2018 Garage Handplanes Body Bash - Noosa Festival of Surfing
The Garage Handplanes Body Bash kicked of the 2018 Noosa Festival of Surfing last weekend. Since the event's inception in 2015, it has seen a huge surge in popularity. With only 36 spots open in the Mens division and 10 in the Female, the allocated spots were filled very soon after opening. The Dafin crew from Hawaii sponsored the event and returned for their second year. Bringing along bodysurfing legend Mark Cunningham and Hawaii's up and coming shore-break king Keali'i Punley. With a recent cyclone swell pushing through Noosa, a strong south swell and a new cyclone swell anticipated for the tail end of the event, the hype and stoke was high for the Body Bash.
The event kicked off on Friday night with a meet and greet at the Beach Bar on Main Beach. Bodysurfers from all over Australia and some from the USA congregated over a cold beer and live music. Some familiar faces and some new, sharing stories of the year gone past and the waves had.
Bright and early Saturday morning, saw a swarm of competitors out in the line-up at First Point (those who recovered from the beach bar), all feeling out the conditions prior to Round 1. Watching everybody exit the water, it was evident the competitors were excited for some fun yet challenging 1-2ft First Point conditions. Round 1 saw some epic battles, sometimes coming down to the last wave of the heat. It was clear that tactics would play a large part in the challenging conditions, length of ride being key. Round 2 saw the inclusion of the seeded competitors Tom Marr, Jacob Marr, Liam Short, Don McCredie, Mark Cunningham and Keali'i Punley. Round 2 was a masterclass in bodysurfing and a pleasure to watch, with a pulse of waves, it saw some of the best ridden waves of the weekend. Some very good competitors narrowly missing a spot in the Semi Finals to be held the next day.
Finals day on Sunday saw a small reduction in swell which increased the events difficulty. Set waves were scarce and valuable. Yet, some small gems could be found further on the inside. Trying to find a balance between waiting for the right wave and just getting some points on the board left some to finish the heat without catching a wave. Some big outs during the Semi Final with Hawaiian bodysurfers Mark Cunningham and Keali'i Punley narrowly missing out on the Final. Perhaps being more accustomed to the large powerful waves of Hawaii. However, some bodysurfers truly excelled. Most notably Dylan Kelly, Tom Marr, Zane Baxter, Jacob Marr, Dave Ford and Liam Short who progressed through to the Final. A balanced mix of Dafin, DMC and Garage Handplanes sponsored athletes.
The mens and womens final were both truly exhibitions. What they could do on a 1 ft wave was remarkable. Kate Maxwell winning the first Womens Noosa Surfing Festival Garage Handplanes Body Bash Title with a stylish barrel ride. In the Mens Final, Dave Ford got off to a cracker locking in two high scores very early to take the lead. The rest of the Mens Final was a chase. Very good scores were posted, however, with the scarcity of waves, most only locking in one good score each. Three time Garage Handplanes Body Bash champion Tom Marr dug deep to retain his title, however, it did not prove enough. Dave Ford showed his experience and class (3x Opens World Bodysurfing Champion), taking out his first Noosa Surfing Festival Garage Handplanes Body Bash Title. For the first time, American champions in the Mens and Womens divisions. Lets step it up next year Aussies!
Speaking to Hawaiian Keali'i Punley and Californian Dave Ford after the event they both were so stoked on the event, saying it was an epic experience to be part of the Noosa Surfing Festival, noting that the Australian bodysurfing community is in a very healthy state. Dave can't wait to come defend his title next year and Keali'i said he will be working on his smaller wave skills in their summer season to come back next year and hopefully win.