Sun, swell on rise


A RISING swell and balmy beach conditions have made the 13th ICON Australia All Girls Surf Showdown one to remember for the All Girls Surfriders Club and the hundreds of competitors and their families who have flocked to the Lennox-Ballina region for the three-day event.

Day one, Saturday, was held at North Wall, Ballina, and clean one-metre plus surf.

Two banks were used simultaneously to get through the bulk of the first-round heats.

Unfortunately, the afternoon northerly left conditions a little to be desired with bumps on the wave faces.

Contest director Mel Mott was most impressed with the standard of surfing across the board and in particular that of the Under-14s and Under-16s.

Yesterday, it was back to the traditional home of the event at Lennox Head's Main Beach and organisers, sponsors and competitors alike were all smiles.

The solid two-metre take-offs and long walls allowed the girls to put on a real show, with the highest wave score of the day going to Bronte's Nicola Atherton in the Under-21s with one judge scoring her a perfect 10-point ride and the wave average rating around 9.75.

Sawtell's Kathy Newman inspired everyone on the beach with a number of carving rides with rail-to-rail top-to-bottom turns to collect a bevy of eight point-plus scores in the Over-28s. Newman has also been a major threat in the open pro division.

Boomerang Beach surfer Jessica Hickson also posted high scores and was another of the day two stand-outs, after easily qualifying for the semi-finals in the open pro and the Under-21 divisions.

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The Showdown has had a record of floating some exciting new talents and making major waves this year has been pint-sized, 15-year-old Gerroa (South Coast) lass Sally Fitzgibbons, who is competing in the Under- 16s and the open pro event, plus scored a wildcard into the Under-21 division.

Fitzgibbons, who recently took out a NSW school title, has sailed through her Under-16 heats and the open pro to reach two semi-finals.

Unfortunately, she just failed to make the grade in her Under-21s heat, finishing third.

Last year's stand-out junior, Laura Enever, of North Narrabeen, has again been charging through the Under-14s and is also backing up for a second semi-final appearance in the Under-16s.

The local girls are also shining, with former pro winner Jenny Boggis and Rachel Bonhote-Mead, both from Lennox Head, comfortably making the open pro semis, while in the open B-grade, Byron Bay's Sophie Butler and Lennox Head's Bianca Linton won their quarter-finals to advance to the semi-finals today.

In the longboards, it's an all-Far North Coast final, with Byron's Tessa Davidson and Angela King winning their semi-finals to advance along with NSW champions, Tweed's Kirsty Webster (Over-28s) and Broadwater's Amy Clarke (opens).

Davidson was especially impressive with her dynamic, progressive style.

Women's surfing has improved at an astonishing rate and the finals today will, no doubt, be clear demonstration of their world-class level.

Several semi-finals will begin today's program, with the finals due to get under way about 11am, with the Southern Cross Credit Union open pro to be the last event.

A further rise in the swell is expected and light winds and a 1pm high-tide should provide excellent conditions.

n Don't miss today's wrap-up of the 13th ICON Australia All Girls Surf Showdown, with Lennox Head again expected to be the venue. Onlookers can expect a real treat.

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