Stockton Beach, Newcastle, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA (Sunday, February 8, 2015)
There was a little bit of déjà vu on Stockton Beach today as the 2013 Orica Team Challenge runner up, North Shelly Boardriders, Central Coast, NSW and the 2014 Orica Team Challenge champion North Narrabeen Boardriders, Sydney, NSW surfed off in the final of the Orica Team Challenge in small (0.5-1.0 metre) but very clean conditions on Stockton Beach.
On day three of the event, the very strong North Shelly team defeated the very experienced team from Culbarra Boardriders, South Coast, NSW in the first semifinal. In the second semifinal the North Narrabeen second string team, the Narrabeen ‘Blacks’ fought a close heat with the last local team in the event, the Bay Area Boardriders ‘Brawlers,’ Anna Bay, NSW.
As the 2015 Orica Team Challenge final hit the water the wind turned onshore from the north east making conditions a little more difficult. The Narrabeen team of Matt Hardy, Kai Warner and Rob Hazelwood got off to a strong start with Hardy scoring 16.5 leading North shelly surfer Zac Vaughan who opened with a 13.63.
Kai Warner, the second North Narrabeen surfer scored 18.44 giving his team an almost unassailable lead. North Shelly’s second surfer Shane Holmes opened with a 4.2 leaving his club needing 20.25 before Holmes surfed his double points power wave.
With ample time remaining Holmes waited patiently as North Narrabeen last surfer, Rob Hazelwood caught a small low scoring wave to increase the lead over North Shelly. Holmes’s power wave was 11.27 leaving his club to find only an 8.78.
North Shelly’s last surfer Russ Molony, a former World Tour surfer and nine times Wandiyali Indigenous Classic champion, had plenty of time to catch two waves.
Hazelwood waited 20 minutes for his power wave. Molony opened with a 3.9. Then Hazelwood fell on his power wave scoring only 2.4. This opened the door for Molony who now only needed to score a 7.28 power wave to take the 2015 Orica Team Challenge from the reigning champs North Narrabeen. With 10 minutes left in the final Molony scored 9.33 on his power wave taking their first Orica Team Challenge title.
Molony said, “I was so stressed. This event is stressful. We felt confident coming into the quarter finals and when we beat the Culbarra team who have two QS surfers (Ty Watson and Jay Quinn) we were quietly confident. It is so much fun this event even if you do stress out. We are also stoked to make up for our loss to Frenchmans Boardriders in the 2013 final. I’m really looking forward now to the Wandiyali Classic on Wednesday.”
North Narrabeen president, Rob Hazelwood was almost inconsolable as he knew his poor wave choice for his power wave meant that the North Shelly surfer, Russ Molony was more than capable of getting the score they needed.
Hazelwood said, “I’m dirty on myself. I blew it for the boys. This team was put together in a hurry as most of our best surfers like Cooper Chapman and Davey Cathels, who won the Orica last year, had to pull out as they are surfing in the Australian Open in Sydney. I am kind of pleased though for the effort of my guys in all the circumstances. We will be back next year to try to repeat our win in 2014.”