Jim Beam Surftag National Series Kicks Off This Weekend
Australia’s premier boardriding club Snapper Rocks Surfriders will begin their Surftag title defence when the Queensland leg of the Jim Beam Surftag National Series gets underway at Duranbah Beach on Saturday.
Last year the Snapper Rocks club won the QLD Surftag qualifier and then went on to win the National Surftag Title, convincingly beating Curl Curl, Noosa and Cronulla in the final - their third QLD title and second National crown. Snapper Rocks will enter the one-day event with an embarrassment of riches this year with Team Manager Lorraine Bryant indicating the club is set to enter a second team courtesy of the depth in their ranks.
All five members of last year’s victorious squad - Shane Bevan, Jay Phillips, Shaun Gossman, Damon Harvey and Brent Dorrington - are available, as well as Dorrington’s brother, Luke, who recently won the MP Classic. Former World Championship Tour surfer Bevan says that a lot of Snapper’s success comes down to the closeness of the surfers and the depth in the club.
“The Surftag means a lot to me because you surf for your club with your friends which is always fun," Bevan said. “As well as the fun though, it is really serious and because we are close friends we get hungry together to do well as a team. No one ever wants to let their mates down. We (Snapper) are consistent across the board and the thing is we love doing it. But that also means it is never easy because every other team wants to beat our team. They are all gunning for us." The powerhouse club is also hoping to be further strengthened this week as they await word from the ASP on whether they can include WCT surfers Joel Parkinson, Dean Morrison and Josh Kerr in their starting line up.
While the addition of Parkinson, Morrison and Kerr would boost any line-up, Bevan is confident Snapper can surf well without their WCT stars. “Whether we have those guys or not we’re still strong across the board," Bevan said. “We have plenty of experienced guys that have done well on the WQS and also some great juniors who are doing well right now."
Snapper Rocks has one of the largest junior nurseries in Australian surfing with 80 young members between the ages of five and 15. Snapper’s Coolangatta rivals, Kirra Surfriders, who finished fourth in last year’s QLD Jim Beam Surftag and fifth at the Nationals, will also be boosted if the WCT surfers are given permission to compete with world number three Mick Fanning and former WCT surfer Darren O’Rafferty likely to join inform ripper Cory Ziems in their team.
With each club represented by five surfers, many of the 16 clubs entered will be stacked with WQS competitors. The top four QLD teams will qualify for the Jim Beam Surftag National Final that is being held in Sydney on March 2 and 3 and Snapper will be looking to join Sydney’s North Narrabeen as the only club with two teams through to the finals.
Led by former world champion Damian Hardman and with a powerful performance from Nathan Webster, the North Narrabeen club dominated the early rounds of the NSW qualifier before both teams faded in the semi finals. In the NSW final, North Steyne, fired up by the presence and stellar performances from WCT rookies Dayyan Neve and Kai Otton, defeated Northern Beaches rivals Curl Curl and Wollongong club Werri Beach.
Event Director Steve Harrison said: “The Queensland Surftag qualifier is always an exciting event with so many great clubs fighting for a top four finish. This year’s series has attracted a record field of 62 teams from all over Australia so it will be interesting to see which Queensland clubs will be heading to the National Final."
The clubs entered to compete in the QLD round of the Jim Beam Surftag are - North Shore, Noosa, Mudjimba, North End, MNM (Mermaid Nobbys Miami), Burleigh, Palm Beach, Alley (Currumbin), Kirra, Snapper Rocks A & B, Cabarita, Kingscliff, Byron Bay, LeBa (Lennox Ballina).
Also up for grabs this weekend is $3000 that includes a $1200 winners cheque, the overall series prize pool is $100,000 in cash and prizes which includes $8,000 for the National Champions as well as a surf trip to the Mentawai’s for the five surfers in the winning team.
The Jim Beam Surftag National Series is run under the popular tag team format with each club being represented by five surfers. In relay style each surfer catches three waves and then returns to the beach to tag the next surfer. All three waves ridden count towards the team’s final score with each surfer’s second wave worth double points “Powerwave". Bonus points are also on offer for each team’s fifth surfer returning to the tag area before the one hour time limit.
The 2007 Jim Beam Surftag National Series is proudly supported by Jim Beam, Face of Australia Sunscreen, Mentawai Resorts, vmoto, Oporto, Coastalwatch and Australia’s Surfing Life.