Main: Multiple world and Australian Wave Ski Champion and former Grafton resident Rees Duncan, competed in last week’s Australian Wave Ski Open, which was held at Turners Beach, Yamba. Image: Lynne Mowbray
Below: Competitors (l-r) Terry Oehm (Sydney) and Dave Howard (Crescent Head). Terry has been competing for 20 years and Dave for eight years. Image: Lynne Mowbray
Die hard wave ski enthusiasts from around Australia and New Zealand came together last week at Turners Beach at Yamba, for the 2017 Australian Wave Ski Open.
The week-long event began on Monday, with around 50 competitors taking to the water.
Rees Duncan who currently holds both the World Masters and Australian Masters and Open wave ski titles, attended last week’s event.
Rees, formerly of Grafton and who now resides on the Gold Coast, started wave ski surfing at the age of 11.
Rees said that he was introduced to the sport by his father Rees Duncan Snr and family friend Steve Bailey.
“My father and Steve Bailey (who are both attending this event) were both founding members of the Clarence Valley Wave Ski Club,” Rees said.
“I used to hop on my dad’s board when he’d finished in the surf.
“I’ve been competing now for 30 odd years.
“One of the first times, they were having a competition and they just put me on a board on the shore break and scored me at the same time, so I’ve been pretty well competing, from day one,” he said.
In 1989, at the age of 16, Rees won his first world title in England and has so far notched up a total of nine world titles. He has also won around 22 Australian titles (including age division and open).
“The world titles are held every two years and we had the World Cup here at Turners, in Yamba in 1988 and I got second in that one.
“That was the last time we had a competition here.
“We’ve got the next World titles in Spain next year, so I’m going to try and win another open title; that’s my goal.”
Conditions during last week’s event were less than favourable, as competitors were challenged, with only small waves on offer.
“We had good waves on Monday and it’s just dropped since then,” said Rees.
“You hope to get a couple of good days in, but you just have to run it [the event].”
Rees said that the best part of these competitions is the social side.
“Everyone’s like a big family so it’s like a big reunion,” Rees said.
“The age of the competitors range from around 20 to 70; we have two competitors here, who are over 70.”
“We’re competitive, but after every final everyone claps and encourages each other.
“A lot of people can’t believe the good camaraderie we’ve got, compared to a lot of other sporting groups.
“We’re here for the fun and we all help each other out and it’s very social.
“There are 50 odd competitors and with all their families I guess around 100 people here for the week.
“Every night we go to a different restaurant as a whole group; sharing the love around town and spending the money.
“Everyone’s loved Yamba, and there’s quite a good chance that the Aussie titles will be back her again, next year.