The NSW Board Riding Championships returned with a bang at Merewether Beach at the weekend.
All competitors were greeted with fantastic conditions, which paved the way for some strong surfing across Saturday 8 October.
Ninety-six registered participants, representing 28 clubs throughout the state, converged on the iconic location for the event – the first time it had been staged since 2019.
“The last one was at North Narrabeen… and it went really well there, good competitors and good numbers,” event referee Carlo Villanti said.
“We’re back again though with good numbers once again and we’ve seen some really good surfing.
“In particular, some of the under-13 kids and under-14-15 youngsters are very, very good – it’s great to see.”
Indeed, the younger age brackets would put up some of the highest scores of the day, taking advantage of getting in the water early and laying down scores through consistent sets.
Coogee SLSC’s George Messiter arguably was the cream of the crop in the under-13 Male Short Board final.
He would triumph by less than a point over Will Tebb of Avoca Beach – ironically, the son of the man who would go on to beat Messiter’s individual high score later in the day.
His father, Nigel, would outscore George in the 50+ Male Short Board decider.
It wouldn’t phase Messiter, though, he was just thrilled to be out in the water.
“I love surfing – hot, sunny, you’re with your mates most of the time, and competing is good but it’s also stressful,” he said with a laugh.
“I thought it was going to be pouring rain, however it was clean and the waves came through in the final, so that was good.
“I was hustling for the better waves and going for a couple of big snaps.”
Later in the day, the Long Board divisions featured some first timers battle it out with seasoned heads.
In the Youth Female Long Board final, winner Isabel Higgs from North Curl Curl SLSC confessed to being “entered by the club” rather than her own choice.
But, she had loads of fun on the longer board.
“It was really tricky, however it was fun at the same time, I really enjoyed it today,” she said.
“I was a bit nervous.
“I’m not too used to riding it but the people at the club put me in and I thought, might as well give it a shot.”
Many competitors took the opportunity to paddle out for multiple categories, testing their skills across the age brackets.
Cooks Hill SLSC’s Lily Forbes was one of them, saying the chance to get back in the water and competing was too hard to pass up.
“I think I just wanted to be a part of the atmosphere, come down with all my club mates to a local beach and just have a good day,” she said.
“This is my second time doing the board riding.
“It changes it up a bit from your usual board, swim, paddle, so it’s good.”