After a short delay due to a high tide, the 35th Sapphire Coast Boardriders Gazamal Malibu Surf Comp kicked off with its first round of hopeful longboard riders hitting the ocean.
It was a mild morning in Merimbula on Saturday, May 14, with temperatures already around 16 degrees just after 9am when the competition took off, temperatures were predicted to warm up by 1pm to 24 degrees.
There was a great bunch of spectators gathered on the beach and around the judging panel, with friendly familiar faces there to cheer on their mates.
Contest coordinator John Smythe said the waves had started to break well by the middle of the first round and the waves would continue to improve throughout the next few rounds.
"The wind is really light and the banks are good so there's really good shape on the waves, really good Malibu waves," said Mr Smythe.
"It will be low tide at lunchtime and then the tide will turn to come in, there's just a light breeze that's pretty well offshore so that will keep the waves nice and smooth, and I reckon that wind will drop off after lunch."
Mr Smythe said that he thought finals would happen around 3pm, when it would likely be half tide, with the tide coming in.
"We will have eliminated a lot of surfers and would be down to the business end of the day and that would be great because those will be great conditions," he said.
The aim of each surfer would be to catch as many waves as they could, but the best three waves on the judging sheet would count towards a total score.
"After the first round, the top three would go into round three, and the lower places- four through to six - would end up in a repechage round, so by round three we will have started eliminating.
"So basically everyone would have had two surfs before they're eliminated and then we will progress into the quarters and the semis after lunch, so we'll be chomping the field in half," he said.
Although the scores weren't super high in the first round, everyone was able to at least get their three waves, and with the waves standing up nicely on the bank and looking like they would get better throughout the day, the scores would likely improve as the day went on.
"The waves are a bit fat and slow but they're good for a mal and so they've all had a bit of fun out there."
"Some of the high judged waves will come not just from the wave itself but getting a nose ride in and style, cutbacks and that sort of thing, but it's pretty level playing field as far as the surf goes," Mr Smythe said.
"So not every wave is a good ride for nose riding but if someone gets a nose ride in that would be good."
This year, the event is dedicated to local surfer Gary Corbett.
"Over the last 35 years, we have changed the name of the Malibu surfing comp each year to dedicate it to some of our close mates who have gone," Mr Smythe said.
"Gary was a local surfer, and had the fish and chip shop in Merimbula and also Eden Smokehouse... he left us late last year. His nickname was Gaz, so we are calling the comp the GAZAMAL this year."
*Results to come.
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