Phillips battles grief to claim surf festival title
WINNING a national final is always a tough task but having some help from a guardian angel makes the job a little easier.
This was the case for Sawtell surfer Gary Phillips during today's final of the Over-50 Mens division in the bcu Australian Surf Festival.
Competing in clean four-foot waves at Emerald Beach, flew the flag for the local surfing contingent.
"My tactics were changing all day but I knew if I could get a good righthander then I was in with a chance," Phillips said.
"My mum died on Saturday, so I knew she'd be looking out for me. I really have her to thank."
Phillips looked unstoppable at various stages throughout the final, posting a perfect ten-point ride, which gave him the upper-hand against his fellow finalists.
As a result of his perfect wave, Phillips was awarded the bcu money turn, which will see him awarded with a $100 bank account courtesy of bcu.
Phillips was one of six new Australian shortboard champions crowned at Emerald Beach today.
Palm Beach surfer Mark Richardson capped off an amazing Australian Surf Festival campaign taking the win in the Over-35 Men.
Richardson shone in the action packed final - which saw all finalists posting wave scores in the excellent range - notching up a massive 19.05 heat total (out of a possible 20 points).
After finishing second to former World Tour surfer Jake Paterson last year, Richardson was able to claim the elusive win for the Queenslanders, ensuring a title went north of the border.
"I've come second in the Over-35 Mens three times prior to this, so to finally get a win feels amazing," Richardson said.
"This year's final was a lot mellower than last year, we were all spread out a lot more and fortunately the waves came my way."
After nabbing a perfect ten-point ride yesterday, Paul Parkes (Merewether) returned to the same fine form on finals day, claiming a win in the Over-40 Mens final.
The Novocastrian natural-footer unloaded a barrage of massive hits over the course of the 25-minute affair to notch up two near-perfect rides in the nine-point range and leave his fellow finalists chasing two-wave combinations to snatch his lead away.
Parkes last Australian title win was in 2013 when he won the Over-35 Mens division in Port Macquarie.
"I just really enjoy getting away to surf in State and Aussie Titles and compete against a lot of the same guys who used to compete together," Parkes said.
"This event was really about having fun, so I'm stoked that the tactic worked."
Matt Hucker claimed his first Aussie Title since 2004, taking out the Over-45 Mens final.
The Central Coast goofy-footer took an early lead in the hotly contested battle, posting 8.25 and 7.25 wave scores.
Runner-up Paul Surman showed moments of brilliance in the final posting a 10.95 heat total, but failed to muster up the scores required to snatch away Hucker's lead.
"I haven't won a Australian Title in over a decade, so it's been a while between drinks," Hucker said.
"I knew it'd be a tough competition out there, so I just tried my hardest to get a decent score on the board as early as I could. I'm stoked it worked."
John Kolehmainen (West Haven, NSW) claimed another Australian Title for NSW, convincingly taking out the Over-55 Mens division with a heat total of 17.40.
Kolehmainen's last Australian Title was won previously when he surfed for the Tasmanian team.
"This is my first Australian Title for NSW. I previously won one for Tasmania but it feels incredible to win one in my home state," Kolehmainen said.
"I knew things would be tough with last year's champion and my mate Wayne Kinerson in the final.
"Him and I grew up together on the south coast and used to bump heads in heats a lot, so it's awesome to share this with him."
The choice of board made by Byron Bay's Neil Cameron worked in his favour, flying over flat spots and difficult sections to take the win in the Over-60 Men.
Cameron and Alan Bounds (Red Hill South, Vic) went neck-and-neck for the title, however Cameron was able to get the nod thanks to a solid back-up score.
When the final hooter sounded, Cameron took the win by 2.60 points.
"This was always going to be tough, but I'm stoked to come away with the win," Cameron said.
"It's always a bit of a challenge to stay relaxed, even at this age, but it seemed to be a tactic that worked."
The bcu Australian Surf Festival will resume tomorrow with the Australian Longboard Titles.
bcu AUSTRALIAN SURF FESTIVAL RESULTS
1 - Mark Richardson (Palm Beach, Qld)
2 - Mitch Dawkings (Nelson Bay, NSW)
3 - Jake Spooner (Bulli, NSW)
4 - Cameron Sharpe (Shelly Beach, NSW)
1 - Paul Parkes (Merewether, NSW)
2 - Jake Spooner (Bulli, NSW)
3 - Mick Hassett (Miami, Qld)
4 - Colin Bernasconi (Forresters Beach, NSW)
1 - Matt Hucker (Long Jetty, NSW)
2 - Paul Surman (Burleigh Heads, Qld)
3 - Gary Howarth (Seaford, SA)
4 - Murray Jacobs (Swanbourne, WA)
1 - Gary Phillips (Sawtell, NSW)
2 - Andrew Johnson (Bulli, NSW)
3 - Terry Lansberg (Caloundra, Qld)
4 - Scott Baxter (Cronulla, NSW)
1 - John Kolehmainen (West Haven, NSW)
2 - Wayne Kinerson (Scotts Head, NSW)
3 - Alex Bosansky (Maroubra, NSW)
4 - Stephen Kay (Jan Juc, Vic)
1 - Neil Cameron (Byron Bay, NSW)
2 - Alan Bounds (Red Hill South, Vic)
3 - Steve Pozzi (Woodvale, WA)
4 - David Cousins (Sunrise Beach, Qld)