The worlds longest running kneeboard contest, the Neil Luke Kneeboard Classic (Formerly known as the Phillip Island Kneeboard pro) was run last weekend (18-19 March) for the 38th consecutive year.
Held on Phillip Island annually since 1985, the contest has been renamed to honour local legend Neil Luke, the pioneer of the contest and one of the great characters of the sport.
The contest got under way in classic conditions at Woolamai after a welcome to country by local indigenous elder Steve Parker who performed a beautiful smoking ceremony for all competitors. It was decided to run the Open division through the day and we got underway with the promise of some great surfing ahead.
Early heats were greeted with clean offshore conditions and a solid 3-4 foot swell combined with the high tide to make for some excellent waves to be ridden.
Early standouts were Number 1 seed and reigning champion Chayne Simpson, NSW entrants Karl Ward and Albert Munoz and the local boys Andy Whitehead and Dean Bould.
As we advanced to the Quarter finals, things got tight with some very close heats in deteriorating conditions. Some big names went down in the quarters including Stan Koeford, Pete Fairweather, and Jimmy Pom Anderson as surfers struggled to find clean, open faces to complete turns.
Into the Semis and Final and the tide dropped right out creating a strong rip and challenging conditions, There was some excellent surfing going on considering the conditions, including 3 time world Kneeboard Champion Simon Farrer who was doing some brilliant on rail carves, defying the tricky waves on offer.
The final was very close between 1st and 2nd , Dean Bould has now been runner up 4 times ( and in the final maybe 10 times over the years ) and it was to be again , with the difference being only .5 between him and Chayne Simpson – A very worthy back to back winner. Special mention to Liam Taurins who made the Open Final for the first time – great effort Liam you were ripping all weekend, and Owen Fairweather, the young gun from the Mornington Peninsula who made the Semis and went further than his dad Pete!
Onto Sunday now and the A and B grade were run in difficult conditions, but the boys made the most of it and put on a good show with some great surfing and big turs going down.
Standouts were Ryan Gallagher laying down a couple of big moves out the back to claim the A Grade title and Josh Devall some big moves from this young gun, definitely one to watch for the future, he rips!
The highlight of the Presentation hosted by Sambreros Mexican was the drawing of the raffle for the beautifully handcrafted kneeboard by Neil Luke with some magnificent artwork from Mark Mono Stewart, it was won by Johnny “Reef Rat “ Cullen. Congratulations Reefy – straight to the pool room with that one!
Big thanks to the Major Sponsors – Island Surfboards, Sambreros Tex Mex in Cowes, and Bendigo Bank and also Kneeboard Surfing Victoria with Jimmy Brown and Rod Paarlberg, Paul O’Neill and the ever present Rosey organizing the event as its not a small challenge.
And to all the competitors, thanks for all your support, great vibes, laughs and great comradery. The surfing was insane. NEIL LUKE KNEEBOARD CLASSIC 2023
1ST Chayne Simpson , 2nd Dean Bould , 3rd Liam Taurins , 4th Simon Farrer
1ST Ryan Gallagher , 2nd Turtle Mannix , 3rd , F. Adnam , 4th Bruce Sherlock
1st Josh Devall , 2nd Pete Gorton , 3rd D. Milsevic , 4th P Wright