Longboard heaven at Evans Head
WHEN 200 longboard surfers converge on a little town like Evans Head, you know the event must be pretty special.
And so it is with the 20th anniversary Evans Head Longboard Invitational starting on Friday.
From humble beginnings and a field of 64 surfers, the event run by the Evans Head Over-8s Malibu Club has grown into one of the most popular competitions on the Australian longboard circuit.
Organisers pride themselves on its fun and family atmosphere, as well as its high competition standards.
Over the years the surf has been everything from tiny to tumultuous, terrible to perfect, but the competitors keep coming back – and bringing their friends.
Surfers from every State have competed, as well as from New Zealand, Hawaii, California, Florida and France. They have included State, national and world champions.
A specialist competition for single-fin surfboards from the 1970s era will open proceedings on Friday.
Many top riders will be on show, including Jared Neal (Coffs Harbour), Jack Lynch (Scotts Head), Mark Pridmore (Yamba) and Keenan Roxburgh (Evans Head).
The longboards will paddle out on Saturday morning, with a star-studded field in the premier open 9-foot division including Australian longboard pro circuit surfers Ruben Roxburgh (Evans Head), Heath Norrish (Tweed Heads), Jared Neal (Coffs Harbour), Dylan Holland (Gold Coast), Josh Cooper (Sunshine Coast), Ben Dickens (Byron Bay) and Keenan Roxburgh, as well Australian junior champion Jack Lynch (Scotts Head).
Many of these surfers will be back in the water to challenge defending champion Ruben Roxburgh for the Bic Open event with $500 prizemoney up for grabs, as surfers ride a variety of Bic surfboards.
The open women’s field is just as competitive, with pro surfers Isabelle Braly (Ballina), Emma Webb (Torquay), Roisin Carolan (Lennox Head), Melissa Combo (Ballina) and Jodie Barsby (Crescent Head) as well as defending champion Prue Donohoe (Gold Coast).
In all there are 14 divisions, including Under-18 boys, Under-18 girls, Over-40 women, men’s Over-35s, Over-45s, Over-50s, Over-55s, Over-60s and Old Mal (for traditional longboards from the 1960s era).
Finals day on Monday will feature some of the best longboard surfing the country has to offer.
Through the Evans Head Longboard Invitational, the Over-8s Malibu Club has now raised about $50,000 for local charities.