UP FOR IT: L-R Jonny Hewett, Stu Kennedy, James Wood and Marcus Aboody of Lennox Head, will defend their Surftag title at Duranbah this weekend.
UP FOR IT: L-R Jonny Hewett, Stu Kennedy, James Wood and Marcus Aboody of Lennox Head, will defend their Surftag title at Duranbah this weekend. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Le-Ba's challenge: Bring it on!

LENNOX HEAD surfers James Wood and Marcus Aboody were the unsung heroes when their team won the $15,000 Jim Beam Surftag event last year.

The Lennox-Ballina Boardriders team boasted World Championship Tour surfers Owen Wright and Adam Melling with Stuart Kennedy in the national finals at their home beach in Lennox Head.

Le-Ba is out to defend the title this weekend when the national finals are held at Duranbah, Tweed Heads.

It was Wood who got the ball rolling for the club last year when he took out the individual Boardriders Cup before the team part of the competition.

Aboody was arguably the team's best surfer when the two-day team event began.

"To win something like that home in front of friends and family was pretty special," Wood said.

"It's tough going in trying to defend the title because every team wants to beat you.

"We struggled a bit in the qualifying round but I think we can turn it around.

"Its not too far from home and I think the conditions will really suit our guys."

Melling and Wright aren't allowed to compete in the team this year because the Association of Surfing Professionals wanted a sanction fee which Jim Beam declined to pay.

Club president Johnny Hewett and Jock Barnes come into the team with Kennedy also back again.

There will be 32 teams with World Qualifying Series surfers and former junior champions surfing.

The format is a relay-style event where each surfer has to catch three waves before returning to the beach to tag in the next surfer.

The second wave is the double points power wave and the key to winning.

"We've still got a pretty strong team and I think we're up for it," Aboody said.

"Depending on the swell and conditions I'm always pretty confident in these sort of events.

"I got some new boards off Al Emery and it's one of the more exciting events of the year.

"It's always real nail-bitting stuff in each heat and it really is a team effort.

"It's hard to get together and prepare but we've been doing this for a few years now and know what's required."

Wood will be up first tomorrow as he looks to defend the Boardriders Cup.



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