ABOVE: Byron Bay surfer Joel Paxton at the Australian Boardriders Battle.
ABOVE: Byron Bay surfer Joel Paxton at the Australian Boardriders Battle. Ethan Smith/Surfing NSW

Byron charges into boardriders national final

BYRON Bay has won the qualifying round of the Australian Boardriders Battle series event at Coffs Harbour.

It had a narrow win over Lennox-Ballina with both clubs advancing to the national final at Newcastle in February.

It was a strong field for a qualifying round with Coffs Harbour finishing third.

Anchored by former world number three and club stalwart Danny Wills, Byron took the top spot thanks to a solid showing across the teams, skins and women's divisions.

Wills attributed the club's success to the youngsters representing the club.

"For the last two years, we've brought a pretty young team as I think it's important to give everyone a go. It's exciting that way,” he said.

"It's been a great day for everyone really and I feel like I've just done a triathlon with all the surfing and running as well as the anxiety and ups-and-downs that happen when you hear results or watch heats.

"It's intense. There's such a healthy rivalry between Le-Ba and us and I think it drives both teams. They're always beating us, so it's nice to get one back on them.”

Mitch James from Kingscliff claimed the Milwaukee Heavy Duty Hack award for his consistent approach and critical moves, which helped carry his club into the final of the teams division.

The Australian Boardriders Battle Series includes more than 60 of Australia's best boardriders' clubs in eight state qualifying rounds, with the top 24 advancing.

It is officially sanctioned by the World Surf League, which allows Australian WSL Championship Tour surfers (men and women) to represent their local boardriders club at respective state qualifying events as well as the national final.

Le-Ba will most likely have professional Stu Kennedy and Adam Melling back for the national final.

The Australian Boardriders Battle program aims to build the profile and capacity of community boardriders clubs Australia-wide.

Byron Bay professional Matt Wilkinson surfed for his home club of Avoca which won the national final last summer.



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