The Australian Championships Showdown
The 2013 Jim Beam Surftag Australian Championships begin Friday April 5, Duranbah Beach, Coolangatta
After a whirlwind national tour calling the country’s best boardriders to centre stage, the 2013 Jim Beam Surftag Australian Championships is the last step in crowning the best surfing club in the country.
From as far as Margaret River in the west and Torquay in the south, 32 teams will round out the biggest field ever to surf for the coveted title and, with a massive $15,000 and a 7-day exotic boat trip up for grabs, expect to see ruthless competition.
With one glance at the high-profile names expected to compete, there’ll be no shortage of world-class surfing. Some of the standouts include two-time World Junior Champion Jack Freestone (D-bah), Quiksilver Pro trials winner Brent Dorrington (D-bah), Mark Mathews (Maroubra), Tom Whitaker (Bronte), Cooper Chapman (North Narrabeen), Perth Standlick (Bondi), Nic Muscroft (Torquay), Dion Atkinson (Seaford), Craig Anderson (Merewether), Stu Kennedy (LeBa), Russ Molony (North Shelly), Dean Brady (Noosa), Jay Phillips (Snapper Rocks) and Wade Carmichael (Avoca).
After qualifying through their regional titles, teams will surf through two days of cutthroat heats with a National Champion to be crowned on Sunday. Although, action will begin on Friday with the Jim Beam Boardriders Cup, the individual competition to crown the champion of champions of grass-roots surfing.
Four-time Jim Beam Surftag National Champions North Narrabeen will be hoping to resurrect their dominance after a disappointing result last year. The club have rounded-up the famed beach’s biggest names including Nathan Webster, Davey Cathels, Chris Davidson, Cooper Chapman and Nathan Hedge. In his first year competing in the Jim Beam Surftag after turning 18, Chapman – a rising-professional - is amped to take their club back to the top this weekend.
“After last year, the boys are really hungry to bring home that title. I’ve grown up watching them win this event so to get the call up now is awesome.”
“If we can all surf a solid heat and complete our waves, there’s no reason why we can’t beat everyone by a mile.”
While North Narrabeen have the advantage of experience, Bondi Boardriders from the south side of Sydney have strong momentum coming into the event. Perth Standlick, the leading surfer from the city beach, said the close-knit club has a care-free approach to competition.
“As much as we want to win, the boys don’t take it too seriously and put heaps of pressure on it and that’s what I think makes us do well,” he said.
“There are some big names in other clubs but I don’t think it matters because everyone has a chance. It all comes down to how your team performs as a whole.”
The Jim Beam Surftag Series involves teams of five surfers who compete in a relay-style format. Each surfer must catch three waves and then return to the beach to ‘tag’ their teammate. But any winning team knows the key to trumping their opposition is to solidify on the second wave that scores double points, known as the ‘power wave’. Securing a high score on a power wave has seen teams jump from last position into first, meaning no heat is ever over until the final hooter.
That’s pretty much what it’s up to – that power wave,” says Molony, an ex-elite competitor on the World Qualify Series. “Even if you take a bit more time to get that wave, it’s the most important part of the heat because if you nail that power wave, that’ll be the clincher for you.”
Bonus points are awarded to teams who finish within the time frame and the top two highest scoring teams progress to the next round.
Victorian, Cahill Bell-Warren, a Torquay Boardriders competitor, said D-Bah are going to be hard to beat with the comfort of being at their local break.
“D-Bah are definitely in the box seat. They don’t have the same selection problems because of the travel that a lot of other clubs have. They’ll be going in full-strength and have the support of a local crowd.”
LeBa (Lennox Head and Ballina) are the defending Australian Champions but a back-to-back victory will be hard fought with the 32-strong field team hungry to get their hands on the title and hard-fought bragging rights as the country’s best boardriders club. Visit http://www.globalsurftag.com/draw/2013/2013AUSJBSHeatDraw.pdf for heat draw.
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