NORTH HAVEN (Thursday 16th August 2012): Jackson Close wins back-to-back titles at the Australian Surf Festival, supported by Essential Energy. Hailing from Coolangatta, QLD, Close defended his Australian Longboard Title at North Haven beach in clean three foot waves.
A determined Close was quick to secure a big score early. His strong opening maneuver with a big re-entry nailed an 8.00 ride, leaving local favourite Darren O’Rafferty, (Bonny Hills, NSW) and current NSW champion Jared Neal (Saphire Beach, NSW) chasing the lead.
O’Rafferty jumped onto a right-hander on the northern bank tucking into a clean barrel and Neal scored a couple of equally solid waves early in the final. Close’s wave selection was perfect and his closing 7.35 ride was unmatchable, reclaiming the title against two of Australia’s top Longboarders.
“Im so happy, I think I put too much pressure on myself this year to try and win it again and I was getting so nervous. Last night I was hoping that it wasn't a close out shore break so it wasn’t a lucky dip who got the waves and who didn’t”, said Close.
“I ended up getting my wish, so we were all in the one position and it all came down to picking them, picking the right one that ran all the way. I’m just on top of the world, I feel great”, said an elated Close who will now go into training for the Australian Stand Up Paddleboard titles.
The epic week of surfing saw competitors test Diamond Head, Shelly Beach and finally North Haven in a quest for the title. The variety of beaches offered good banks and new Open Womens champion Georgia Young (Swanbourne, WA), relished in her first Australian Title.
“We have had such good waves all week, to have a bit of swell and size over here it suits me perfectly, I’ve had so much fun in every heat”, said Young after winning the Open Womens final after an undefeated run from her opening heat.
“I’ve had a couple of years off so I was so pumped to come back this year. I’ve come pretty close a few times, I’ve had a couple of seconds and a third so yeah I’m really happy”, said Young.
Traveling from Swanbourne with a very strong Western Australian team and cheer squad, Young was stoked to have all of her supporters welcoming her on the beach straight after her win.
“Its so good for all these W.A. guys to come over, its an expensive trip. So to have this big turn up is amazing, the support from the west aussies is great”, said an elated Young of her first win in the Australian Titles.
Crowned on the beach along with the open winners was over 35 mens champion, Damian Coulter (QLD), over 40 mens champion Richard Smith (NSW) and over 45 mens champion Hayden Swan (Yamba, NSW).
Junior divisions got underway today and tomorrow will see the finals for the over 35 womens, juniors and the elder statesmen in the more experienced divisions.