Organisers were forced to delay proceedings until after midday on day four of the Mark Richards Pro and the Midori Pro at Newcastle’s Merewether beach today.
While the past three days have provided postcard like conditions with cloudless skies and small clean waves fanned by an offshore breeze, today saw clouds roll in and create very dark conditions.
Accompanying the cloudy sky was a severe south westerly that blew conditions flat and its ferocity blew a marquee out of the contest area, over a fence and out onto the street.
No one was injured and all marquees were immediately secured.
While the event has been delayed because of storm swells on numerous occasions – including a massive swell two years ago -today was the first time in six years that the World Qualifying Series event in Newcastle was postponed because of a lack of swell.
Small conditions that were not contestable on the high tide forced head judge Richie Porta to make the delay call for the benefit of both surfers and spectators.
“With the conditions this morning, the tide was too high, the waves were too small and we knew there was a southerly change coming in.
“We wanted to wait and see what happened and the waves got progressively worse so we made the choice to put the event on hold.
“Now the wind has backed off and the swell looks like it’s getting better, and we’ll run the round of 96 today.
“To make up the time we’re going to run all the heats in the men’s round today then run a ten-hour day tomorrow to make sure we get back on schedule for the rest of the weekend,” said Porta.
Surfers to make the best of the conditions today when the event re-commenced shortly after midday included Aussies Owen Wright, Toby Martin, Dylan Hannah, Brent Dorrington, Luke Campbell, Rhys Bombaci and Jarrad Sullivan.
Last weekend’s Motorola Pro Junior winner at the same beach, Owen Wright from Culburra on the New South Wales South Coast, said he didn’t mind the contest recommencing in the small conditions accompanied by a light offshore wind.
“I went alright – I was very comfortable out there,” Wright said.
“I rode the same left that I have been surfing for nearly a week now so that worked well for me.
“I love it when there is heaps of waves and there were definitely heaps in my heat so there was plenty to work with,” Wright said.
Today’s delay means the women’s round of 24 in the 6-star Midori Pro will get underway tomorrow (Friday) morning at 7.30am.
The outlook is for increasing swell tomorrow which creates a favourable outlook for the finals of the 6-star Midori Pro on Saturday and the 4-star Mark Richards Pro on Sunday.