Brothers in surf and sounds, Ash Grunwald and event winner Dave Rastovich spent the morning on the waves and the afternoon entertaining the crowds with some tunes at Saturday’s Single Fin opener. Photos Tree Faerie.
Dave ‘Rasta’ Rastovich has won the open division of the 16th annual Billabong Burleigh Single Fin Festival, trumping an incredible field of 96 surfers that included the who’s who of Gold Coast surfing talent.
Stars like former ASP world champion Mark Occhilupo, world number two Luke Egan, reigning world junior Champion Jack Freestone, junior standout Thomas Woods, Wade Goodall and West Australian ripper Creed McTaggert lined up alongside local legends and Burleigh Boardriders champions – all surfing pre-1985-made single-fin boards in classic Burleigh conditions.
Surfers traded barrels throughout the unique two-day event, thanks to a pulsing east swell generated from a pressure system situated in the Coral Sea. Wave after wave turned inside-out over the ruler-edge sandbank running the length of the famous point and hundreds of spectators took up position under the pandanus palms and enjoyed two free, live sets by famed Aussie blues musician, Ash Grunwald.
There were plenty of perfect 10-point rides handed out by the judges with Soli Bailey (Byron Bay), Jack Lewis and Jack Freestone among those locking in perfect scores. But it was grommet Noah Deane who stole the show, registering a perfect heat – 20 out of 20 – thanks to two tens in his quarter-final showing.
The Open final was decided by less than a point, with Rastovich just edging out Freestone, who finished second ahead of Noah Deane, Noah Lane, Woods and Anthony Pols.
Rastovich received his first-place prize, a coveted gleaming, hand-shaped single fin made by master craftsman, Dick Van Straalan.
‘It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to come down and pull out these old relics and have a lot of fun on the point’, said Rastovich, before giving a nod to the next generation. ‘I want to thank Dirk for shaping the incredible board. He’s like a second dad to me and one of the legends of the culture. Looking at the board, wow, what an absolute gem!’
Rasta grew up in the area and moved away about ten or 12 years ago. ‘I really miss the headland and the community,’ he said. ‘To come back and see the amount of grommets here – that semifinal and final display from the groms was amazing. It’s so great and it’s important to have events like this and to keep inspiring them to do what they’re doing.’
Fittingly, the Burleigh Single Fin festival culminated on the same day the break was officially recognised by the organisation, National Surfing Reserve (NSR).
‘You travel around the world and see that there is only one Burleigh and this is a place to protect. Everyone here is doing a great job and has the responsibility to continue to help preserve and protect the area’, said Rastovich.
An incredible collection of vintage single-fin surfboards were on display across the weekend; sourced from the Gold Coast’s Surf World museum and various private collections. Contestants either rode their own boards, or shared their equipment with others.
Former world number two and Newcastle transplant, Luke Egan, rode a board his dad, Sam, shaped in 1978. Egan discovered the board and bought it at auction 15 years ago.
Billabong’s Shannon North took to the waves on a very special model – the actual craft that pioneering Gold Coast surfer Joe Engel rode in the seminal film Storm Riders, which was released in 1982 and featured Engel surfing a new discovery – the perfect right-hand break of Nias, located in North Sumatra.
Another popular model was a six-channel model shaped by legendary Novocastrian, Col Smith, for his son Rique.
In all, dozens of boards lay strewn on the grass for people to pick up and check out – a tactile representation of surfing’s design evolution and the pioneers who rode them.
‘Because of the boards and the way they perform, it forces everyone to slow down and focus more on the wave’, said Rasta. ‘It becomes less about high-performance, technical surfing. And it’s so great to see some of the young kids riding these boards; there’re junior surfers riding equipment that is three times their own age.’
It’s the 16th year the event has run, and it maintains a vibe and authenticity like no other. ‘People come up and say, this event is big enough to have grandstands and I go, “Nup, we want to keep it retro, old-school”; we don’t want that crap, we want to keep it like it is,’ said Burleigh Boardriders president Edward Lindores. ‘Everyone enjoying themselves, looking over each other’s shoulders, cruising on the grass. That’s why it’s such a good event. People get close, they talk, they hang out – friends, family – we don’t want infrastructure. We do it for the community of Burleigh – brothers, sisters, friends, mums, dads, grommets, cats, dogs, that’s what we want.’
FINAL RESULTS – 16th Annual Billabong Burleigh Single Fin Festival
1st Dave Rastovich (wins brand-new, hand-shaped Dick Van Straalan single fin)
2nd Jack Freestone
3rd Noah Deane
4th Noah Lane
5th Thomas Woods
6th Anthony Pols
1st Luke Hynd
2nd Luke Gyory
3rd Lachlan Garland
4th Maddy Job
5th Liam O’Brien
6th Taj Prasad
Best Barrel – Noah Deane
Spirit of The Single Fin Festival – Matty Job