Wild Women // Event
06 March 2011
By: Kristi Page
Location: Moggs Creek
The 26th of February will be remembered for many reasons, it was one of the few sunny days of summer, it had a spectacular pink and purple awe inspiring sunrise but more importantly it was the date for the Wild Women's Water Day. The event was being held at one of the Surfcoast's best right hand point breaks, Point Impossible but the question was, were the surf gods listening? The Wild Women's Water Day was the first all girl event in Australia that hosted all three surf disciplines short board, long board and stand up paddle.
Surfing has been a popular sport in Australia for a long time but for most of those years surfing was considered a boy's sport. A few decades ago women started to get into it as well, but even to this day the sport is still dominated by the guys. Stand up paddling is still a fairly new sport and trying to find other girls to compete against, especially in cold-water Victoria, is a major challenge.
The women's divisions in warmer states such as New South Wales and Queensland have many more girls competing in SUP, so competing interstate is usually my only option. When I heard that Emma Webb, the current Australian SUP Women's Champion, wanted to run an all girls water day and there was going to be a SUP division, I was so excited. Finally I would be able to compete against other girls on my home turf without having to travel interstate.
The week before the comp, I was checking the swell report every day. The surf was going to be tiny, and though I prayed to Huey, measly one-foot swell it would be. Two of the Queensland girls Alison Fullagar and Jenny Ryan flew down, two days before the comp, bringing the total for the SUP division to eight.
The day of the comp, I was up at 5:30am ready to pack the car and meet at Point Impossible by 7:00am. I went through a mental checklist in my head, picking up things as I passed them and putting them in my wetsuit tub. I made several trips to the car remembering something else each time that I had forgotten due to the excitement. Finally the car was packed, my boards were on the roof and my paddles were in the back seat.
Dad and I pulled into the car park at Point Impossible about ten to seven and to our dismay it was flat. We had driven past 13th Beach on the way down and there was some decent swell there with A framing peaks but it didn't appear to be coming from the right direction for Point Impossible. Emma and the Surfcoast Longboard crew turned up at about 6:55am, assuring us that the comp would be held, just somewhere else. The question was, where?
Moggs Creek was decided to be our new destination. So everyone got back into their cars and we convoyed our way down the Great Ocean Road. We pull up and the surf was only about three foot but it was perfectly clean and as clear as glass. Within the next half an hour, the tent was up, the judges table was in position and the surfing heats had begun.
The stand up heats weren't going to be on until later in the day, around 11 o'clock so Ali, Jenny, Lucy and I went out for a warm up session. The waves were so good in the morning, but I remember going out and being so worried that I'd never even heard of, let alone surfed, Moggs Creek before. I didn't think we were out for too long but by the time we'd got back in the tide had dropped and at least half the beach was exposed. As the tide continued to drop the waves became steeper and smaller by the minute.
The heats were drawn up and I was eager to see who I was up against. Ali was in my heat and there was another lady, Jo. I had never met Jo before but the three of us would make up the second heat with Jenny, Lucy and another two ladies making up the first.
As I waited for my heat, time seemed to slow down and I could feel butterflies rebounding off the walls of my stomach. I watched the longboard girls compete and before I knew it, the first SUP heat was in the water. I got my board and paddle ready and went up to retrieve my contest rashie.
There were five minutes left in the first heat, the tide had continued to drop making the waves the messiest I'd seen all day. The sun was out and the temperature had started to rise, making it perfect bikini weather for Victorians. The three of us paddled out and waited for the siren. I stood on my board and watched as sets of waves rolled in, unridden. Finally the green flag was up, I set my watch timer and our battle began.
We each caught our fair share of waves and I found myself hooting and hollering for the other girls when they caught a good wave. With no hint of testosterone in the water, the competition had a totally new vibe - there was still that competitive edge but nobody was as tense or wound up as you would usually see.
Before I knew it our heat was up and I was walking up to find out the results. I had made it through to the final round, with myself in first place and Jo right behind me. Ali had surfed incredibly well, but unfortunately she hadn't quite made it. I learned in that heat that length of ride was a significant factor the judges were considering.
Jenny Ryan, Lucy Bell and Jo Ambrosi and I were in the finals. I took the opportunity to grab my iPod and get out of the sun. More nervous than ever, I couldn't wait for the final heat! The tide had turned just at the end of my last heat and I watched as the waves just got better and better.
We all gathered on the beach ready to paddle out, rashies on, boards and paddles at the ready. The other three were going to paddle out more to the right and I couldn't resist the opportunity to head for the other peak by myself. The starting siren went off and I had made it my goal to seize the first wave and I was going to smash it. Forty-five seconds in, I caught the first wave of the heat and I went as hard as I could, powering into some solid turns and cut backs. It was probably the best wave I have ever surfed. Not long after, the other girls had started putting scores on the board too. Within minutes the others had paddled over and joined me and we all jostled each other for the best waves.
We had been lucky to get the best waves of the day and by the end of the heat, win or lose, I had had the best surf of my life. The red flag signalled the end of the final and as I body surfed my board into the shore, I could feel the biggest Cheshire cat grin spreading across my face. And I thought to myself, wow, maybe I won this one.
After a heat like that I couldn't help but go out for another free surf with Ali. We were just having fun, lots of fun, ripping into wave after wave before heading to the presso. I got dressed and we started to repack the car, meanwhile, the presentations had started without me and just before they announced the SUP results, Ali screamed out to me to get over there. I arrived just in time to hear that I'd just beaten Jenny on a count back! I don't think I'd ever been that happy in my life. I'd won my first SUP competition! Our final was held in the best waves of the day, I got to surf against some of the best women SUPers in the country and I had the best surf of my life - I truly couldn't have asked for a better day.
A massive thanks to Emma Webb and the Surfcoast Crew for organising and running the competition. It was amazing and I can't wait for next year. To all the competitors, especially Ali and Jenny for travelling down from Queensland, thanks for such a good comp, you guys kept me on my toes. Thanks also to my Dad and Mum and my sponsors; Sea Me Surf Photography, Kialoa Australia, Hive Swimwear, St Kilda SUP Bus, Kahuna Creations and Hinano Tahiti - you guys support me in everything I do, you're amazing.
Hope to see a few more girls next year.