Every man and his dog out for Noosa Festival of Surfing

Man's best friend - until they wipe out! Dogs galore for the Dog Surf Workshop.
Man's best friend - until they wipe out! Dogs galore for the Dog Surf Workshop. Ian Borland

GREY SKIES and small waves haven't dampened the spirits of those enjoying the 23rd annual Cricks Noosa Festival of Surfing.

Saturday kicked off with a dozen novice surfers taking to the empty lineup of First Point Noosa for the inaugural Mojo Surf Backpacker Challenge.

Having travelled up from Sydney, the collection of surf-stoked beginners were given a taste of competition, adjudicated by a panel of world class professional judges.

Thrilled at the opportunity, some of these travellers have had as few as just two lessons, but managed to display their newfound skills with exuberance.

This was followed by the Ocean Addicts SUP Men's Open.

The diminutive waves presented fun, glassy conditions for competitors, local favourites Beau Nixon and Tully St John failing to disappoint with big manoeuvres in the small but perfectly formed waves of First Point.

An afternoon of fun and exhibitions ensued, Tom Wegener presenting the Noosa Biosphere Sustainable Wooden Boards Exhibition.

Alaina's, toothpicks, bellyboards, paipos, all manner of timber craft was being ridden, grins, stoke and party waves the order of the day.

Even Pipeline lifeguard and bodysurfing legend Mark Cunningham was in the lineup, sliding his brains out on a four-foot Wegener paipo.

Furry, four-legged grommets were straining at the leash to get out into the waves for the dogsurf workshop and exhibition, Chris DeAboitz the pack master and top dog for this outstandingly popular annual event.

The Little Humid Costume Party got weird and wonderful, competitors awarded for the most outrageous performances and outfits. Noosa Costume Hire was on hand with all manner of dress-ups, adding even more crazy to the ludicrous. All in the name of fun.

Legends and watermen wrapped up the day, the Local Legends exhibition followed by invitees of the Jeep Waterman Challenge exhibition, Locals Harrison Roach, Matt Cuddihy and Josh Constable joined by Jared Neal, Bryce Young, Harley Ingleby and Taylor Jensen among the invitees of this inaugural event.

Post-presentation, the entertainment hit dry land, Caravana Sun and Mesa Cosa electrifying the Noosa evening with their gypsy-punk-rock jams.

The XXXX Summer Beach Bar provided liquid refreshments for the sun-parched as the evening drew to a close on a resoundingly successful first day of the Cricks Noosa Festival of Surfing presented by Jeep.

Round two of the Ocean Addicts SUP Men's Open launched the second day on Sunday.

Beau Nixon a standout, living up to his Australian and defending festival champion titles. The four heats made the most of an empty First Point lineup, every wave being decimated by competitors across the board.

The Classic Malibu Team Challenge flooded the beach, the 24 surfers in each heat of the tag-team event waiting patiently as their team members revelled in the building swell.

The team challenge is a 40-minute heat, each surfer riding three waves, the top two scoring, while the team' selected power surfer has all three waves scored. Mad cap and mayhem, those on the beach as frenetic as their ocean-bound counterparts.

Local shaper Thomas Bexon of Thomas Surfboards, along with Multiple world longboard champion and birthday boy, Taylor Jensen, surfing astoundingly to place their teams in a commanding position.

The Deus team of Matt Cuddihy, Zye Norris, Harrison Roach and Husni dominated the fourth and final heat of round one with numerous scores in the high eights and above.

SUPs took to the water again for the semi final of the Ocean Addicts Men's Open, all surfers vying for a place in the afternoon's final, while their female counterparts went all out in their one-round division.

Maria Kingy and Jenny Ryan two of the national representatives while Hawaiian Kirra Seale stepped outside of her usual women's open division, taking up paddle and adding international flavour to this open-heat competition.

A stoke-infused afternoon brought the pre-teens into the lineup, the Vegemite Surf Groms enjoying empty waves in a safe and fun environment and there was nothing holding them back from throwing themselves into any wave that came their way.

Water Safety chief, Merrick Davis made sure all the kids got their turn, a lighter aspect of the otherwise serious and proficient work he does all week long.

It was a waiting game for defending event champion, Beau Nixon, waves backing off leaving finalists in the Ocean Addicts Men's SUP fighting over the few good waves and practicing patience.

Not enough for Nixon, he was forced to relinquish his crown, Justin Holland opening the heat with an eight-point ride and not letting go of the lead for the duration.

Legends past and present presented an incredible display across disciplines, from the short boarding of seven-times world champion Layne Beachley and Merrick Davis, to the longboarding of world champions Californians Taylor Jensen and Jen Smith, Harley Ingleby (Coffs Harbour) and Noosa's Josh Constable and the phenomenal bodysurfing of Hawaiian legend Mark Cunningham and Harrison Roach.

Festival regulars, Fred and Lily Branger led the contingent of tandem surfers for an exhibition surf, the former world champion duo unleashing some breathtaking new manoeuvres to again wow the crowd with their spectacular display.

A select field of paddlers took to the bay for the Ocean Addicts 5km paddle as a brief squall dampened the sand, but not the spirits and the traditional Ho'okupu ceremony marked the official opening of the 2014 Cricks Noosa Festival of Surfing presented by Jeep.

It was again a sell-out affair for the Dog Surfing Spectacular, the beach standing room only for this ever-popular event.

The local indigenous community was gratefully represented by the Gubbi Gubbi dancers, giving thanks and respect to the original locals for this wonderful land.

The dynamic tunes of the Hayden Hat Infusion lit up the Noosa night, injecting infectious vibes into the XXXX Summer Beach Bar, bringing a close to a successful day two.

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Instagram: #noosafestivalofsurfing

Topics:  noosa noosa festival of surfing surfing

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