Watch: The Electric Acid Surfboard Test at Burleigh Heads
Asher Pacey vs Josh Kerr at 3ft Burleigh, need we say more?
It’s not every day you get given free reign of a heritage wave like Burleigh.
But, thanks to Surfing Queensland, that’s exactly what happened a couple weeks past as part of the Gold Coast Open. We, Stab, were given the point for a whole two hours, and what to do with it was, relatively, up to us. The staff expression session idea was quickly poo-pooed, and instead our gaze turned to the rack of brightly-splattered, oddly-shaped crafts lining the walls of the Byron office.
The thinking was thus: our Electric Acid Surfboard Test has become an institution, the carefree cousin to the highly-strung SITD. “Alt” boards go particularly well on points, when the pilot’s got time and space to get their feet in the wax and feel what different shapes can do. There’s an abundance of talented surfers in the area, including some of the best single/twin/everything surfers in the world. Ditto in regard to shapers. It was imperative that The Electric Acid Surfboard Test went live.
We weren’t greeted with ruler-edge perfection filtering into Burleigh’s famous Cove, but it wasn’t “contestable” either, that dreaded word contest directors use when faced with running a surf contest in dribble. It was 2/3ft and fun, and whilst we would’ve ordered 6ft and pumping if it was on the menu (which the long range forecast suggested it might be for a moment), the conditions made for interesting viewing as our contestants made the most of the everyday conditions on their everyman equipment. It was top end relatable, which has always been a guiding light of the Acid Test.
We wrangled a hell of a cast — Asher Pacey, Mitch Crews, Lungi Slabb, Louie Hynd, Benny Howard, Josh Kerr, Harley Walters, Coby Perkovich — and slid some crafts from local shapers Ian Byrne, Dale Wilson (Byrning Spears), and Thomas Bexon into our already stacked EAST racks. After picking names out of a hat, the surfers chose whichever board they thought would best suit their surfing/the conditions, and out they went.
It was technically a competition, but this was as much to provide structure to the event as it was an attempt to crown a king of the point. However, Australians are competitive by design, and all our surfers (even career soul men like Mr, Pacey) spent their youths moving through the hallowed ranks of their local boardriders, Australian juniors and onto the QS. In short: once the airhorn sounded, despite souly intentions, it was on.
Asher Pacey was a clear favourite and arrived with a stack of fresh Albums under his arm. He was disappointed when we pointed out that he had to pick one off the rack, but soon confirmed our suspicions that he could ride literally anything. He provided us with a brief moment of schadenfreude when he took off with his leggie in between his toes, before flowing down the line with signature grace like nothing was wrong, progressing to the final in the process.
Mitch Crews and Josh Kerr joined Asher in the final, predictably, and then dark horse Harley Walters made it four (although if you’d studied his form on archival crafts then you’d know he was worth a flutter). Despite a little junk in the swell, faces were clean with plenty of push, and the standard of surfing in the final was razor-sharp. Asher and Kerrzy rode twinnies, down-the-line flow and in-the-pocket hacks being the order of the day. Harley was reading sections perfectly and going vert on his backhand at every opportunity, and Mitch Crews was blending elite performance surfing with the added flow provided by the channels on his Ian Byrne.
Judging was informal and guided by feel, and our guts were telling us that there was a bee’s dick between Asher and Crewsy when the hooter sounded. Stab man on the mic Danny Johnson was telling jokes and killing time whilst our panel of judges were were making their final call, and once ample time had passed, the infant daughter of the head judge was sent to Danny with a piece of paper in hand. Problem was, it had been used as a doodle pad for the afternoon — people testing pens, adding up heat totals etc — and was largely incomprehensible. The most legible name (although it had been scribbled over) was “Mitch”, so Danny declared Mr. Crews the winner.
Mitch is a popular member of the group and was standing next to Ian Byrne, the man who made the craft he’d been ripping on all afternoon, so the announcement was met with rapturous applause and beer spraying all around—by everyone apart from the judges, that is. Had Danny turned the piece of paper over, he would’ve seen the word “Asher” faintly inked on the underside of the page. When contacted for comment, Johnson said, “It happens at the Academy Awards”, and, “I don’t see how I can be held accountable,” before pointing out what a pure Gold Coast surfing moment the hiccup had facilitated.
Click here to learn about some fantastic events going on in Queensland in the coming months.
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