The IBSA’s quest to form a global bodysurfing series, culminating in the Bodysurfing World Tour Finals, kicked with the Coolum Wedge Festival hosting the first ever BWT QS event on the first day of the three-day festival.
The Australian bodysurfing community reacted with tremendous excitement to the news, and 48 men and 15 women signed up for the QS event. These included competitors from New Zealand, California and Hawaii who couldn’t resist the temptation of three days of competition and good times with their kindred brothers and sisters.
Coolum itself is a natural magnet for body surfing waves. The continental shelf slopes off deeply out from Coolum, allowing swells to rear up quickly and break with more energy than other locales. Coolum is also blessed with permanent coffee-rock formations that protrude into the ocean like spines under the sand, so the banks are typically anchored to these formations which makes the rides long.
The morning of the IBSA contest broke with beautiful clear skies and crystal clean offshore conditions. Competition was fierce from the get-go but always carrying the good vibe and camaraderie in and out of the water that The Wedge is famous for.
The fields were eventually reduced to four finalists in each division. The from guide held true in the female division with Australia’s four highest ranked whompers all making the final. In a desperately close contest, Ally Zillman triumphed over Lily Kelly by the smallest possible margin – 0.1 points. Australia’s Big Wave queen Caitlin Callaghan finished in third place. Local favourite and previous Wedge women’s champion Lyla Crouch finished in fourth.
Ally Zillman, Cailtin Callahan and Lyla Crouch
After ferocious rounds of heats, quarters and semis in the men’s competition, the field was reduced to the four best watermen for the final. The standard was other-worldly, a successful front somersault was only good enough for third place. Local savant Jack Lewis swooped across the waves with impossible speed, on one wave emerging from a barrel section on his back, hands folded behind his head. Young gun Ky Kinsela amazed the crowd by riding dolphin-style behind the unbroken wave for 30 metres at a time before bursting through and starting his on-the-face tricks. Jack Lewis took out the win with Ky close behind and multi-contest winner Jack Macrae in third place.
Jack Lewis, Ky Kinsela, Paddy McNally and the Honourable Dan Purdie
Australia’s second IBSA tournament was held at the inaugural Festival of Froth at picturesque Avalon, Sydney. It again attracted a large field of rabid bodysurfers all keen to show their wares and compete for a chance to represent Australia. Conditions were perfect for competition with a good 1 metre swell and offshore conditions for the day and the standard of whomping reflected this.
The field was whittled down to four, with the Big two from The Wedge, Jack Lewis and Ky Kinsela, making the FOF final as well. However both were piped by Josh Kirkman who unleashed the highest scoring wave of the day to snatch the win. Ky was second with his flat spin just getting the edge of Jack’s two front somersaults.
After the completion of the Australian QS events, the IBSA is proud to announce the members of the Australian Team to compete in the Bodysurfing World Tour Finals:
The Australian Team will be called “The Aussie Ospreys”. These magnificent raptors are a predatory sea bird that frequent the Australian coastline. They are fiercely loyal to their loved ones and mate for life. Their speed through the ocean is legendary. Osprey are consummate watermen, they have a unique ability to adjust their dive angle into the ocean to account for the distortion of the fish's image caused by refraction of the water.