By Matt Cleary, 14th August 2022
In small but ideal waves on a warm winter’s day, Long Reef Boardriders Club took out the Junior Surftag Presented by Guzman y Gomez at Dee Why on Saturday.
Kobi Clements, Jonny Grainger, Xavier Bryce, Baxter Hurt and Ryder James amassed 70.56 points from their combined ten waves in the tag-team relay format.
North Avalon Surfriders (62.47), North Shore Boardriders (55.76) and Merewether Surfboard Club (48.32) filled out the minor placings.
In conditions described as “small but perfect”, a bank of sand that had shifted north from Dee Why corner produced a clean two-foot ‘A-frame’ (a wave that breaks left and right from a central point).
Bryce told The Beaches Champion the event was “really fun”.
“Tag team is always like that, it gets you going.
“It’s always good to have a good crew behind you. They push you to do better. I was just happy to get a few good waves,” Bryce said.
Bryce, who competes professionally on the World Surf League circuit, said there was pressure on from the get-go.
“You always want to play your part in team events. You don’t want to let anyone down.
“But I managed to keep calm and get a few good waves,” Bryce said.
That he did – after a tidy 4.57 for his first wave, he trumped that with 5.93 on his second – a score which doubled as a ‘Powerwave’.
Bryce said that team-mate Clements “never fails to impress” while Hurt was the standout with his quick and efficient surfing.
The final was not without controversy, as is typical in frenetic, competitive tag-team events.
Merewether’s Manning Gregory and North Shore’s Noah Davies took off on the middle of the same A-frame wave with “one going left and the other going right,” according to head judge Phil Courtney.
The surfers were both deemed to have caused interference and had five points deducted from their scores.
When Merewether’s Ocean Lancaster was later deemed to have fouled an opponent in an apparently similar incident, a delegation of Merewether representatives sought clarification from officials.
“It didn’t affect the end result, the best club won the final,” Merewether Team Manager Jye Byrnes said. “But we felt there was some inconsistency there.
Event organiser Steve Harrison played down the incident.
“You always get that in tag team surfing when the waves are small.
“It’s a competitive event. The surfers have about ten minutes each to get onto their two waves.
“There’s always going to be a little argie-bargie when two surfers take off on the same wave,“ Harrison said.
There was some consolation for the Novocastrians when Merewether’s Ollie Ryssenbeck rode the highest-scoring wave in the final with a 7.17.
On a fine winter’s day the sun warmed the backs of hundreds of black-hoodie-wearing club members, an appreciative crowd happy to be back watching competitive tag surfing after more than two years.
Fourteen clubs came to contest the Junior event of the Surftag Series.
There was Merewether and North Shelly from the north, Bondi and Maroubra United from the east.
Elouera came from the Shire, Scarborough from the north Illawarra.
North Shore came from Maroochydore with evocatively-named star junior Hurricane Martin.
Northern beaches clubs included Long Reef, Mona Vale, Queenscliff, Freshwater and the big dogs from North Narrabeen.
Dee Why Surfing Fraternity and North Avalon Surfriders who call themselves “NASA” made up the locals.
North Shore Team Manager Shane Bevan, a former World Tour surfer, said club juniors jumped at the chance to compete at Dee Why.
“These kids have missed out on a lot of opportunities the last few years. A lot of our club members have.
“A tag team event was a chance to have a go as a team.
“They’ve surprised themselves how hard they trained. We practiced for six weeks before coming here.
“Two of the boys hadn’t been to Sydney before. For them to experience the competitive, tag-team format was great.
“It’s quite unlike general format surfing competition. It’s sort of like a football team – you abide by rules, you’re after a team score, there’s a time factor.
“They’re good lessons to learn for when they get home. It’s great for a boardriders club,” Bevan said.
Attention now turns to the first Surftag Grommets event at Queenscliff on 27-28 August, before the Women’s at Dee Why (10-11 September), the Master’s at Curl Curl (24-25 September) and Men’s at Queenscliff (1-2 October).
The 2022 SURFTAG SERIES is proudly supported by Guzman y Gomez, The Manly Club, Surf Culture Bondi, Beachfox Sunscreen, Pine Property, Swellnet, Manly Observer, Tawny Frogmouth and Lifeline Northern Beaches.
For more info go to surftag.au
Socials – @surftagseries