The Old Days

Event History

An annual wave event in Taranaki has been running since the early 1980’s. Some of these previous events have gathered legendary status, like the one in the 1984 where double mast Kina Road trashed a jet ski and plenty of windsurfing equipment. Or 2006 where the waves were so big, only 3 sailors made it out the back. Some years are like this, where we get full on gnarly conditions pushing on double mast high. Other years there is not much sailing and the focus of the weekend is catching up with windsurfing buddies from around New Zealand as well as the rest of the world. The best years however, are ones like 2007 with playful wind and waves suitable for sailors of all levels. The one thing that has been consistent through the history of the event, is whatever the weather conditions delivered on the day, everyone who turns up has a great labor weekend.

hist_biggy hist_dale hist_mike hist_terryWavesailing started in Taranaki in 1979 with Biggie Smithers and Paul Freeman
purchasing two 12′ blanks from Trax, and shaping up a board each. They took a foot off Pauls, while Biggie kept all 12′. Living in Oakura, and learning to sail off the beach soon gathered a crowd also keen to give it a crack. Zimmo, Ton Deacon and Glen Crozier were all hooked within a few months. By Christmas of 1980 there were a dozen guys sailing regularly. They slowly progressed from the beach, out to Butlers Reef, to Ahus, to Weld, and finally out to the Boiler.

The South Easterly was not sailed until 1983 when the Wave Sailing Downunder movie was made with Sirocco. The film crew were down capturing some Weld Road action, when the wind flicked South East. With the film crew on hand, the Sirocco team headed around the coast to try and find somewhere to get some action. Zimmo lead the crew to a beach he had seen while traveling around South Taranaki farms as a herd tester. Manihi Beach was sailed for the first time, and became the setting for the now legendary Wave Sailing Downunder Movie. Within a few months Kina Road had become THE SPOT. It was not until 4-5 years later that Fin Fuckers or Pungarehu as it is know known was first sailed.

hist_weld1983 was also the year that the Sirocco Expression Session was born. Biggie along with his popular board brand Sirocco ran the first wave sailing contest in Taranaki.. It was modeled on the Mambo event in Australia, where time on the water was maximized for all competitors. This format proved an instant success with 60-70 sailors participating. Numbers peaked in the mid to late 80s, with the biggest year recording 120 entrants. The Sirocco brand continued to grow through the 80s and 90s, while Biggie’s focus slowly shifted more towards building surfboards. By this time Carbon Art had moved into the region and were bringing the latest windsurfing shapes and technology from Maui to Taranaki’s shores. In 1998 Carbon Art lifted the load off Biggie shoulders and continued with the event rebranded the Carbon Art Classic. This continued until 2002 when the Carbon Art Classic was revamped to become the awesome Taranaki Wave Classic we know today. The TWC is about fun, with its expression session format, where competitor’s free-sail in whatever conditions occur at the chosen location for that day. There are no heats, no man on man elimination, and no stress. The winner gets glory and a bottle of bubbly, while most participants walk away with a spot prize.