Forster’s Joe Haddon tames wild surf to claim his fourth Wandiyali ATSI Indigenous Classic title

Caption: Wandiyali Classic 2018 winners. Pic: Paul Danovaro

MASSIVE swells pounded Merewether beach and smashed surfboards on the final day of the Wandiyali ATSI Indigenous Classic, Australia’s richest Indigenous surfing contest. Wandiyali means porcupine in the Wiradjuri language

Surfers from around the nation vied for titles across four divisions in the classic as part of 2018 Surfest in waves that peaked during the morning’s incoming tide in the 8-10 feet range and resulted in multiple broken boards and some heavy wipe-outs.

The 2017 runner-up Joe Haddon went one better this year and was crowned champion in the open men’s division, pocketing $6,000 and a wildcard entry into the Burton Automotive Pro, which starts with the round of 144 at the same break tomorrow morning.

In the final, natural-footer Haddon racked up a 9 and an 8.4 to combo his competitors and ensure his name would again be etched on the trophy, after last taking the winner’s cheque in this event back in 2012. His first win at Surfest’s Indigenous competition was in 2004 and he backed that win up in 2005.

Haddon said the event was the best Indigenous surfing event in the nation.

‘Wandiyali put everything into this event, they make it such an unreal event for all of us – it’s got to be the best Indigenous comp we have,’ the 32-year-old carpenter from Forster said.

Now the father of two young children, Haddon admitted he hasn’t had a lot of surfing time lately, but said this win provides the perfect preparation going into heat 24 of the round of 144 in the men’s WSL QS 6000 Burton Automotive Pro.

But first he’s back to Forster after revealing he felt a bit under-gunned in today’s heavy conditions.

‘I was riding 5’ 6’’ all day but it’s got a pretty solid fin setup. But I’ll need a wider range of boards for the QS tomorrow,’ he said.

‘I’ll go home tonight and get some more boards, and once I see the surf tomorrow I’ll be keen to get into it,’ Haddon said after being presented with the Russ Molony perpetual trophy, an honour he said he has been after for more than a decade.

‘I love the sound of being in the event tomorrow. I feel warmed up now and I can’t wait to get out there,’ he added.

Molony, who was also surfing at Newcastle beach today for North Shelly Boardriders in the nudie Australian Boardriders Battle, arrived late for the final because of team duties. By doing so, Molony sacrificed the opportunity to win his 12th Wandiyali ATSI Classic.

Former pro surfer and 1988 Pipeline Master’s champion Robbie Page reminded the crowd at the presentation today that Russell Molony gave up the opportunity for individual reward today by surfing for his team mates in the ABB.

‘Let’s not forget what Russ Molony did today where he made a choice to surf for his club. That’s worth acknowledging and a round of applause,’ he said to an appreciative crowd.

Byron Bay’s Tom Avery won the longboard final in a heat he rated as near perfect.

“The final had a high tide which made it easier to get out and some big 12 foot faces which made it a bit of a dream. It was easily the best surf I’ve seen for an Indigenous contest,” said Avery.

‘With all the waves and all the people, the event is just unreal – we get really looked after here. I rode a pin tail thruster ESP shape which went great out there too. I am really stoked to win.’

Emerging surf talents Finn Hill from Avoca and Bateau Bay’s Jasmine McCorquodale were crowned junior men’s and open women’s champion respectively. Both praised the laid-back vibe of the contest and the opportunity to mix with Indigenous surfers from around the nation.

‘I got one at the start, then there was a huge lull and after that I got hammered by sets towards the end, so it paid off getting a quick start,’ Finn said.

‘It’s really fun to surf in these events, I surfed last week here in the nib Pro Junior, but this is a totally different vibe and it’s pretty sick,’ he added.

Jasmine McCorquodale, who was part of the Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College team that won the Reflections Holiday Parks High School Team Challenge as part of Surfest last Friday, won the women’s event at Nobbys Beach on Saturday, in smaller two-to-three foot surf.

‘It was still pretty tough out there, it was really inconsistent but all the girls surfed really well. It’s awesome to get some good wins under my belt, especially here – I love being a part of the Indigenous community so it means a lot for me to win,’ Jasmine said.

1. Joe Haddon (Forster, NSW) (17.4) $6000
2. Noah Munro (NoraVille, NSW) (12.7) $4000
3. Zac Condon (Lennox Head, NSW) (9.8) $2000
4. Russell Molony (North Shelly, NSW) (0) $1500
1. Jasmine McCorquodale (Bateau Bay, NSW) $1500
2. Charlie Law (One Mile, NSW) $750
3. Jalaan Slab (Fingal Head, NSW) $500
4. Kyra Simon (Forster, NSW) $250
1. Finn Hill (Avoca Beach, NSW) (11.6) $1000
2. Rohnin Henry-Micale (Bellambi, NSW) (8.2) $500
3. Taj Simon (Port Kembla, NSW) (7.8) $300
4. Jed McDonagh (Forster, NSW) (5.1) $200
1. Tom Avery (Kingscliff, NSW) (13.8) $1000
2. Jamie Archibald (Port Macquarie) (7.9) $500
3. Bijang Slabb (Fingal Head, NSW) (3.8) $300
4. Robert Page (Kempsey, NSW) (3.6) $200