The Week of Wavesailing: 2019 TWC Event Report

This year the 2019 Taranaki Wave Classic got off to an early start, with hordes of competitors already beginning to roll into town on Monday a week before; to take full advantage of a nice looking forecast – a week chock-full of solid westerly wind and some fun size waves. The congestion in the Waitara carpark on Tuesday meant you could certainly have been forgiven for thinking the event was being run midweek, while Weld Rd also saw more sailors on the water than usual. Our awesome range of sponsors was locked and loaded

Katrin Dau
Katrin Dau warming up for the 2019 TWC.

To the immense satisfaction of the TWC visitors, the wave size was big enough to have fun with, and friendly enough to not be intimidating. Heidi and the Water Nomads crew were in the area early and honing their skills. Sailors of all skill levels lapped it up all week, with the exception of ‘big Wednesday’, when a large swell and wind directions swinging between E-SE-S-SSW came rolling through. Most people took Wednesday off as a rest day, but our intrepid Aussie visitors tore around to the Pungarehu area, eager to check out the holy grail of NZ wavesailing. George Westra was ‘keen as’ to get out there, so he launched and gave it a decent crack. He practically made it out through the maelstrom, only to have the horizon rear up and turn into mast-high-plus whitewater in front of him, forcing him back to the beach. Solid effort George – we hope Pungarehu will turn it on for you the next time you are back!

Waitara TWC Crowd
Good times at the 2019 TWC.

By the time the official Saturday start of the TWC rolled around, most competitors already had at least two solid days of sailing under their belts and were frothing for more. The sun was out and the wind came up early. A great range of sponsors such as Gaastra & Tabou New Zealand and NZ Sailing were locked and loaded and well represented on the water and at the beach. At the briefing sailors grabbed their TWC T-shirts, a couple of TWC chocolate brownies (thanks Johanna!) and a coffee from our friendly sponsor Vertigo Surf; had a quick drool over a couple of James Dinnis shaped Carbon Art waveboards and then headed for Waitara for some port-tack action, where a fun waist high wave and plenty of breeze were combining for ‘just another day in Taradise’. Te Maunga Taranaki was clear of clouds for the first time in a week and dominating the landscape in all its glory, making for a great sight from the water. The break was a mass of colour, with 30-plus sailors at anytime grabbing some fun rides (there was some sharing…) unless they got distracted by looking at the mountain, while another 30 sails lined up on the beach. Our NZ Boardstore sponsor representative and owner Brian Smith was thoroughly enjoying being back in the waves again with a bit of power behind his gear. Meanwhile, at Weld Rd a decent crew of 20 or so enjoyed tearing up a few waves and sharing the water with ex PWA Wavesailing World Champion Scott Mckercher from West Australia. After thoroughly wearing themselves out for most of Saturday, many sailors returned to the Oakura Boardriders home base to enjoy a potent craft beer, some gourmet sausages and watch an enjoyable (depending on your point of view) game of World Cup rugby.

Severene backloop
Severene flying high.

Sunday showcased the variety of quality sailing on offer in Taranaki by dealing up down-the-line starboard tack conditions at Kina Road, with a mix of waves up to overhead high and a steadily increasing breeze throughout the day. Forty-plus sailors were counted on the north break at one stage, while those who were inclined for a smaller crowd trekked down to the south break where there were also fun waves and only half a dozen people to share them with. A good time was had by all, and what a way to spend the weekend! Some people (including your humble correspondent) got even more fun out of the day by checking that the local farmer’s electric fence was working correctly; apparently this was confirmed multiple times by a few people, and he was most grateful for the report. Carbon masts are good conductors it turns out…

Sylar disengaging.
Skylar decides to take the elevator down.

 By 6 pm the TWC crew were rolling back into the Oakura Boardriders mothership for a well earned craft beer, and some yummy Juno Gin and Fever Tree Tonic. Ferran Crespo and his magnificent Paella Catering setup dialled up some awesome paella and tapas for the masses, before we launched into the presentation and spot prizes, courtesy of the TWC sponsors – thank you all:

  • Carbon Art — debuted a new look RAW board this year – a more eco-friendly construction that includes flax fibres.
  • NZ Boardstore — provided a treasure trove of windsurfing gear and cool apparel, topped off by a Severne carbon wave boom, taken away by the TWC’s luckiest ever entrant, Tony Borland-Lye.
  • Juno Gin and Fever Tree Tonic gave us some very nice gin & tonics.
  • Water Nomads — book a trip and come check out Taranaki with them.
  • Vertigo Surf — our favourite local surf store support the TWC with a shiny new wetsuit
  • NZ Sailing — also provided a nice wetsuit 
  • Gaastra & Tabou New Zealand — brought the accessories to keep you going: extensions, harness lines and uphauls.
Scott Mckercher spray
Scott Mckercher sending some spray.

The lucky recipient of the Carbon Art waveboard this year was Olaf Wahlen, who had stated prior to the event (along with at least half the rest of the TWC crew) that this was ‘his year’. Congratulations Olaf!

Local band Banana Mundo (featuring French-Taranaki wavesailor Severene Thiebault) then got the crowd up and boogie-ing with some great Latin Afrobeats to fire the evening up, and deliver a great end to another great Taranaki Wave Classic.