Stop #2 of the Aussie Tour has arrived – who will win?
Above: SA’s Dylan Beach taking the plunge at Knights a couple of weeks ago. Photo: ABA/Michael Gee
That’s right, the left-hand South Australian wedge will host the second contest of the new and improved ABA Aussie Tour (this Saturday and Sunday, May 10-11) and the leaderboard’s a juicy read after a successful Dbah Pro last month. The Queensland leg saw Sunny Coaster Lachlan Cramsie draw first blood on the 2014 tour, besting Joe Clarke, Japan’s Hayato Enokido and Mitch Rawlins in the final. But with a vastly different make-up to the Knights Pro competitors list we’re set for an intriguing show.
The RAW Knights Pro, presented by Rebel – official teaser
BIGWIGS: The rider with the highest profile in the event is arguably Joe Clarke, who’s coming off an impressive second place at the Dbah Pro and flying after signing a new deal with Custom X. If you’ve ever seen footage of Joe at a certain left-hand wedge in northern NSW (or any beachbreak for that matter), you’d know he’s a hot favourite at the Knights wedge. Fellow Queenslanders Lachlan Cramsie (he’s leading the tour, so… yeah – a logical favourite) and Cade Sharp are also heading south, but you’d think Cade – a big, strong lad – will need the waves to be a tad bigger than the 1.5-foot lumps he was presented with in the Dbah Pro early rounds if he’s to progress to the pointy end. Elliot Williams – Riptide’s current cover star (issue #199, on sale now!) – is also heading down from Queensland and coming off a strong Dbah Pro (9th place). Another name you’ll know is Heydon “Da Boogie Man” Bunting, but like Cade you’d think he’ll need some bigger waves to have a chance of a strong finish. The most mouth-watering prospect of the event is the inclusion of Kauai whiz-kid, 15-year-old Tanner McDaniel, who’s also committed to the West Oz leg. If Japan’s Hayato Enokido was the head-hunting, ballistic wildcard of the Dbah Pro (can ARS of the tiniest of ripple) then Tanner’s the danger-man in the Knights Pro, who’d surely be making a few of the older guys nervous. If you saw Tanner’s flip at Pipe during the February contest (or watched any of his waves in the JR Pro final) then you’d know he’s in with a roaring chance.
COMP SPECIALISTS: Cramsie’s got the form behind him and is the reigning Aussie Tour champ so he’s the contest machine of the, um… contest. Hot at his heels though is Port Elliot’s own Marshall Watson – the Knights local is the 2012 National Titles champ and beat Cramsie in the Knights Pro final last year. With his local knowledge and comp nous combined with Cramsie’s aim to settle the score, there should be fireworks if these two meet up in a heat.
THE LOCALS: You can’t argue with the benefits of local knowledge. Marshall Watson, mentioned above, lives down the road, while Dylan Beach (made the quarters last year), the versatile Karl Morgan, Jack Thomas and Jasper Ashmoore are some of the local guys who know the place in and out so potentially could do some damage.
DARK HORSES: There are a few interesting names to take note of on the roster. Veteran Novocastrian Johnny Cruickshank is a frequent visitor to Box Beach – a similar left-hand wedge to Knights – so you could argue he’s got the knowledge to read the bowly sections better than most. Two others worth looking at are both youngsters – Newy’s Jesse Landrigan, 17, and WA’s Jake Metcalfe, 19. Both of these guys progressed through the Dbah Pro to the quarters and semfinals respectively, surfing pretty bloody well and taking big scalps. Beware the youngsters!
FORECAST: We sent a text message to Dylan Beach to see what might be in store for the weekend and this is what we got back: “The first day of the event period, Saturday, will see only small waves, although favourable winds. The size on Saturday morning will depend on how windy Friday night is. If it gets really windy there’s the possibility that it could be on the small-to-tiny side. There a few positives though. First, the banks at Knights have been producing good waves in both small and big swells. Second, the tide is relatively low on Saturday, which will suit the smaller swell. Third, we should see a really strong pulse in the period on Saturday afternoon through to Sunday. This is looking to push a new swell into Sunday where there should be some really fun waves around the three-foot mark. The winds will be ESE early, which can produce some really peaky and fun conditions. Throughout the day the swell looks like it’ll continually kick with relatively light onshore winds, which doesn’t affect Knights much and should produce some really fun contestable waves.” So there you go.
Who are you tipping to take it out? Stay tuned to riptidemag.com.au and our social media channels, plus the ABA Tour Facebook page for the results and all the wash-up from the event.