By Matt Cleary, Tuesday 4th October, 2022.
In massive surf at Queenscliff Beach the Avoca Boardriders Club have held off fast finishing North Narrabeen Boardriders to take out the SURFTAG Men’s event on Saturday while Long Reef Boardriders took out the 2022 SURFTAG title.
Was that “massive” surf? It’s a trope that surfers tend to under-estimate the height of waves – no-one likes a big-noter.
“But it’s been easy eight foot,” SURFTAG chief Steve Harrison told The Beaches Champion. “Sometimes bigger.
“It’s been a huge day.”
It was a huge day for Long Reef which capped a huge six weeks for the booming northern beaches club.
While their team finished just out of the men’s final in fifth position, a win in the Junior event, second placings in Master’s and Grommet’s, and a third in the Women’s, saw Long Reef finish on 4060 points, runaway winners over a tight chasing pack of North Narrabeen (3535), Queenscliff (3365) and North Avalon (3345).
North Shelly, Elouera, Bondi, Scarborough, Dee Why and Maroubra rounded out the top 10.
Asked for the secret to Long Reef’s success, team manager Tim Grainger said “depth”.
“We did really well but one thing people don’t know, we didn’t even field our best sides.
“We had lot of people away so people had to step in. And that’s the biggest thing: people came in and did the job.
“Everyone wants to do their best for the club. They’re proud to surf for the club. And that’s not just surfers. Supporters, families, everyone wants the club to do well,” Grainger said.
Participation at Long Reef is booming. This year was the first that they fielded a women’s team in SURFTAG.
“We’re big on diversity and inclusion at the club,” Grainger said. “Everyone’s welcome. Traditionally it’s been a hard thing to get women into boardriding clubs. We want to build on our success.”
The men’s event at Queenscliff was an exciting affair which saw Avoca post a commanding 77.91 including a four-point bonus for using all five surfers.
In fact they’d used them all with 20 minutes of the final to go, which meant a nervous wait as powerful North Narrabeen came from behind to post big numbers.
With three waves to go North Narrabeen needed 33 points. Tough but not impossible.
Kai Warner got them within 21 points with one big hit. It was all up to Jack Bannister. Two waves and 21 points? Again, tough but do-able.
Bannister’s first wave recorded 4.57. He’d need more than seven.
Minutes passed. Bannister had them up his sleeve.
Then he finally got on one. The event came down to this. He rode it hard. There was a cut back. And another one. It was a fine ride.
As he rode in on his belly judges did their thing. The score?
6.17. Double it. Add a two-point bonus and … Avoca had won by 2.05 points.
Avoca were best served by their fifth surfer Finn Hill who scored 20.89 in his two waves.
He said it was a nervous 20-minute wait on shore.
“But we were very confident coming down here,” Hill said. “We always thought we were in with a good show at this beach.”
Early on the surf was so big that to reduce paddling time the ‘tag’ nature of the event was modified so that two surfers from each team were out all times. They still had to surf in order but one guy could bob about out the back.
A blustery sou-easter kept things cool while the “Beach Closed” signs showed that only experts should enter the water.
Seconds into the final one did: Avoca’s Sandon Whitaker ripping off an 8.00. His 15.8 for two waves got the Central Coast crew away to an early lead.
Van Whiteman of North Avalon Surfriders – famous “NASA” – was disappointed with 2.50 and a 1.63 double-score power wave. So was Davey Cathels of North Narrabeen with 1.43
But there were scores out there. And Cathels collected: from the very tip of a monster he amassed 14.66 on his power wave to get North Narrabeen straight back amongst the leaders.
“There’s plenty of early nerves and some mistakes early on. But the mistakes are evenly spread,” declared commentator Ryan Bridges.
Elouera’s Ben Dewhurst broke his board in half – not ideal. Particularly when Cooper Chapman delighted fans with a 6.17 power wave that sent North Narrabeen into the lead.
But Avoca hit back – Lennox Chell ripping off 7.00 and 5.10 power wave.
Meanwhile Arch Whiteman of NASA waited for a power wave. Patience led to nearly 15 points. Pretty good. But still 12 points last. With 30 minutes to go. They would need a miracle.
There would be no miracle. Byron Stapleton ripped off a 6.37 power wave for Avoca. Finn Hill hit a 7.53. They were running away with it.
When Hill posted 6.67 on the power wave the title was theirs – it just took them a while to own it.
After two years lost to Covid-19, event organiser Harrison was thrilled that the SURFTAG Series – now in its 19th year – is now a five-event series.
“It’s been a massive few months and glad to be back running the Series,” Harrison told The Beaches Champion. “
“The inclusion of the Grommet’s and Master’s events was a huge success and good to see the old boys representing their boardriding club’s. With up to twenty-five surfers competing for each club over the five events, SURFTAG really does crown the best club in the Country.”
2022 SURFTAG Series Final Rankings
Long Reef Boardriders 4060
North Narrabeen Boardriders 3535
Queenscliff Boardriders Club 3365
North Avalon Surfriders 3345
North Shelly Boardriders 3225
Elouera Boardriders Club 2810
Bondi Boardriders 2680
Scarborough Boardriders Club 2560
Dee Why Surfing Fraternity 1560
Maroubra United 1560
Avoca Boardriders 1475
Merewether Surfboard Club 1170
Bronte Boardriders 1005
Freshwater Boardriders Inc 975
Mona Vale Boardriders 925
North Shore Boardriders 730
Cronulla Girls Boardriders 610
North Steyne Benches 610
Cronulla Sharks Boardriders 555
Curly United Boardriders 555
North Shelly B Team 555
Sandon Point Boardriders 555
Torquay Boardriders Club 555
Cronulla Girls B Team 475
Queenscliff Boardriders B Team 450
Queenscliff Boardriders C Team 450
Newport Plus Boardriders 413
Ulladulla Boardriders 400
The 2022 SURFTAG Series is proudly supported by Surf Culture Bondi, Guzman y Gomez, The Manly Club, Beachfox Sunscreen, Pine Property, Swellnet, Manly Observer, Tawny Frogmouth and Lifeline Northern Beaches.
2022 SURFTAG Series
1. Junior Surftag Presented by Guzman y Gomez – 13/14 August, Dee Why Beach
2. Grommet’s SURFTAG Presented by Surf Culture Bondi – 27/28 August, Queenscliff Beach 3. Women’s SURFTAG Presented by Beachfox – 10/11 September, Dee Why Beach
4. Master’s SURFTAG Presented by The Manly Club – 24/25 September, Curl Curl Beach
5. Men’s SURFTAG – 1/2 October, Queenscliff Beach
SURFTAG Website – www.surftag.au
SURFTAG Results – https://liveheats.com/surftag
SURFTAG Socials – @surftagseries
For all SURFTAG information please contact,
0403 180 787