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The Taranaki Wave Classic of 2012 was the 29th running of this glorious event and competitors came from all over New Zealand, as well as some super-keen sailors from Australia and New Caledonia who made the trip over here especially for the occasion.

Early spring in Taranaki had seen good wavesailing conditions in the leadup to the TWC and ‘warm-up week’ provided some fun action at all our favourite WSW spots such as Waitara and Weld Rd. This culminated in both Thursday and Friday delivering a solid 25-30 knots and swell ranging from head to logo high – the perfect practice session for the weekend. Waitara carpark was full with locals and tourists all pulling out their 4.0 metre (and smaller if they had them) sails and high-wind boards. At times the wind was too much and sailors were forced to take a hiatus, waiting for the gales to back off a little into the late afternoons.

Briefing on Saturday saw all the competitors directed to head for Waitara, and although the forecast was pretty mediocre the first arrivals at the beach discovered there were still waves left over from the Friday and just enough westerly breeze clipping through to allow them to be caught. The TWC was on! Sailors with the biggest boards (and lightest bellies perhaps!) were able to make the best of the conditions and as the tide came in and the wind dropped a touch the rarely sailed ‘Waitara Pipe’ shorebreak came into play; this allowed competitors to style it up in easy view of the crowd and less than 20 metres from the edge of the sand.

The light conditions saw a few Taranaki specialists out there picking off fun rides in the lightest of breeze, with Chris La Franchie, Olivier Perkins, Paul Barron and Ferran ‘El Torito’ Crespo showing some local style, while Yoan Despujols from New Caledonia and Thomas Davies from Auckland were keeping pace upwind in the break and putting in a great out-of-town challenge. Yoan especially brought some amazing flair to the day, pulling out an amazing array of flashy freestyley clew first, back-winded, super-spinney, wack-tack-diddy-dack moves on the wave faces and flatwater. Something to aim for, for those with pliable ankles I say! Meanwhile, inshore it was Ferran who delighted the local crowd by pulling out a great no-wind goiter attempt in the shorebreak; only missing completing it by the tiniest fraction. He followed this up by grabbing a bodyboard and rocked into surfing the small shore-dumpers as the crowd cheered him on.

By 3 pm the BBQ was fired up, new seasons’ sails were being drooled over and various boards etc. were compared for size. Ahem! Typical TWC stuff really! The vibe on the beach was that of a chilled happy crew who had all had some fun on the water by this point. By 4:30 pm the wind had swung more onshore and increased a little, tempting a dozen sailors out for an evening free sailing session and so ended the first day’s competition.

Sunday dawned gloomy and grey in town. Blah! The call was made to head for Kina Rd in the faint hope that the forecast light north-west wind would swing around a little and lift enough for some action. The dismal conditions in town hadn’t yet reached around to Kina Rd and the enthusiastic TWC travelling circus was there in full swing – great to see! Teasing spray off the junky two-metre wave faces meant that around 2 pm Paul Barron and Thomas Davies led the charge of six or so hardy souls into Kina Rd’s north break to test it out. However the conditions were just that – teasing – Paul Barron was the only one to make it up to the break, where it was near impossible to get enough drive to catch the waves. Kudos to those who tried – it was a super solid effort. At this point the rain decided to appear, but in honour of the valiant attempts to get some wave action the TWC BBQ was cranked into action and the beers handed out. Good fun all round!

Competitors reconvened at the Oakura Boardriders Club at around 7 pm, and were treated to a fantastic meal served up by Laurent and the Lahar Team. The cozy space made for a great party atmosphere and anticipation was high as the prizegiving began. There were some great spot prizes this year, including a Maui Sails sail from Board Store (won by Stephen Westwood), a Vandal sail from AND distribution (won by Laurence Young), vouchers for local Oakura Camp Ground, Watercooled sports vouchers, funky coathangers that dry the inside of your wetsuit, surfboard,K4 Fins and camera mounts from Board zone. Seconds after musing that he never ever won any lucky prizes Spanish import El Torito saw his name pulled out for the Seventh Wave custom made wetsuit, and this was followed up by a very happy Jason Hall winning the Carbon Art waveboard of his choice. He was so happy in fact that he grabbed James Dinnis for a quick dance around the room, much to everyone’s amusement. This kicked the party off in great style and well prepared party animals proceeded to rock up the big stuff into the morning.

A light cross-onshore westerly breeze and some fun looking waves were on offer on Monday morning so, hangovers not withstanding, the Waitara carpark was busy once again. The TWC visitors were happy to get a good session in and make the drive home with smiles on their faces, looking forward to the next Taranaki session.

Thanks everyone for making the trip to the Naki and we hope to see you next year for the Taranaki Wave Classic’s 30th anniversary. It’s gonna be a celebration!

Results for Taranaki Wave Classic 2012

Open Men
1st Ferran Crespo
2nd Yoan Despujols
3rd Chris La Franchie
Woman
Katrin Dau

Youth
Jack Holiday