The Wave Bash competitors woke to clear blue skies this morning, accompanied by a gentle, fresh north west breeze. A good sign, as this is the seasons prevailing wind, giving hope for a thermal top up to build in the afternoon.
Skippers was at 11am at the event site, Pistol River beach, not surprisingly there was no sense of urgency, with the winds being far too light for this cross on venue. Slowly the crowds gathered and at around 12pm Sam Bittner kicked of with warm welcomes to all and thank you’s for all those who helped put the event together.
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Head judge Brian Caserio stepped up next to brief the competitors on what the judges were looking for in the riding and gave tactical advice on heat approach, there was then a Q&A session and advice from a number of Pro riders, including Levi Siver, Kevin Pritchard and Camile Juban.
The next windsurfing announcement was set for 2pm. Inn of the Beachcomber followed up with hamburgers for all on the beach, which served as fuel for the next distraction, another board toss. With this one being the second in as many days, we started to see a few new slinging techniques emerging, looks like the board toss is now a serious event in its own right!
The wind very slowly began to fill in, but conditions were still far from contestable, by 3pm a few sailors had taken to the water with big kit, but planing was on and off and the waves were not holding shape long enough for riders to make any serious hits. At around 4pm Pro’s were released, with the rest of the fleets remaining on hold.
By 5:30pm the wind had shifted up a gear and for the Amateurs, Masters and Ladies the AWT Pistol River Wave Bash was on!
Conditions called for sail sizes around the 5-6m mark with 80/90ltr boards, the waves were small. I guess this is always a really tough call for the judges, we all love to see howling winds and logo to mast waves and for many competitors, thats what satisfies the competition craving, anything less, inevitably leaves some wanting. Add to that, for the first time, AWT found itself running in marginal conditions, no surprise then that a few people were unhappy, prompting discussions with the judges.
Hat’s off to the judges for making the call though, as the days pass by, the remaining forecast leaves little time to work through all the ladders for all fleets, it was pretty much now or never to get this comp started. Amateurs completed a full first round, setting up the ladder nicely for round two, the 3-4 man heats were 12 mins with 2 minute transitions and 2 waves counted, top 2 advanced.
The first heat saw Marc Bitoun and Pete Dekay make the most of the small waves, staying tight upwind near the stunning Rock stacks and attacking any sizeable wave that came through. Some of the following heats riders were drawn down wind, where the waves became less consistent at times, but occasionally the best waves of a heat would shift down, tempting riders from the upwind area.
It was plain to see, if you wanted to go through your heat, you had to fight for a good wave & aggressively punch through your top turns, ringing out as many turns as the small waves would allow. Marc Bitoun, Clayton Philipport, Attila Tivadar, Fiona Wylde, Tem Gronquist and Casey Reher all fought hard to earn top spot in their heats, second place advancers were Pete Dekay, Dwight Bode, James Lunden, Jeff Albright, Ian Stokes and Mike Colee.
The Women’s heats were really impressive. Fiona Wylde was ripping in these conditions, with solid, near vertical turns in better sections, she showed she meant business, taking the heat win. It wasn’t an easy win though, Katie McAnena was picking off some great waves, with tight, aggressive turns in the tough conditions coming through with a very close second place.
Heat two saw last year’s womens tour winner Ingrid Larouche go up against Miho Tanaka from Japan and Australian Kate Barker. Ingrid showed her winning form again, with great wave selection and punchy top turns, leaving a close battle for second between Miho and Kate. Both girls sailed well, it must have been close, but it was Miho that advanced to the final. The women’s final will be hotly contested judging by todays efforts.
As we moved into the evening, the wind started to ease and the waves showed signs of baking off, only one of the Masters heats completed, Brian Caserio, AWT head judge was ripping (no, he didn’t score his own heat, haha, Kevin Pritchard stood in for him) he managed to find a few good waves and made the most of them with solid smacks. Marty Rosse also advanced. Heat 2 was finally abandonded due to the fast dropping wind and waves.
Tomorrow’s forecast is promising, with more wind than today and from early on. There’s a 9am skippers meeting, with a call to be ready for an immediate start. A full day of wind is expected and the plan will be to run through all remaining heats, plus also completing the single for the Pro’s; a busy day ahead! Everyone is hoping for a dramatic improvement in wind and waves, but if only a marginal improvement in conditions arrives it would be worth remembering the AWT’s only rule.. No Complaining 😉
Check out the reports from day one and two on the next page…