Williams in for the long ride
CHELSEA Williams' journey to the 2012 Kingscliff Australian Longboard Surfing Open started in Perth when she was 16.
Now 26, the Tweed resident who came here to earn money from the sport has since learned it is not as lucrative as she might have hoped.
Even major competitions' top prizes generally only offer a few thousand dollars.
But she is not fazed.
"I don't ride short-boards professionally, because I particularly enjoy longboarding," Ms Williams said.
"Longboarding is more fun; it's easier to get waves."
And, after all, she is the current world number four.
The professional of 10 years came here because she "wanted to win, wanted to be the best".
And she'll get her chance from March 21 during the five-day competition featuring Association of Surfing Professionals Longboard Qualifying Series athletes from all corners of the globe.
Ms Williams has won this event six times, though not during 2011, which fuels her hunger.
"I was knocked out during the 2011 semi-finals," she said.
"Surfing brought me here originally, when I came here with my grandparents to hopefully make a career out of it.
"It's been fun, but I've not really been making a lot of money.
"I work part-time at BiLo Banora Point while doing a bit of travelling - usually for comps.
"It's definitely hard: most of the other girls have a major sponsor, and I would like one but I'm probably getting too old."
Event director Sean McKeown said there was much more to the competition than watching Ms Williams rip - insofar as one can on a longboard - into "Kingy's" waves.
"The event will feature amateur surfers, a tandem surfing display and historical boards being ridden," Mr McKeown said.
"There is also the opportunity for spectators and those that identify with other aspects of the surfing lifestyle to come together to enjoy other aspects besides just the waves with music, art, cars, movies, bikini parade and market stalls.
Ms Williams said spectators would experience that which motivates professional longboarders: a more "mellow, more relaxed" atmosphere.
"It's not super fast; a more cruisy experience," she said.
"Some girls are pretty hectic, but mainly we just share the waves around in the heats.
"I've made so many friends from around the world.
"It's so good: I stay with them and go places.
"I want to win this year."
- The Cinemax Theatre will also show longboard movies on March 22, such as an exclusive screening of BeLong by Luke Sorenson with never before seen snippets about and vision of local surfers.
- Stand up paddling clinics will run March 24 from 9.30am (NSW).
- Kallalu Art offers a kid's tent on Saturday and Sunday from 10am for $10.
- Local musicians and bands will perform live on Saturday from 2pm.
- A seafood cooking demonstration will be performed by award winning restaurant Fins' head chef Eoin Shoemark.
- During the Surf Vehicle Shoe and Shine classic surf vehicles will feature on Sunday.
The Kingscliff Australian Longboard Surfing Open is supported by Green Aussie Cleaner, Tweed Shire Council and My Daily News.