Mitch Rawlins wins OPENLIVE Shark Island Challenge
The final day of the OpenLIVE Shark Island Challenge was set to be an absolute cracker with the previous days action seeing some of the heaviest waves ridden since 2001.
The swell was still solid in the 6-8 foot range with the occasional bigger one, with a light offshore breeze keeping it clean.
With the best 3 wave scores counted to get a place in the 5 man final, Shaun Pyne led the way with his 10 point ride from yesterday with Mitch Rawlins, Lachlan Cramsie, Shaun Petersen and Jase Finlay rounding out the top 5. Michael Novy, Jack Baker and Ben Player were also in the hunt.
Heat one hit the water at 8:30 with local legends Christian “Rissole” Riguccini and Nathan “Nugget” Purcell taking on 2001 winner Damian King and 2013 winner Josh “Blackie” Kaihe.
Blackie got an early one to post a 6.33 to go with a 1.83 and Kingy (3.73 + 3.5) charged on the biggest wave of the heat but came unstuck.
Nugget attempted an old school ‘Gorf’ and snuck through one to post a 5 but ultimately it wasn’t enough to see any of the riders push into the top 5 final positions.
Heat two was absolutely stacked and going to shape the finals with R1 leader Shaun Pyne taking on fellow top 5 riders Shaun Petersen and Lachlan Cramsie with Michael Novy and local Ben Hall making up the heat and also in contention for a finals spot.
Shaun Petersen set the standard early with a huge flip that locked in a 7.17 with Lachlan Cramsie replying with a strong roll to score 7.33.
Shaun Pyne then hit back with two huge scores of 9.17 to cement a spot in the final. Lachlan cramsie then backed up his opening wave with another pit to roll scoring a 7.5.
With 2 minutes to go an incredible set came through and Michael Novy, who had struggled all morning, finally locked into a bomb and grabbed a 8.5 and Shaun Petersen followed that on the next wave of the set to better his first score and put down an 8.07. Ben Hall wrestled through a medium size one to grab a 6 but couldn’t find a backup wave.
Heat 3 saw Mitch Rawlins and Ben Player fighting it out agains Kane Baker, George Humphreys and Nick Ormerod.
George Humphreys locked in a 5.67 early with Mitch Rawlins getting a massive one and flying out the end section to lock in a 9.23.
The waves continued to pump throughout the heat with Mitch locking in an 8.4 to back the 9.23, Ben Player getting on the board with a 7.67 and a 5.4, George Humphreys grabbed 6.4 and 5.73 while Nick Ormerod locked in a 6.5 as local Kane Baker snared a 5.67.
Heat 4 saw Jase Finlay lock into an early one to grab a 6.5 following it up with 7 point ride to push his case for a finals spot, while Reece Fowler took of on one way to deep to get absolutely smashed and dragged across the reef. Luckily he wasn’t hurt and continued to charge even attempting a massive invert a few minutes later.
Alex Leon picked up an epic pit for a 7.67 to go along with a 5.5 while Jack Baker was looking to consolidate a finals spot with a 4.17. Local Ben Williams picked up a nice deep pit to get a 8.07.
Heat 5 was all set up for crowd favourites Garth McGregor and Winston McCall to take on Toby Player, Sam Strachan and Luke O’Connor for the highly coveted final spot.
The heat started slow, but things soon picked up with Garth grabbing a massive pit to score an 8.83, but unfortunately he couldn’t find the second score to push him into the final spot.
Toby Player found a couple of late ones to post a 6.17 to go with a 5.33 while Luke O’Connor surfed consistently to post a 4.73 and 3.9, Winston McCall and found a small one in the 3.5 point range while Sam Strachan had a heat to forget, waiting patiently to catch his first wave with one second to go and then getting thrown hard going over the with lip.
The best three scores were tallied up at the end of Round 2 and the final sports were sorted.
Shaun Pyne, Shaun Petersen, Mitch Rawlins, Lachlan Cramsie and Jase Finlay were the five men to duke it out in tricky conditions with the tide dropping out but still holding at around 4-6 feet with the odd bigger one and the in-form riders over the two days didn’t disappoint.
The best two waves, 40 minute final kicked off with Shaun Pyne taking of on a smaller on to get his final underway with a nice roll to post a 5.67. Mitch Rawlins then pushed through a bigger one and popped out the top but was deemed incomplete and only got a 3.
Shaun Petersen opened his account with a nice foamball ride on a larger one that scored a 6.67.
There was a bit of a lull before a solid set came through which saw Jase Finlay open his account with the best wave of the Final so far, getting himself a 7.33, while Lachlan Cramsie was on the foamier one behind and grabbed a 3.07.
Shaun Pyne then picked of a bigger outside one and raced out in front to post a nice barrel to forward spin of the lip to get a 5.9 giving him the lead with 14 minutes to go.
Mitch Rawlins was playing the waiting game and it was a smart move, finding himself a clean, wide pit to lock down a 7.1.
Then there was a huge exchange between Jase Finlay and Shaun Pyne that scored them at 6.23 and 7.57 respectively, giving Jase a slight lead but there was still 5 minutes left and waves on the horizon.
Everyone held their breath and With just under a minute to go Mitch Rawlins who had been waiting patiently all final took off an a massive wide one and surfed it perfectly to score himself a 7.67 and jump into the lead.
With no waves behind it, Finlay, Pyne, Petersen and Cramsie knew it was over.
Congratulations Mitch Rawlins, The 2016 APB Tour Shark Island Challenge Champion!
Words: Micheal Saunders Riptide Magazine