get the feel for Pungarehu and push their limits.

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Overnight the swell increased a little more and combined with a longer period delivered some great waves on Friday, at both of Kina Road’s North and South breaks. The weather forecast was spot on and a light northerly breeze was just strong enough to enable a serious crew of TWC frothers to get on the water and catch some really fun rides; with any luck underneath the ‘eye-in-the-sky’ drone being masterfully operated by Paul van Bellen. The sun was out, the water had warmed up a touch (believe the locals, it was warmer than a few weeks back!) and the waves were firing. Good times!

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Briefing on the Saturday was at Oakura Boardriders Club above the Vertigo surf shop, where TWC competitors could grab a coffee to enjoy with a Molly Woppy gingerbread man from the TWC goody bag. The latest TWC T-shirt and hoodie design from Spore* was proudly on display and the TWC crew were super-pumped after getting out on the water over the last few days. Headlining sponsor Carbon Art had a couple of great waveboards on show and ready for demo; NZ Boardstore was also in town and ready to roll with toys aplenty.

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There was a great turnout of over 80 TWC entrants. Paul van Bellen, George Westra and Forrest Ladkin flew over from the east coast of OZ, where they sail some fun spots in Sydney, Warilla and Gerroa; (you can check out some of Paul’s awesome footage of them sailing their local breaks on the Seabreeze website’s forums).

Kina Rd was announced as the destination of choice – the long period swell was still hanging in there and fingers were crossed for another northerly to lift up, just like on the Friday. The convoy headed off, with a few detours along the way to take advantage of the surf, sun, and generally glassy conditions.

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At Kina Rd the local farmer who had decided to stay in his beachside bach for the long weekend must have wondered what was going on when forty-plus cars pulled up outside, including some large trailers like that of GA Sails/Tabou NZ. Drug bust – we had him surrounded! Paddleboards, foil surfboards, surfboards, wind-SUPs, and windsurfers were everywhere. There was some good surfing to be had right out front at ‘Kina Middles’, and on the south break where a few hardy souls made the trek across the low tide rocks to catch the peeling waves on the point. Eventually the bump on the water from the light northerly got too much for most of the surfing crew, at which point a dozen or more keen wavesailors managed to inch their way up to the North break and succeed in catching a few waves. They did have to share these in true TWC style with some equally keen TWC SUPers.

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Saturday evening saw plenty of the TWC crew hanging out back at the Oakura Boardriders club, enjoying some fine Brew Mountain craft beer with a ciabatta and BBQ sausage, which proved extremely popular after a solid day at the beach.

The light wind forecast for Sunday meant Weld Rd was designated as the meeting spot; a little swell was still running there and at Oakura Beach for some fun morning surfing. After lunch the cloud had burned off and most TWC competitors headed for Waitara in the hopes of a stronger seabreeze, with a solid twenty people on the water by mid afternoon, making the 10 knot westerly work for them. Chris McLeod may have spurred on everybody’s enthusiasm by planing off the beach and causing a rigging frenzy in his wake. It turned out Chris had not mentioned he only weighs around 60-some kilos and was on a 100 litre board, so he could possibly have been accused of false advertising. No matter – people were out there and catching a few waves, including some occasional shoulder high sets.

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Sunday evening was of course the awesome TWC party. This year ex-Taranaki local, the one and only Ferran Crespo, was on deck with his amazing Paella Catering NZ mobile kitchen bringing a great Spanish flavour to the evening’s activities. Three different paellas were prepared by Ferran and West Coast Sails representative and TWC sponsor Tim Slatter, all receiving a resounding thumbs up. We also got to check out some awesome drone footage from Paul van Bellen and some great pictures of the sailing over the past week by Bevan from Whio Photography – thanks to you both for getting the cool action shots.

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After dinner, and some frenzied voting by your peers, the trophies were given out. Heidi from TWC sponsor and water sports rental gurus Water Nomads won the King of the World trophy, for showing mad amounts of enthusiasm for all the conditions on offer. The Crash Test Dummy award was proudly received by Josh Flipp, who ‘snapped a fin off while bottom turning…’. Was there a rock involved? No one is saying… The Grommet 2.0 trophy was handed out to rapturous applause, but received with slightly less enthusiasm by the TWC’s headline sponsor, Carbon Art’s own James Dinnis. James was a clear winner in this category in the eyes of many, for getting out in the super light northerly on Saturday, making his way upwind to the break and catching a wave! Bikkie took out the Proud Peacock award for hitting the water with sails that may have been more duct tape than sail cloth. Lastly, Luca and Frankie Borland-Lye were awesome winners (and hoodie fashion advisors) of the Ocean Ranger award, doing some great beach cleanup during the weekend. Many thanks to them both!

The spot prizes were up next and there were plenty – a sail from S2 Maui, mast extensions from GA Sails/Tabou NZ, a Severne sail, a mast, a wetsuit and a whole swag of other items from NZ Boardstore. Vertigo provided some cool hoodies, Water Nomads delivered a couple of Xensr tracking devices and the sexiest waterproof bum-bag this side of Oakato. West Coast Sails donated a custom made gear bag and then it was time for the wicked cool uber-prize of the Carbon Art waveboard. Luckiest person in the room was Tony Borland-Lye, not only winning the waveboard, but winning it twice, after having already scored it back at the TWC 2008! With the official ceremonies over the partying kicked into top gear, with the usual suspects kicking on until after 3 am. Overall it was a great weekend with something for everyone. Major thanks must go to James Dinnis and Chris La Franchie, who have put some seriously hard work to make the TWC such a great event over recent years. Thanks of course to the whole TWC committee, including Katrin Dau and Craig Williams, along with Chris Jenkins and Paul Barron, for all their assistance. Thanks as always to our wonderful sponsors – we really appreciate your support each year.

See you all next year for TWC 2019!

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