The HIF Victorian SUP Titles were held April 23/24 on the Surf Coast.
The 3 events being contested were Surfing, Technical Surf Racing and an Ocean Marathon.
This year saw the largest field across the various categories with almost 80 entries and 50 individual entrants.
The weekend kicked off with the surf comp. Pt Impossible was the venue and the natural ampitheatre proved to be a perfect location for the large viewing gallery. For many competitors, this was their first surf comp, so nerves were high. The consistent, but slightly choppy conditions tested every surfer. The incoming tide producing the occasional solid set with the majority of waves being in the 2-3 ft vicinity.
In the Open Men’s there were a few early surprise exits with the final being contested between Harry Lee, Brendan Nachtigal, Kenta Ferusson and James Carew. In the end it was Harry Lee who took the win with a polished display of fluid surfing.
The Open Womens saw some determined surfing from Lucy Bell who took the win from Gwen Carbone and Kathy Naoumidis.
The O/40’s Men saw Chris Clarke [who also surfed in the Open Mens] virtually unbeatable, despite surfing with a broken toe!
And the O/50’s Men provided gripping heats, semis and a final from the experienced elder statesmen. John Takle took the win with only a couple of minutes left on the clock.
The Under 18’s was always going to be a arm wrestle between James carew and Kenta Fergusson, with Kenta taking the win. Impressive that these 2 young guns also made the Men’s Open Final.
The next event was the much anticipated Surf Technical Race. The course was set on the other side of the Posso’s rivermouth. Fortunately being held later in the day on an out-going tide meant that the waves weren’t quite as powerful. Earlier a few people paddled the area on the incoming tide and were faced with solid 3-4 ft waves, not easy when you’re trying to control 12’6” of board!
The course was short, but technical with 3 turns set within the impact zone, 2 turns out to sea and a beach run/transition. The mass start saw carnage take place between a few paddlers and boards before settling down and seeing a few small packs form. Again, for many of the competitors, this was a first foray into this style of event and judging by the smiles it was an extremely popular one! Tech racing is a race of skill, luck and chance and there will be numerous position changes throughout a race. One thing was certain, Chris Clarke looked unbeatable on the day taking line honours as well as the O/40’s title. Other categories saw Harry Lee take the Open Mens, Lucy Bell take the Open Womens, Kathy Naoumidis the O/40’s Womens, Warwick Lee the O/50’s Mens and Jean Ringrose the O/50’s Womens.
The following day the Ocean Marathon was the final event for the competition. There were a few weary bodies from the day earlier, but one wonders if there had been some premature celebratory behavior?
The course was an 18km paddle from the beautiful Point Roadknight Beach back to Torquay. This stunning course was set out to sea away from the numerous bombies. Along the way paddlers were treated to epic vistas taking in Point Addis, Bells Beach, Winkipop, Jan Juc and Torquay Point before arriving at Point Danger.
Victoria provided a perfect calm, sunny and warm Autumn day for the race.
After a decent warm up and a few waves the race fleet was off. The early pace was high before everyone settled into their respective race rhythm. Once again, for many of the paddlers, not only was this their first ocean race, but the furthest they had also paddled!
As usual, there were races contained within the main race as paddlers took different lines and either chased or followed.
Heath Meldrum powered home in 1hr 51 mins to take line honours and Open Mens, Chris Clarke not far behind in the O/40’s Men and Warwick Lee for the O/50’s Men. Anna Robertson surprised everyone [including herself] for her maiden Open Womens crown, Tiga Gilbert did the O/40’s Womens and Jean Ringrose for the O/50’s Womens and in the process coming 11th outright beating many of the men home!
The elation from many of the paddlers as they crossed the line was another reminder of how inclusive the sport has become, rather than people wanting win. The participation at this year’s State Titles was by far the biggest turnout for the event.
Surfing Vic put on a professionally run event in a location that provided the best possible conditions for each individual event.
Many thanks go to the crew at Surfing Vic who ran the event, also to those behind the scenes. The standard of surf judging was precise and the layout of both races made it fun, interesting and safe.
Sup Vic continues to be the backbone of paddling in Victoria and helps communicate to all of it’s members the vital information required for all paddling events and sessions.
The Sup Vic HMB Training Group has been the catalyst for so many new paddlers this season to train regularly and prepare correctly for races such as the State Titles. The paddle training sessions occur every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and commence at 6am. If you picture yourself getting into this then click below for more info.