New York goes bonkers for longboard classic

Tom Offermann introduces his new surfing ambassador, Josh Constable. Photo supplied.

By Phil Jarratt

Sadly it was off the back of the tragic hurricane event that swept through the Bahamas last week, but it was great to see the WSL New York Longboard Classic get some pumping surf for the start of the third event of the revamped longboard tour.

Eight years ago the World Surf League was in the early stages of the hand-over of the reins of the professional sport from ASP when it joined forces with Quiksilver to stage the richest event in surfing history at Long Beach, Nassau County. Given the general quality of surf in the US north-east, it was a calculated gamble to be sure, but Quiksilver’s Manhattan stores were going gangbusters as America climbed out of the sub-prime crisis, and the brass on Mahogany Row in Huntington Beach hadn’t yet realized that the world’s biggest surf-co was on the bones of its butt, so there was money to burn. Besides, Dirk Ziff, the billionaire new owner of the WSL, had deep pockets.

That crazy event also enjoyed killer waves courtesy of hurricane havoc in the lower Atlantic, and Owen Wright deservedly took out the $US300K record purse. Everyone had a blast, despite the fact that the Teamster toughs nearly brought the organizers to their knees on several occasions.

The NYC Longboard Classic was somewhat lower key, with just ten percent of Owen’s loot on offer in both the men’s and women’s divisions, but hey, world titles are up for grabs, every point counts and every man and his dog was out to grab some, including such lycra deniers as Joel Tudor, who stopped whining about how screwed the system was for long enough to smash through the early rounds and get into the dough.

As the top seeds joined the pack in round three, there were some stellar performances from rankings leaders Chloe Calmon (Brazil) and Justin Quintal (Florida), but for mine the standout surfers were Hawaii’s Kaniela Stewart and Kelis Kaleopaa. Noosa longboarders know exactly what these two talented kids are capable of, and if the swell holds just a little for the final rounds, they’ll both be right up there.

Noosa Mal Club’s Nic Brewer, Kirra Molnar and former world champ Josh Constable were all unlucky to lose out in heats that chopped and changed lead every set. Kirra seemed set for a win until she missed priority on the best set, and Josh sat patiently behind a rampaging Troy Mothershead until a gross over-score on Peru’s Lucas Lecca’s final wave saw him turn the tables on Josh from the Noosa Pro last March.

As I write, it’s the same old story, my deadline will beat final results by at least one day, but from a local perspective, Harrison Roach, currently ranked number two, is looking deadly but must get past Taylor Jensen. Emily Lethbridge is also surfing very well, but must get past number one Chloe Calmon.

Josh joins Team Offermann

As much as I’m sure our Noosa World Surfing Reserve ambassador Josh Constable was bummed to have his world title campaign derailed in New York, back home in Noosa he’s got plenty to be cheerful about, and I don’t just mean gorgeous wife Anna and rising surf stars Jet and Jive.

No, our Josh has taken on another ambassador role, this time representing real estate king Tom Offermann in sponsored social media surf reports and newsy video blogs in which Josh will apply his extraordinary gourmet tastes to guiding surf tourists to the best chow houses in town. It wasn’t mentioned in despatches, but presumably Josh will also be giving local surf mongrels the inside running whenever a cheapo beach frontage at Sunshine pops up on the Offermann radar. When I say “cheap”, I mean a bit less than the $8 million and $11 million offerings I saw in last weekend’s national media. Actually, maybe a lot less.

The Offermann empire has been a long-time supporter of surf life saving in our town, so good on you Tom, for coming over to the dark side. And Josh, a consummate performer in and out of the water over a long and distinguished competitive career, won’t let you down.

Reminder: Nat’s sermon at Land and Sea tonight

The irrepressible Nat (72 years) Young is in town tonight (Thursday) preaching the gospel of his latest book Church of the Open Sky at Land and Sea Brewery from 6pm. It’s a great read from a true legend of our sport and culture, so don’t miss out. Tickets are $28, including welcoming drink and grazing board, so that’ll cover dinner as well as the show. Bookings on 5448 2053 or email anniesbooks@bigpond.com, and if you’re reading this an hour before start time, just turn up and chance your arm.

I’ll be chewing the fat with Nat, and he’ll be showing some pictures and sharing some amazing adventures. We’ll also be doing some fundraising for the Noosa World Surfing Reserve, including tickets in a raffle to win a beautiful Fuyu surfboard by Paul Winter. Hope to see you there.

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