Gary Gleave slices through a wave in a men’s Old Mal heat at the Evans Head Longboard Invitational at Evans Head on the weekend.
Gary Gleave slices through a wave in a men’s Old Mal heat at the Evans Head Longboard Invitational at Evans Head on the weekend. Jay Cronan

Poor conditions at Evans Head

THE 20th annual Evans Head Longboard Invitational has soldiered on over the long weekend in poor surfing conditions.

The weather yesterday deteriorated into a steady easterly gale with incessant rain while on Saturday the conditions were marred by two extended wind and rain squalls.

Despite the dubious quality of the surf, the standard of competition on the water was excellent as shown by the 9-foot open semi-finalists racking up scores of 8-plus in wild 2-metre surf yesterday.

Standouts in the division included Jared Neal (Sapphire Beach) and Ruben Roxburgh (Evans Head), who finished first and second respectively.

Hawaii beckons for the pair who are set to compete in the world longboard titles there next month.

In the other semi-final in the 9-foot open division, Heath Norrish (Tweed Heads) and Ben Dickens (Lennox Head) finished a comfortable first and second.

But in perhaps the biggest upset of the day, Emerald Beach’s pro longboarder Paul Scholten failed to progress through to the semi-final round after being nipped by local surfer Aaron Smith-Hicks for third place.

In the open women’s semi-final yesterday, Ballina’s Isabelle Braly and Scotts Head’s Kirra Perry got the first and second in difficult, low tide conditions and will be threats in the final today.

They will be joined by the Saturday standouts, Torquay’s Emma Webb and Tweed Heads’ Prue Donohoe. Byron Bay’s Roisin Carolan and Gold Coast’s Michelle Harris have also qualified.

While the adults braved the stormy weather, organisers had to cancel the Fleas and Ants fun division for the Under-12s due to the conditions.

Eleven finals will be contested today following the semi-finals of the Bic Surf Open and Mystery divisions.

Although the testing conditions are expected to continue, contestants and spectators are set for some inspiring longboard surfing through the final day of the event.

The beachside markets are expected to go ahead in the car park area as usual.

Apart from the open divisions, the age divisions Over-35s, Over-45s, Over-50s, Over-55s and Under-18 boys will provide plenty of fine surfing.

In the Over-60s, Australian champion Alana Atkins (Byron Bay), inaugural Australian champion, Ross Casslick (Broadwater) and inaugural Evans Head Invitational 9-foot open winner Vic Mulawa (Billinudgel) head up a field that represents almost 300 years of surfing experience.

In the Bic Surf Open, Ruben Roxburgh will seek to defend his title with strong challenges expected from Heath Norrish (Tweed Heads) and Jared Neal (Sapphire Beach).

Evans Head’s Isaac Fields, who has won events from Noosa to Manly, is one of the top exponents of vintage surfboard riding in the world and is expected to be hard to beat on his home turf in the other feature division, the Old Mal (for boards made pre-1968).



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