Last year's Seddon Shield was all time. After 5 years of hiking down through the Royal National Park for the annual event I thought it couldn’t get better, but then I recalled an old proverb that fellow surfer David “Flemo” Fleming would mutter regularly when surfing the Outer Southy behind the island, “Always expect the unexpected”, too right Flemo!! And what more of a fitting statement for this year's Seddon Shield Surf Competition.
It was a first for a fully grated bush trail, a first for Mick “Humphrey '' Cantarella to give the surf a spell because of his Gary Jack but most importantly a first for a Women’s Division in the comp, YTG!! Every year the Shield surprises and with a tad of left over swell from the week this year was no different!
Back to the Palms, the early birds made the walk down the hill. First on deck Jack “Snag” Cuthbert proceeded to sneak in a pre-heat warm up but mother nature had other plans and after a heavy wipeout decided to hand back his board in two just before the comp. Unfortunately for Snag, neither half of his board adequately fit the stringent criteria for the surfing or bodyboarding division and thus Snag was left to help out with organising the heats for the day, Thanks Snag! After Snag and Jake “Irv” Irvine sorted the morning heats and everyone got their pre-comp warm-up in well before 9am, the junior Women's division kicked off the day!
A heat of four consisting of the “Havachats” Georgia Beale, Macy Smith, Alice Norbury & Mila Folsom, all with varied levels of experience, but to say it wasn’t a close heat would be untrue. With Mila on a fiberglass shortboard out the back and the remaining three close to shore in the whitewater, you would say Mila was the clear favourite with the most experience. However, with such short heats the white water provided consistent opportunities for points and proved an unfair advantage, so all four competitors were put through to the final on the condition that all would be in the same water area - in the foam.
With all competitors side by side the Women's finals would have been the most neck to neck, or nose to nose heat of surfing of the entire day. The late final high tide made it difficult for the girls to stand but Alice and Mila managed to throw in a few bus riding attempts scoring them a few points on the scoreboard. Ultimately, the two nose riders Macy and Georgia were the stand-outs (or stand ups) in the final and got the highest scores of the four with Georgia scraping through for the win with her hang ten securing the Women’s Seddon Shield Title, Go Georgia, and great surfing all!!
Scattered throughout the day the Male Juniors heats were carried out. With most of the boys surfing all day long between heats it was a miracle any of them had the energy to compete, unlike the Masters that preferred to have a straight all in final. Both the Junior Males and Male Masters contained Aussie medallists which was evident with their radical turns and innovative maneuvers. Personally, surfing in the Opens I thought we had the easiest heats and I’m glad that some of the boys have a few more years before they step-up to the big boys league.
As mentioned prior it was impossible to remove the juniors boys from the surf so the judges decided to hold an all in final on the spot. As usual it was a battle of the beaches Coogee vs Era, Finn Wilkie vs Joey Mison respectively, and wow did the boys put on a show. Despite this as the two rivals battled out point for point, secretly in the corner George Messiter snuck in an extra point over Finn just before the buzzer which secured him the Seddon Shield title for the junior men. Close surfing from all!
Over to the Masters straight final it was agreed that a 20 minute heat would be sufficient, with an additional 20 minute paddle out allowance put in place. Paul “Macro” Beale was seen jagging some of the biggest bombs of the day along with David “Smithy” Smith narrowly taking out third place. Michael “Tezza” Terry used his paddle time wisely and kept close to the shore explaining afterwards that it only made a quicker paddle back to shore once the heat was done, truely an innovative angle from Tezza!!! With the rest of the crew refusing to wear their coloured rashies, stated by Julian “Jules Boat” La Rosa “those colours don’t suit us” it made judging with Humphreys limited vision difficult. Furthermore, Bruce Julian was the usual stand out scoring second only to Tony Seddon whose surfing was easily recognisable, limited vision or not. Tony however couldn’t make the late arvo presentation and thus the trophy was given to Bruce. A reminder to anyone protesting the outcomes of the event has to bring down a slab to the Palms the following year in order to protest.
Lastly, the Opens as mentioned seemed to be the easiest heat with a few members bailing early after hearing Snag was stationed on the BBQ and knew of his supreme BBQ cooking skills. The two young Beales, Jack and Joe, “Micro” and “Nano” took out the third and second place respectively with Clay Cantarella taking the win for the Opens (conflict of interest I know). Charlie “Chicka” Smith won the Speed, Power and Flow award for his keen spirit, the only one staying out until the comp finished and for his fashionable durag he rocked during the heat.
Another great year of surfing, I’d like to thank everyone for judging and helping with the BBQ/clean-up after the event! Special thanks to Gary Daly and the Burning Palms Crew for hosting the event for the day, much appreciated. See you all next year for a great day, Yewwwww!!!
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