The Four Elements/Roger Ward Curly Maljam Pro longboard event held at Curl Curl Beach on April the 30th took advantage of a small window in the inclement weather to host some of the best longboarding to be seen on Sydney’s Northern Beaches for decades. The surf and the conditions were so bad the day before the whole show was almost called off. Miraculously the next morning presented us with docile offshore winds and a four to six foot swell that was bumpy but eminently surfable. This unique and innovative homegrown competition sees the best professional surfers in the world mix it up with the locals in an inspirational day of traditional and modern longboarding.
The conditions challenged the entire skill- set of the participants as they had to negotiate a difficult paddle out and then constantly read the surf to select the right wave, which then had to be treated with the utmost respect. As always the best surfers accomplished all with the aplomb of consummate professionals. Curl Curl’s natural amphitheatre accommodated the huge crowd with ease and the commentators, Kieran Plimm and Lex Evans, kept us constantly in tune with the finer points of the on water exploits.
The Open 9ft celebrated the likes of the US Champ Taylor Jensen, who scored a perfect ten in the semi final, only to be eclipsed by 0.5 of a point by Dane Pioli and as a result missed out on the Final. We were all wowed by the exploits of local personality Lawrence Harkness who also scored a 10.0 in the earlier heats by executing a 360 at the take off, negotiating a barrel and finishing off with couple of snaps and a hang five. Harley Ingelby’s barrel in the Log Final left the crowd, of nearly four hundred in disbelief as he was totally engulfed by a crumbling left hander and when we all thought he was gone popped cheekily out and executed a massive re entry. Spontaneous applause erupted as the judges paid out another perfect 10.0 for the effort. Christian Pimm took to the Curly lefts and carved consistently all day but it was Snapper Rocks based Australian Champion Dane Pioli who stole the show in the Open Final with a riveting display of modern longboarding.
The surfers in the single fin log were inspirational as they handled the demanding conditions on their heavy traditional boards with immense skill and commitment. Harley just shaded Harrison Roach in the Final whilst riding a 9’11’’ log that he rode with astounding adeptness – one would have thought that he was on a high performance board as he snapped, walked, landed re entries and scored an almost ultimate beach barrel. Harrison is one of the most exciting exponents of the single fin you would ever wish to see and blew us all out with his “stretch fives” and stylish aggression. Taylor Jensen was sensational and rode his log like a marionette whilst local lad Matt Chojnacki won the hearts of the crowd when he lost his board, negotiated a 200m swim and then battled for seven minutes to get out through the smashing break. All the log surfers elected to discard their leg ropes, as dictated by the conventions of this discipline, and honored a tradition that was a testament to the ethic of surfing in the 60’s.
North Curly’s Sean Dry carved some fast running left-handers to win the over 35’s just piping Peter Fodor and Rob Smith. One of the legends of the day was the Byron Bay based Isabelle Braly who had been heavily smashed by a closeout set in the Single fin, breaking her board clean in two, but bounced back to take out the Woman’s Division ahead of Freshwater’s Sue McComb and competitive Julia Magliano. Great to see Curly’s own Nickii Langbridge make the Woman’s Final and bravely face the big seas that popped up during the Final.
The over 50’s saw a battle between the stylish Manly pair Paul O’Grady and Lynden Riley with the consistency of the former taking the day. Barney Ferasse edged in third ahead of former Australian 60’s Champ Dave Pimm. Sean Dry was also triumphant in the Toothpick Division steering his fifteen foot relic of the 1950’s through huge sets and the infamous Curly “Graveyard”.
The Under 21’s carved the lineup to establish their credentials as the champions and leading lights of the future. Beau Nixon was ruthless in the way he attacked every wave and executed the full repertoire of surfing maneuvers to take the honors from Central Coast’s Kai Ellice-Flint who bravely soldiered on after injuring himself in and earlier heat. Jack Lynch and Wyatt Cullum were impressive with their controlled aggression but failed to capitalize on the available waves in the Final. The youngest competitor in the field was Jayden McDonald who distinguished himself by completing his heat after a heavy wipeout – it is this attitude that makes for future champs.
There was consensus at the end of the proceedings that a little bit of history had been created on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. A commitment by the present sponsor and new wave of interest augurs positively for 2012.
Many thanks to the dedicated committee and helpers who worked tirelessly for months to make this happen and Tim Reilly the principle sponsor who resourced this expo is legend. We all hope to see you all at “Curly” next year for the second Maljam Pro.
Phil Nicol – President Curl Curl Longboarders.