Everything you need to know about the new Aussie Tour’s first stop.
Above: Yeah we ran this shot from the mid-March super session at Dbah online a few weeks ago, but it’s worth running again don’t ya think? Photo: Charlie Hardy
In what’s gotta be one of the most anticipated Aussie Tour events in recent history, the NMD Dbah Pro presented by BSC comes to town this Friday, April 11. What’s all the fuss about, you ask? If you haven’t had a gander of our release last month, check it here for the full run-down, but basically everything is shiny, new and improved. We’re talking a new board of really handy, high-profile and well-connected directors; a stripped-back schedule (only four banging, wedge-laden events rather than trying to bite off more than they can chew early on); and a slick new production schedule, which will see each event get the glossy pre and post-game video it deserves. The newly formed ABA has also re-secured Rebel as the tour’s major sponsor and if you still doubted the financial street-cred of 2014, a $10,000 prize purse for Dbah was announced last week.
But the most important boon for the new tour has been the support by the sport’s biggest Aussie names. The competitors list reads like a who’s-who of Oz booging and gets to the crux of why this Friday to Sunday should be such an insane spectacle. With the IBA World Tour taking a break in 2014 and the APB World Tour still finding its feet, it’s clear there’s even more focus on the ABA Tour, which promises to be the world’s best domestic series. Let’s take a look at some of the riders who’ll be duking it out this week.
The NMD Dbah Pro, presented by BSC – official teaser
COMP JUNKIES: The Dbah Pro will host more than 10 current or former world tour competitors, but the one who casts the biggest shadow is, of course, three-time World Champ and current APB World Tour ratings leader Ben Player. You’ve also got Dave Winchester, who almost pulled home a World Title in 2012 (and who has been absolutely tearing up Dbah in recent weeks). Another comp specialist to watch will be Lachlan Cramsie – last year’s Aussie Tour winner and current World Tour competitor – who’s fast becoming a young Aussie version of Pierre Louis Costes (give either of ‘em any section and they’ll flip off it). Mitch Rawlins too is a past world tour runner-up (2005), Jase Finlay has won a World Tour contest (El Fronton, 2011), Jake Stone has landed two of the most progressive moves ever in a contest (South Coast Mobile Challenge 2013), Sam Bennett and Tom Rigby have made Pipeline finals before, last year’s Aussie Tour runner-up Jones Russell is a noted contest machine, while young South Australian Marshall Watson is a comp specialist who took out the 2012 National Title. Yeah, there’s gonna be some scary competition talent on show.
MORE BIGWIGS: The names just keep comin’. Nick Gornall, Joe Clarke, Lewy Finnegan, George Humphreys, Michael Novy, Dallas Singer, Chase O’Leary, Ewan Donnachie, Cade Sharp, Davis Blackwell, Winston McCall… If you haven’t gathered by now – there’s gonna be some insane bodyboarding on show and every one of these dudes is capable of taking it out on their day. You got a favourite in mind yet?
THE LOCALS: Dbah has always been a hotbed of young bodyboarding talent in Oz so it’s no surprise there’s a strong local contingent that has signed up. You’ll find young fellas like Jacob Hein, Will Nepia-Murray and Eric Roy out there on any given day, while guys like Mitch, Riggaz and Ash Bryant have grown up hitting Dbah bowls. Then there’s Joe, who’s in his element in its glassy peaks and knows the place like the back of his salty hands. Along with Winny (and Rob Laurie as usual) he’s been the standout at Dbah’s well-documented super sessions in the past few weeks. Count the local guys out at your peril.
Joe Clarke utilising his local knowledge last month. Photo: Sam Cosgrove
DARK HORSES: Who’s got something to prove? Will Lewy, Davis and George shake off the grom tag and add some high-profile competitive success to the ever-growing list of stuff they’re good at (which is pretty much everything)? Will Jones Russell shake off last year’s last-minute Aussie Tour loss to Cramsie last year and use that fire to take the Dbah Pro out? Will semi-local Elliot Williams, who beat Cramsie in one of the Queensland State Titles events last year, use the confidence gained from his recent Riptide cover and add it to his already burgeoning swag to take some scalps?
THE FAVOURITES: On current Dbah form and hours put in training at the venue you’d have to say Winny and Joe Clarke are right up there as favourites. On competitive nous and small-wave prowess Cramsie is a really hot pick (although there’s talk he has an injured hoof), while BP on paper is in blistering form – his Pipeline win in February and his 2013 World Title give him ultimate bigwig favourite status (though there’s obviously a big divide between heavy reefbreaks and a peaky beachie like Dbah). But the ultimate favourite should the waves not really turn up (more on this in a moment) is perhaps Japan’s Hayato Enokido. Who the f#@k is that, you ask? Hayato visited Australia on the exact same weekend for the exact same comp (first Aussie Tour round of the year at Dbah) in 2010 and won it despite the field including guys like Mike Stewart, Jeff Hubbard and Mitch Rawlins. Y’see the young fella is blessed with the ability to ARS off just about anything and he put it to perfect use in the tiny conditions that year, besting Jared Houston, Jake Stone and Jones Russell in the final with a combined score of 16.83. He came second to Jake Stone in similar conditions at the same comp in 2011 and followed it up with his second Aussie Tour win at the Soldiers Pro later that year, beating Mark McCarthy, Winny and Mitch in the final. Yeah, if it’s small, watch out for Hayato.
DROPKNEE: The 15 guys in the dropknee event are all capable of taking the thing out, but on paper it’s probably Pottsville’s Shane Griffiths that has the best recent contest form (e.g. 2013 National Titles Pro DK win, 2013 Jeff Wilcox Memorial DK win). But anyone who’s surfed Dbah pumping will know Matt Lackey’s going to be the one to watch, despite him typically eschewing the contest arena. He’s probably put in more hours at the venue than anyone else on the competitors list. Others to keep an eye on will be Dave Winchester, Grant Molony and Dylan Lee.
Mr Lackey, mid-March. Photo: Jaymie Jones
FORECAST: It’s not looking big, but there will be ramps. We spoke to Matt Lackey, who can pretty much look into Dbah’s peaks from his window at home, for a run-down on the forecast and he said it’s gonna be “pretty small”. “But the one thing that’s working in our favour is the banks are so good,” Lackey said. “So even if it’s small it’ll be really punchy. I think the winds are gonna be pretty light [for the entire contest], perhaps not great [direction] at times, but light and it should be really clean in the mornings. I’m thinking it’s gonna be two-foot and hopefully bigger to three-foot… from what I can tell Sunday is looking the better bet because there’s a new swell coming just after that so hopefully it starts to show up a little earlier.”
GET THERE: The festivities kick off at 4pm tomorrow (Thursday) at BSC Coolangatta at 4pm with a promo/signing where you can meet and greet a ton of the comp’s biggest names at BSC Coolangatta. The comp then begins at 8am on Friday, with the winner to be crowned on Sunday. See you there!