by Andy Mac
DEFYING the flooding odds from ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie, the Coffs Harbour Boardriders managed to defeat Snapper Rocks in pumping 1.5m waves at Duranbah Beach for the third and final qualifying event of the Sailor Jerry Surftag.
Last month Snapper had won the annual Kirra Teams event but were heavily outmatched by a fired-up Coffs outfit.
The NSW Mid North Coast team posted 91.37 in the final that included a two-wave combination of 25.03 by Madison Williams. Snapper Rocks Surfriders came home strongly, courtesy of an 8.2-point ride from Quinn Bruce to finish on 87.17 with the Burleigh Boardriders finishing third on 78.79 and D'Bah Boardriders fourth on 49.76.
The Coffs Harbour team of Jayke Sharp (17.1), Shaun Cansdell (14.17), Billy Kean (12.87), Madison Williams (25.03) and Lee Winkler (18.2) finished on top of a red-hot field, beating the Gold Coast's best boardriding clubs in their own backyard.
The trip north proved to be just as challenging as the club competition for Coffs and Tweed Coast clubs with roads closed either side of the Tweed River owing to major flooding from the aftermath of Cyclone Debbie.
Stranded in Casuarina last Friday week and not sure if they would be able to make their opening heat on the Saturday morning, Coffs team captain Lee Winkler considered driving 10 hours around the flooded region via the Gwydir Highway.
When northbound roads opened on the Saturday morning, event organisers had delayed the start of competition for Kingscliff, Cabarita and Coffs Harbour to arrive, the three teams from south of the Tweed were greeted with a brand new chocolate-coated ESE groundswell in perfect offshore conditions.
As captain coach for Coffs, Winkler played a massive roll in their semi-final win against Burleigh Heads, Noosa and the D'Bah.
The former world tour, stocky natural-footer scored an 8.73 on his power wave (double points) for a long tube ride which happened to be his lucky last wave of the heat.
"Super stoked to win the Gold Coast leg of the Sailor Jerry Surftag over a bunch of Australia's best clubs,” an elated Winkler said.
"After being stuck in northern NSW and being redirected all over the place, it was an amazing weekend that unfolded for our club.”
Understandably Lee and the Coffs crew had a hearty celebration back home with their members and supporters.
The top men's teams qualifying for the Sailor Jerry Surftag Australian Championships at North Narrabeen in May will be Coffs Harbour, Snapper Rocks, Burleigh Heads, D'Bah, Noosa, Kingscliff, and North End.
In the women's division, D'Bah Boardriders continued their dominance with a massive win over North End Boardriders 78.01 to 13.74. It was the first time North End and third place Alley Boardriders had competed in the women's division of the Sailor Jerry Surftag, with all three teams qualifying to the Australian championships.
D'Bah's team of Tahlija Redgard, Freya Prumm, Grace Styman-Lane, Brodie and Amiya Doyle will go to Sydney looking for their third straight Australian title.
WQS professional Freya Prumm was the stand-out for D'Bah, scoring 21.17 in the final.
"It was epic to score my first 10 in my career at this event, especially in pumping waves,” Prumm said.
"The wave itself was so rippable, it's something I'll never forget.
"Team's events are so fun but you definitely feel some weight because you don't want to let anyone else down. Sharing the win with friends in great conditions, then being offered free pizza is about as good as it gets for me.
"Cheers to Sailor Jerry and all involved in putting on such an epic weekend. Yeahh D'Bah.”
Snapper Rocks' young gun Mitch Parkinson won the Sailor Jerry Powerwave award for a 9.77 in Round 1.
Final Results 2017 Sailor Jerry Surftag Gold Coast Qualifier
1. Coffs Harbour 1. D'Bah
2. Snapper Rocks 2. North End