The first round of the Human Cronulla Shark Island Challenge got off yesterday in perfect conditions. The East swell produced some of the best waves ever seen for the event with waves in the 4-6ft range with consistent 8ft bombs. Seven half hour, four men heats were conducted. As the event got under way, the crowd started to build to around three thousand people, lining the walk way that snakes around the Cronulla point peninsular, balconies were packed. Helicopters hovered near by with camera men taking the opportunity to capture the golden moment.
First round highlights
Heat 1 – The first heat saw current World Champion Damian King score some nice waves, continuing his form with 360 spin take offs followed by good tube rides. “At first I thought the tide was a little to low, but as we paddled out the waves were just going off. I just paddled out aiming at catching two solid waves of which I did, so I am stoked”. Toby Player also found some good barrels, “Mate you just had to sit patiently and pick the good ones out, the swell was pretty much as East as it gets, though if you waited a few would roll in with a slight SE direction allowing you to take off way outside, you were pretty much a good chance if you got those ones”. Mitch Rawlins opted to wait for the bigger sets which didn’t come through for him, though found a few good waves to get him through the heat. Jason Hazle struggled at first finding a couple during the later half of the 30 minutes heat, “I haven’t really surfed Shark Island that much, especially in those sorts of conditions. There were some heavy ones out there; I just work in around the ones that looked good. I got one good one, maybe two, just have to wait and see.”
Heat 2 – Defending Champion, Brazilian Guilherme Tamega was one of the stand outs of this heat, setting up a solid barrel roll before landing and finishing up with a solid barrel. He also got one of the best barrels of the day only to exit the barrel bodysurfing it, “My heat was a little slow but when the waves came it was good, I got two solid waves so I am happy”. Local Doug Showell scored a few good barrels as well. Joe Jordanoff found a few waves, “Yeah I got a few waves, they were just far between in my heat. On one wave I smacked my face on my board so hard I nearly put my lower tooth through my lower lip.” Michael Chapple also seemed to struggle to catch high scoring waves.
Heat 3 – Hawaiian Jeff Hubbard rode a great set wave with good combo moves, Cronulla’s Dave Ballard once again found great wave selection with good clean deep tubes, “It was definitely good to have the local knowledge out there, waves were coming in at all directions, I managed to find a few nice ones, so yeah, we will see what happens next round”. Brazilian Paulo Barcellos started well finding some good deep barrels. Shaun Cooper scraped in a few waves but couldn’t find the ones to really count, “I just couldn’t get the ones I wanted, every time the good ones came through I was either paddling out or just in the wrong spot”.
Heat 4 – Heat 4 was very consistent, though Sean Virtue once again found it hard to find two high scoring waves. Cronulla’s Chris Ricco had the unluckiest heat with some of the heaviest wipe outs of the day, though still managing to score two healthy waves, “I just seemed to getting absolutely pumped on every wave. I hit the bottom so hard on one I am just lucky I didn’t get a more serious injury. My eye is so swollen and scratched up, mate it could have been heaps worse. These things happen, I just want to look forward to the next round”. Both Steve Mackenzie and Tristan Barfield managed to find nice clean waves with hollow barrels.
Heat 5 – Australian Beau Day found some nice waves early in the heat before retiring hurt after taking a heavy wipeout requiring Jet Ski assistance. Beau landed awkwardly on the reef, slightly hurting his lower back. The good news is that he should be 100% fit for round two. “Yeah, I just landed feet first, the end result being my knees were compressed hard against my chest then my tail bone (ass) hitting the reef next. It didn’t feel good so I took the safest option and headed in. I will be getting it attended to tomorrow; I should be sweet for round 2”. First timer, Alex Bunting surfing was outstanding. Great wave selection and good positioning; Bunting scored two of the best waves of the day only to be denied with both waves blasting him off his board just meters from the channel. “I was so stoked to be able to surf such epic waves, I have never surfed Shark Island like that before, some of the barrels I got were insane. You could of drove cars through them and some; even though I didn’t make the big ones I feel that I had a good heat. Let’s hope round two turns it on again.” Benny Player scored some nice clean barrels. Josh Kirkman also surfed well with good wave selection, good barrels and a stylish executed roll.
Heat 6 – Cronulla’s Andrew Lester used his local knowledge to find good tubes, one of the stand out moves of the heat was his solid barrel roll, “Pretty happy with the waves I got. The heat started slow and luckily picked up with bigger waves coming in during the last 15 minutes”, Cronulla youngster John Showell also managed to find some nice big barrels. Hawaiian Mike Stewart started the heat of well with a good forward spin combination followed by a good tube ride though found it hard to secure a second high scoring wave. Newton also seemed to struggle waiting for the bigger ones which unfortunately eluded him.
Heat 7 – With the top of the tide during this heat the thousand or so spectators lining the headland saw some of the best waves of the event. Grahame Miller scored some classic island barrels, Ryan “Ringa” McKinnon found it hard to get into rhythm at first but managed to claw his way into a few tubes by heats end, “I just could not get in a good rhythm, the first few I caught I couldn’t finish them off with the wave pinching on the end, I ended up getting a few good ones though”. Long time Cronulla legend Warren “Wazza” Feinbier didn’t let the crowd down, taking on some of the biggest sets of the day. Dave Winchester seemed to dominate this heat scoring some of the best waves of the round; he found his way into massive barrels as well as having the crowd rise to their feet with a spectacular free fall which saw his plummet a good 2m of the top of a double up landing perfectly in the barrel below.
The reef hit list started to build as the round progressed; Western Australian Joe Jordanoff cut the inside of his lip pretty bad after smacking his face on his board midway through a heavy wipeout. Cronulla local Chris Riguccini ending up with bad facial grazing and a huge black eye after hitting his head on the reef during one of his wipeouts. Australian Beau Day finished his heat early after landing feet first and compressing his knees into his chest and smacking his tail bone on the reef at the same time.
All riders are fine and should recover 100% before the beginning of the next tidal waiting period which starts on the 17th of July.
With a weeks LAYDAY period a head, most of the competitors can now rest up and prepare for the last tidal period.
The swell predicted to drop, contest organisers will now be waiting till the 17th of July, the last tidal period of the Human Cronulla Shark Island Challenge for the start of round two.
Next tide period will start on the 17th of July
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