Le-Ba storms to home win

ALL GOOD: Dylan Johnson’s backhand re-entry in The Jim Beam Surftag qualifier, held at North Wall, Ballina.
ALL GOOD: Dylan Johnson’s backhand re-entry in The Jim Beam Surftag qualifier, held at North Wall, Ballina. Patrick Gorbunovs

LENNOX Head surfer Stuart Kennedy overcame a rib injury to help lead the Lennox-Ballina Boardriders to a win in qualifying round of the $15,000 Jim Beam Surftag at North Wall, Ballina on Saturday.

Kennedy was in doubt during the week but was able to take part alongside teammates James Wood, Marcus Aboody, Steve Walsh and Jo Hudson.

They walked away with $1500, while a second Le-Ba team narrowly missed out on the semi-finals.

It was the first time in the 13-year history of the event that an FNC qualifying round was held.

Le-Ba are no strangers to success at home, winning the national final of the competition in 2012.

"In 13 years it would probably be in the top three for best days of surfing we've ever had," event organiser Steve Harrison said.

"It was perfect three-four waves and it made every heat exciting to watch."

Byron Bay finished second and have also qualified for the national finals in March.

They had one of the stronger teams, with former professional Danny Wills, Garrett Parkes, Soli Bailey, Luke Stickley and Karl Woolcot. Wills got the highest heat score of the day with a 32.93, while Wood wasn't far behind on a 31.93.

"James Wood was the standout and received the surfer of the final award," Harrison said. "Danny and Garrett Parkes were pretty dominant throughout the day."

Parkes scored the highest power wave of the competition with a 9.67. The surftag format awards double points for the second wave each surfer rides before tagging in the next competitor in a group of five.

The national final will be held over three-days at Duranbah, Tweed Heads from March 27.

Mick O’Rafferty buries the rail during action in the Jim Beam Surftag qualifier.
Mick O’Rafferty buries the rail during action in the Jim Beam Surftag qualifier.

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