Monday, July 31, 2006

"HARD BALLS" Wins Shark Island Challenge

As taken from BILLABONG.COM:

Western Australian Ryan "Hard Balls" Hardy pulled off one of the most dramatic wins in the history of the CSIC. An incredible day of bodyboarding went down to the wire with Hardy taking out the first prize cheque of $20,000 in the 10th annual Human Cronulla Shark Island Challenge held in near perfect 6 - 8ft waves. Hardy was on fire all day and was a well-deserved winner.
The last day was held in unbelievable 4 - 8 ft conditions. One of the best days ever seen for the CSIC. Riders and officials were put on hold until the last minute by contest organiser Mark Fordham until conditions became more that favorable.

Conditions before the first heat we cross shore and raining though as the tide started to rise the winds eased and turned a light offshore, the waves went from 3 - 4 feet to a solid 6 - 8ft for the semis and final. The wind come up slightly for the final thanks to a heavy rain squall and with fading sunlight the riders faced every challenge imaginable. As the sets peaked a 8ft those in the final who thought they were safe with just big tubes were totally mistaken, it was Hardy who was pushing it that one step higher, busting some of the biggest inverts ever seen out there.
With the 25min final starting at 5pm the finalist knew they had to pick and choose their waves wisely. Waves were pumping in, set after set. With the sun already setting in the west and the city traffic busy shuffling home... The Island turned it on for the Biggest Final in Years... Ryan Hardy, Jeff Hubbard, Damian King & John Showell... without dispute... this was one of the hardest finals anybody would dream of being in.

Within seconds of the hooter, Cronulla local John Showell took to a massive bomb... stamping his local authority all over it... Hardy then answered, followed by Hubbard then Kingy... this was one of the closest contests we've ever witnessed.
The final belonged to the Western Australian, huge tube time and massive air time, a devastating display of pure hardcore surfing at its best.
Right from round one Hardy was showing the form that has seen him win two Australian tour events and is now in serious contention for his first IBA Men's World Tour title this year.
After the presentation Hardy was lost for words and over run by emotion.
"I can not believe I have actually won this event" screamed an elated Hardy. "Winning this event is everything, I have tried over the years but I have just never been in a good position. Today the waves were just pumping and I just went for it so yeah, super stoked."
After being lifted to shoulders of King and Hubbard and doused with the finest bottle of Champagne Hardy expressed how he as a younger grommet was inspired by the Cronulla bodyboarders when starting out..
"I would like to say one thing and that is a special thanks to the Cronulla locals especially the original crew Fordy, Nugget, Percy, Wingnut, Rissole, Brett and Doug just to mention a few. You guys not only inspired me but a whole generation. If it was not for all of you we wouldn't have an event like the Challenge."

Runner-up, Cronulla young gun John Showell had his best win out at his home break to date and looks set to challenge Hardy for the title.

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