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Byron Shire
April 22, 2021

Wilkinson fighting hard in Rio

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Wilkinson having fun in Rio. Photo WSL/Poulenott
Wilkinson having fun in Rio. Photo WSL/Poulenott

Crystal Cylinders

After a couple of dud results in the last two Australian events Byron Bay’s Matt Wilkinson is on his way to a solid result at the Oi Rio Pro at Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Wilkinson seems at home in the tricky beach break conditions on offer and his quick-fire backhand snaps on the wobbly right-hand peaks are getting the attention of the judges.

He seems to be building his performances the further he moves forward in the competition.

A shock exit from ratings leader and current world champion John John Florence has opened the door for the top ten to make up some lost ground and tighten up the ratings leaderboard in what is looking like a unpredictable and eventful year on the WSL CT men’s tour.

Likewise on the women’s tour the early exit of Stephanie Gilmore, Courtney Conlouge and Carissa Moore, along with the powerful win by Tyler Wright here in Rio has rattled some competitor’s cages and is making for an exciting close race for the 2017 World Title.

Current champion Tyler Wright returned to the winner’s podium for the second straight year in Rio and her third event victory overall in Brazil.

Wright did so in dominant fashion, leading over runner-up Johanne Defay from the start and never looking back.

Wright’s big win takes her into a tie with Stephanie Gilmore atop the Jeep Leaderboard heading into the Tour’s next event; the Outerknown Fiji Women’s Pro.

Stu Kennedy from Lennox Head left the Oi Rio Pro with an equal 25th place after coming up against an on-fire Connor O’Leary in round two.

It was a clash of mates as   O’Leary and Kennedy travel together on the WSL Tour.

Junior results

Mikey McDonagh from Lennox Head has finished runner-up in the JQS Australasian Series after the final event of the WSL sanctioned Subway Surf Series Pro Junior was held on the Gold Coast two weeks ago.

It was held in 1-metre waves at Duranbah Beach, and McDonagh was again at the business end of the event with a quarter final finish.

Lennox Head’s Jack Murray and Byron Bay’s Joel Paxton had solid equal thirteenth-place finishes.

Kyuss King from Byron Bay was 17th and Luke Condon from Lennox Head was eliminated in round one.

The competition was the seventh event in the Australiawide series and some of the best junior surfers from around the world were greeted with excellent conditions for the entire contest.

Reef Heazlewood is the  Australasian JQS Champion with Mikey McDonagh in second spot, which secures him a berth representing Australia at the World Junior Championships.

Kyuss came 12th on the final ratings ladder, Jack Murray (Lennox Head) finished 14th, Joel Paxton (Byron Bay) was 20th and Luke Condon (Lennox Head) was 47th.

Mikey McDonagh finished second in the national junior series. Photo Bennett/WSL
Mikey McDonagh finished second in the national junior series. Photo Bennett/WSL

Lennox Head surfing history

In 2008 the Lennox National Surfing Reserve was declared a site of environmental, cultural and historical significance to the Australian surfing culture. To mark the 10th anniversary next year, the Lennox Head Heritage Committee and a team of local surfers and writers is seeking photos and recollections reflecting the local transition of surfing between 1958 and 2018.

Images and those fond, crazy memories will be collated into a publication.

No photos are too old or  new, and if you can contribute to this history of Lennox Head and adjoining surf breaks, please contact Robyn Hargrave on 0412 660 994.

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