What a way to kick off the Shaw and Partners Summer of Surf. A trip to the south side of Sydney that had surf, southerlies, and plenty of special performances.
If this is anything to go by, we’re in for a special season.
We saw some favourites deliver big, some young guns make their mark and a couple of the sports best show signs that should scare their rivals watching from the tents.
A look at Saturdays arena & conditions thanks to Jason Sutcliffe (BondiRipper)
This result looks obvious on paper with BHMP’s Ben Carberry coming off an incredible season last summer but generally Carbs will build into the season, so for him to show out in the Shaw and Partners Summer of Surf opener is a scary sign for his rivals. He spoke about last season’s prep being the first one ever he didn’t do “part time,” so if he has continued that over winter, he might be the new favourite for the Ironman title.
Newport’s Connor Maggs was second (more on him later) and the Manly veteran, Kendrick Louis was third.
The big surf wreaked havoc on this one, with 6 girls failing to finish the final. This result excited me as it showed off the depth of girls coming through. Newport’s Piper Harrison claimed the win and 5000pts – Harrison has been close to breaking into the top tier of Ironwomen for 18months now and this seems like the sign of it happening, will be interesting to follow the rest of her summer.
Claudia Rose Slaven scored more points finishing second than she did all of last season in the Iron, so she’s obviously had a fantastic winter under coach Michael King. While Manly finished with another Bronze thanks to Georgia Singleton.
In the preview for this one, I listed about 20 chances but thought it’d be the ironmen that would get it done and that was the case; Kendrick Louis taking out this from, Cronulla’s Jay Furniss and BHMP’s Corey Fletcher.
Skills and strength in big surf are more important than pure speed; and Louis has some of the best skills in the sport and is as strong as they come. Plus coming off the Shaw and Partners Coolangatta Gold, his ski leg was always going to be good this time of year.
I had Eliza Johnson as a roughie in this one because of her performances at Aussies and back-to-back finals at the Shaw and Partners Friday shootout and Shannon Eckstein Ironman Classic in huge surf – and boy did she deliver. Her best result last summer was a 5th at Freshwater – she’s now leading the series.
Manly’s Ella Garrett in second and Piper Harrison continued to get it done, in third.
Connor Maggs produced the goods in the first final of the day and began his summer showing no signs of a “second season struggle.” After bursting onto the open scene and then dominating the Australian Titles in his age in 2023; the u19 athlete had two wins and a second in the big 4 events at Wanda, solidifying his place as a future star of the sport; and making him one to watch in the MVP race this season.
North Curl Curl’s Luke Higgs made it a northern beaches quinella, while Cooks Hill’s Charlie Walker rounded out the podium.
The women’s Surf Race was another one for the up and comers with Newport transfer Sarah Locke (and roughie pick) taking the win is huge conditions. Locke is a gun pool swimmer turned Ironwoman and with her Dad being the oldest bloke to ever win a medal in the mixed double at Aussies (read that as “animal”) – the future is very bright for her.
North Curly continued their meteoric rise from junior powerhouse to senior club punching above its weight with Ashleigh Windsham finishing second, and Redhead’s Aus Junior rep Lani Waller rounding out the podium.
The second of the Maggs double was the board race, and anytime you get a win over BHMP’s Corey Fletcher it’s a good day. Newport transfer Charlie Verco finished with the bronze in a very high quality final that saw a few of the big guns missing after getting knocked in the semi’s.
See above for the Connor Maggs wrap but it’s scary if the Newport wonder kid is winning both the swim and board at just 17yrs old, give it time for his strength to develop and his ski leg to come in and he’s going to be a VERY good athlete if he doesn’t smash to many mid carnival kebabs.
Manly’s Georgia Singleton might be the most underrated board paddler in the summer of surf. After finishing 6th overall in the board series last summer, she’s kicked off this summer with a strong win in tough conditions to fire a warning shot to her rivals. North Curl Curl’s Ashleigh Windsham scored a Richie Benaud (two two’s) with her second silver for the day. Windsham was ranked 148th last summer in the board, now she’s second.
Newport’s Analise Kibble was rewarded for a tough day with a Bronze after being close in most of the other finals.
The home team were very strong in a topsy turvey final that saw many of the pre-race favourites come unstuck in the big swell.
Wanda called on some young guns on the men’s side with Nic Middleton and Noah Steiner, while veteran Michael Georgaris did it for the old men; while on the women’s side it was all class from Brit Peirce, Taylar Puskaric and the baby of the squad India Hulbert.
An equally young Newport squad finished second, who were bolstered by transfers Locke and Verco; while the surprise packet was Swansea Belmont who finished on the podium in only the second time the club has ever raced in the event.