WHAT an incredible turnout it was on Saturday for the Phillip Island National Surfing Reserve Surfing Teams Challenge.
Eleven teams took part in the challenge, now in its fourth year, at Smiths Beach.
Archysurf were the team challenge winners, followed by Island Surfboards and Smiths Beach.
Organisers changed venues numerous times to get the best conditions for surfers, and ultimately decided on the morning of the event to head to Smiths Beach.
It began with a Welcome to Country by Steve Parker, a descendant of the Boonwurrung people.
Then surfers were off, running out into the water and making the best of a day where wind and rain hammered surfers in the morning.
But many visitors weren’t phased, knowing they would be diving into the water soon enough.
Sally O’Neill, who helped organise the event, said surfers look forward to the event each year because of its unique format and large supporter base.
“The Phillip Island National Surfing Reserve was declared in 2013 and it’s really about protect, preserve and share,” Ms O’Neill said.
“When we had our first anniversary, we thought a great way to celebrate would be to have a community surfing competition, and it was such a success that we’ve come back every year.”
It was a day full of fierce competition, with challenging conditions for surfers.
One of the event’s organisers, Geoff Owens, said you can never bank on what the ocean’s going to throw at you.
“This is probably the worst conditions we’ve had, unfortunately.
“But everyone’s still got a smile on their face and enjoying themselves.”
Westernport Water took home the ‘Team spirit’ award. The ‘Encouragement’ award went to Zach Chiaradia from team Penguins. Other awards were as follows:
Best super grommet – Jake Bill, Archysurf
Best junior – Codie Jeffrey, TMT
Best emerging open surfer – Chad Garrett, Woolamai Hards
Best female – Sage Goldsbury, Woolamai Hards
Best kneeboarder – Kirk Irvin, True Team
Best single fin rider – Eli Curry, Smiths Beach
The organisers would like to extend their gratitude to the steering committee, Bass Coast Shire Council, and Phillip Island Nature Parks, the local Lions club and many more organisations that helped out along the way and on Saturday to make it such a successful day.
Ms O’Neill said they’re already planning the event for next year.
“Overall, it was a great day with record numbers despite challenging conditions.”
Team surfing fun despite conditions