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Noosa Festival – Finless Special

After leaving a rainy Fish Fry behind I hit the aptly named Sunshine Highway and finally set about reaching the destination I’ve craved since landing in Australia – Noosa Heads.

My love for Noosa – despite never being there before – is founded on photos and tales of epic point breaks, perfect for longboarding and with the backdrop of the national park and a quaint little town.

Plus I’m going to catch up with shaper and Drifts wooden wander Tom Wegener – who resides here and has been kind enough to offer me a place to crash!

I’d checked the internet last night and there were already images coming through of 3 foot, perfectly peeling, hollow swell coming through and expected to last most of the week. I won’t lie – I just wanted to get there asap!

After arriving mid afternoon (a day earlier than planned, due to the weather) I headed to First Point (after the now routine fight for a parking space!) to catch up with Tom to shoot his finless exhibition on the beach. Strolling along the white sands and mid way through drooling over the peeling rights that were being carved apart by the surf competitors, I bumped into Toms apprentice Matt – who seemed rather puzzled to see me in his hometown!

Tom was equally surprised – although I had been conversing with Margie, his wife, due to how busy he obviously was pre festival.

But he soon utilised my camera equipment and rustled up his trusty crew of alaia riders for a team shot before they all hit the water for a demo heat, including a 14 foot traditional log!

Shooting from the rocks and watching the sets has made me fall in love with Noosa all over again.

It’s everything I expected – and then some.

The stoke that Tom showed during his shaping sessions back at Newquay was all to familiar over the tanoy during the finless demo. He has so much passion – its no wonder he’s managed to (excuse the pun) carve his way into the shaping scene.

Some people shape for money.

Some people shape for fun.

Tom obviously shapes because it what he loves.

The various shapes, styles and types of finless board in the water took full advantage of the perfect contains – sliding and spinning across perfect Noosa faces with Toms stoke rippling through the crowd.

After the heat came the festivals opening ceremony – something I was keen to witness.

First off was some traditional didging by a local ripper.

Then came the mixing of water.

A bowl was produced and in front of the crowd people poured in water from their local breaks. By the end of this the bowl contained water from all corners of Oz, Jersey, Japan, Brazil, Canada, the US and Chile.

This was truly an international event. I only wish I’d brought some of North Devons finest to add to the pot!

Next was the paddle out – everyone who had access to a board headed for the water and got into the lineup.

This was then followed by the traditional Hawaiian joining of hands and Ocean Prayer.

I opted to photograph it rather than participate, but it looked perfect in the setting evening sun.

As the surfers splashed water over their heads the festival was officially on.

….roll on the next few days :)