2009 Hainan Surf Open
Wednesday, 21 January 2009 06:01
Written by Brendan Sheridan
The inaugural 2009 Surfing Hainan Open took place on January 10th and 11th at Shimei bay, on China’s beautiful Hainan island. With reports of a peaking swell for the Saturday, competitors were in high spirits in the lead up to the contest.
As the first surfing contest in mainland China in several years and the first ever to have Bodyboard and Longboard divisions the event attracted around 20 competitors across three divisions, attracting riders from South China, Hong Kong and even as far a field as Korea, all vying for top honors, and prizes from the event sponsors.
The morning greeted spectators and competitors with sunny skies and an offshore breeze, meaning conditions were excellent for entrants. After a short drive to the contest site at Nanyanbay, a beautiful 2-3 foot left-hander with a brisk offshore wind was on offer for the day.
With a slight push in swell as the tide began moving in, set waves drew hoots and screams from the crowd of around 70 who were enjoying the spectacle in the water as well the Hainan scenery.
Early standouts included Rose Speers, who had traveled from Guangzhou to compete. She showed a good wave selection and smooth style in the Longboard division. Nathan Mettlerand and Craig Colbran also put on a great performance in the Shortboard contest waiting further out for the set waves off to get the maximum rides and scores.
However, the early rounds were overshadowed by Todd Moore’s mammoth ride in the Longboard comp, riding from the take off on the point, weaving his way down the line, finally pulling off almost 100 meters down the beach, which had the crowd on their feet shouting in disbelief. Todd would eventually take “Wave of the Day” for his ride that showed the true potential of the break – he had longtime surfers and first time spectators well and truly amazed.
As finals time rolled around the high tide had made tricky conditions for competitors with less consistent sets coming in at the point, but with all reports saying the swell was to peak on Saturday, contest organizers opted to finish up the finals.
The Longboard final was highly anticipated by many on the beach with some great rides early on and perfect conditions for these bigger boards. All riders waited and picked off several good rides, Todd Moore again taking a few long ones, but with less size and scoring potential.
As the heat moved on, Nathan Mettler showed some good ability, but couldn’t quite get the ride length needed to score highly. It looked like it was down to Rose Speers and Craig Colbran who both scored set waves and performed several nice turns on each, giving the judges plenty to think about.
1. Cameron Hirst
2. Daniel Jeffery
3. Luke Hawkins
1. Rose Speers (*)
2. Craig Colbran(*)
3. Nathan Mettler
4. Todd Moore
* Craig handed 1st place over to Rose at presentation.
1. Nathan Mettler
2. Craig Colbran
3. Todd Moore
4. Vaughn Hill
With the heat drawing to a close, all contestants except Craig had paddled in, but then right on the buzzer a set came through. Time was up but Craig was paddling into a wave which he worked well, cranking out turns and riding smoothly. The wave was a heat winner (but there was debate as to whether the wave was after the buzzer), the judges had scored it and it seemed Craig had taken out the title with the ride.
In the shortboard final all 4 finalists had shown they had the goods to take it out, but as the heat progressed Nathan Mettler and Craig Colbran were showing good patience picking off the bigger waves, and taking off as deep as possible. Vaughn Hill managed to take few good rides, but with wave selection becoming tough he couldn’t get enough of the bigger sets and had to settle for 4th.
Todd Moore was in contention early on and was a crowd favorite after his wave of the day ride in the Longboard, but couldn’t get the rides to back up his scores and finally came in 3rd. Craig and Nathan battled it out waiting out for the biggest sets, which eventually paid off and when the heat came to a close it was anyone’s call to who had won. With one day to go before the prize giving, the riders were left in suspense.
Sunday dawned perfect, with blue skies and a light offshore, and to the contest organizers disbelief an increase in swell. With amazing waves on offer, and perfect conditions, all on hand took the opportunity free surf throughout the day at the Riyuebay point. As the time drew near to pack the bus and head back to Sanya for the prize giving at Fat Daddy’s restaurant, the group were buzzing from the great weekend and unexpected pumping surf they had experienced.