Some of the Australian Defence Force’s best surfers took on, and defeated, British Army and Royal Air Force surfing teams at the inaugural Defence International Surf Festival on in early May.
Overall, the Australian Defence Force came out the victors, taking home the trophy with the highest overall points tally and firsts in every individual event and the teams’ category.
The Australian Defence Force Surfriders Association hosted the event held near Ulladulla on the New South Wales south coast, which comprised 26 Australian and 45 British competitors.
Association President Major Myles Conquest said the festival consisted of an orientation week for all international competitors to adapt to the local conditions, followed by competition in shortboard, longboard, bodyboard, men’s, women’s and team events.
“After an orientation week, travelling to well-known surf locations along the coast, the British visitors familiarised themselves with Australia’s surf conditions and participated in cross training delivered by other experienced Australian competitors,” he said.
“The training delivered was designed to increase the surfers’ lung capacities and to simulate the same rough conditions experienced when being held down by larger waves.
“Joining the full complement of the Australian Defence Force surf team during the second week of their visit, the Royal Air Force and British Army members competed in heats with the top-scoring surfers going through to the finals.
“With near perfect surf conditions during the heats, surfers displayed extreme courage in six-foot surf, fighting against strong currents and challenging waves,” Major Conquest said.
With four-time (1979-1982) Australian world surfing champion Mark Richards in attendance, and a cliff-top audience watching on for the final day of competition, the pressure was on.
Scoring points were achieved by an accumulation of different board manoeuvres in the critical section of the wave.
Highest single wave score and highest combined heat score went to Petty Officer Aviation Technician Avionics Jordan Dank with a 10-point wave and 18.5 total heat score.
Major Conquest said with a stellar day and six foot waves, even the dolphins came out to play in the competition area.
“Inspired surfing captured in photo and film was enjoyed by all the competitors during the final awards ceremony, with the British Army taking out second place and the Royal Air Force third,” he said.
The Association is an officially accredited sporting association bringing together full-time and reserve men and women of the Navy, Army and Air Force under the one banner.
The Association promotes professionalism, teamwork, respect, individual fitness and resilience on a backdrop of competitive surfing.
The Association is negotiating to expand the competition to include other interested countries in the future and hopes to run a reciprocal visit with the United Kingdom in 2018.
Association media officer Army Lieutenant Megan Pate said the organisation also worked with Australian Defence Force and community organisations to support wounded, injured and ill serving members and veterans.
“It is considering growing its aims to develop an adaptive surfing category to support our wounded, injured and ill members to participate in the future competitions and events, and hopes to support the Invictus Games in 2018,” she said.
“Competition in the Festival represents the pinnacle of representative surfing in the military and is one of the few sports accredited by the Australian Defence Force in which men and women compete against one another in a teams’ event.”