I Went To The 2018 Kiama Pro And All I Got Was This Lousy Blog Post
In most cases during that thing we loosely refer to as Life™, you nail your part but are left dry-retching due to circumstances completely out of your control. Like your sideways mate who commits to a wild night out, yet is nowhere to be seen as you board the dingy City Rail carriage you arranged to meet on. The same can be said about the first Australian world tour comp in over five years – the pudding was there, but old mate Huey forgot the custard.
Despite the commendable efforts of Alex Leon and his merry band of APB aides (reports suggest the corporate sponsors were, unsurprisingly, unfazed by the lack of waves and overjoyed by the event's crowd-pulling power), the waves simply failed to show up for the 2018 Kiama Bodyboard King Pro; and as the event draws to a frustrating close, we wanted to find some clarity among the conflicting swell charts, stubborn east coast high pressure systems and, more importantly, bodyboarding's sudden obsession with high-octane disc throwing.
The sweet smell of nostalgia
As the saying goes, “Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn” – and so the wise yet nimble bodyboarding elite converged on Kiama over the two-week-long waiting period. In most modern-day sporting codes the number thirty represents experience, but also indicates you're on the wind-down as a professional athlete. The same could not be said when observing the lineup of the Australian leg – Jeff Hubbard, Andrew Lester, Toby and Ben Player, Mike Stewart and eventual winner Dave Winchester showed their worth and not their age. Add to that, their long-standing bromances brought to the fore once again. You couldn’t help but take a big whiff of the nostalgia washing over Surf Beach as the Player brothers shared a brew on the sand, or as Winny whipped the frisbee to Rawlins, or seeing Hubb and Lester chuckling away in the competitors area reminiscing over heats of old. Throw in the two missing links – Hardy and Kingy – and you'd have had enough OG star power for Whitey to whip out the handycam and start filming Tension 11.
World tour, up late
The 3 Amigos premiere was caught and tagged by some of the world's best bodyboarders, who spilled over from the comp and were on-hand to dissect the output of Tom Jennings and James Stricland, starring the West Oz trio. The swelling crowd was treated to a groundbreaking display of world class wave-riding by George Humphries, Davis Blackwell and Lewy Finnegan. Spectators were left wide-eyed. One punter could be heard exclaiming, "These West Oz fellas are getting me higher than Shayden Shrayder's cappuccinos on a Wednesday night bender". Riding high on the electricity of the premiere, Stanwell Park's Dane Woods took it upon himself to trash a local Wollongong hotel room in the wee hours of Saturday morning, declaring, "When you come in hot, you stay lit, and when you stay lit, c*#ts get hit".
Back by popular demand, three-time world champion Ben Player threw his competitive rig into the spotlight as the L.A (Little Avalon, not Los Angeles) local cemented his spot in the top 16, despite the dismal wave conditions. Being a known Sydney coffee snob, it was unsurprising to hear the slender man emptying his nerves into an unsuspecting Kiama sewer trap before the session rounds took place. Player's upper half may be in order when it comes to this mag and his general sanity, but moments of tension can be known to unravel his digestive nerve and put other competitors on the back foot as they literally scurry away from his repercussions.
The red-headed spanner
Despite Iain Campbell leaping his way into the final with all the professionalism and determination required to claim another world title, a spanner in the works placed the Springbok's world title pursuit on the back-burner in the form of eternal grom, Dave Winchester. With only 2.6 points separating the four finalists, it was anxiously close as Moroccan Brahim Iddouch and Japan's Hayato Enokido resorted to a range of high flying ARSs, but couldn’t match the eight-point ride Winny banked in his back pocket. Will Campbell's dream be possibly completed further down the line in a much more high-performance setting like Nazare?
Disc jockeys assemble
Bodyboarding wasn’t the only sport in high demand at Kiama. Grown men, who normally enjoy the boogie, took to the skies to hone their hand-eye coordination in the form of long and arduous frisbee sessions. Rawlins, Stone, Winny, John Cruickshank, Tanner McDaniel and the Player brothers could be found cocking their wrists most days as their free time was engulfed by the mesmerising and gravity-defying ring of plastic. Spectators, media and the general public have been rumoured to have signed waiver forms stating they would not pursue legal action if any stray spinning wheels of death came in contact with them while standing on comp soil.
Girls light up
It was the Pro Women's division that really showed what a tight-knit group of soul’s bodyboarding currently holds. After sweeping through the relevant social media channels, Movement’s sleuths were astounded by the level of camaraderie present amongst all the chicks. From regular trips to the Berry Donut Van for a sugar fix, to day jaunts down Bawley Point tuning local friendly 'roos – all the women seemed to be joined at the hip.
Lord of the pipes
Much like the great and late Richie Benaud, bodyboarding is fortunate enough to have a set of pipes that stirs up crowd interest like a bull in a china store, and we owe this to none other than Sir Terrance McKenna. Yet to be officially knighted, Tezza conjures up anecdotal velvet on a daily basis as he literally just lets the ear porn spill down his proud Novocastrian chin, not allowing subpar waves to get in the way of an exciting and honest call. Us sleuths here at Movement salute an iconic figure of the sport who will forever be the life of the party.
Last but not least, Mayor of Kiama Mark Honey issued a bold statement during the final’s presentation, stating all he needed was a “Mach-77 Solider” underneath him and he would don the world tour rashie in next year's Kiama Pro. While Honey joked about his enthusiasm to make a triumphant return to the boog scene, many noted his eagerness to continue the local council's relationship with the ABP as a real positive toward securing a regular Australian leg on the world tour. An overworked Leo could be seen in the nearby park doing cartwheels towards the local bottle-o as the prestigious farmer let his body language do the talking.