The Yorkes Classic is South Australia's most prestigious and iconic surfing event. Originally started way back in 1983 by local surfers, the event aims to deliver great surf in the spectacular surf region of the southern Yorke Peninsula.
This year, local surf clubs Yorkes Junior Surf Club and Bootleg Boardriders came together to take the reins, build on the history of the event, and take it into its 35th year. After discussion with local businesses it was decided to move the event from the October long weekend to late May, drawing visitors to the region in a traditionally quieter time of the year. This was a successful move with more than a dozen Yorke Peninsula businesses coming on board to provide the financial support required to get the event off the ground.
Local organisers reached out to the wider South Australian surf community to find division sponsors. The addition of Women and Open (mixed) Juniors divisions to the event broadened the competitions appeal. The Ding King, Extreme Boardriders, and Marion Bay based business Shaping the Bay provided the necessary support, and the event was underpinned with the generous support of Yorke Peninsula Council.
Working closely with Surfing South Australia it was decided that this years South Australian Men's and Women's winners would also be crowned South Australian State Title holders, opening the gateway for competitors to compete nationally - a first for a Yorke Peninsula surfing event.
May is renowned for solid surf across the bottom end, and this year's event was no exception with Saturday mornings' squally conditions revealing 4-6 foot sets under rainbow skies. 48 entries from the state's best surfers across the three divisions set the scene for a spectacular day of surfing in challenging and testing conditions.
Digby Tooze of Corny Point showed early promise in the Ding King Open Men's, knocking out surfers with twice the experience as he pushed through to the quarter-finals. Luke Sykora (Marion Bay) was another notable performer surfing with flair through to the semi-finals but unfortunately for the local crowd both were eliminated before the final.
The Men's final was a showdown between arguably four of the best surfers in the state. Favourite Max Longhurst (Pt. Elliot) started quietly falling on a difficult drop, and then moving to wait out the back for the bomb sets that were coming through. Meanwhile Alex Rix (Waitpinga), Brett Edwards (Stonyfell) and Khai Adams (Seacliff Park) went toe to toe building scores through the first half of the heat, with Rix eventually managing to take a clear lead.
Then Longhurst came alive as the bomb he was waiting for came his way, tearing it apart with repeated massive power hacks in a display of world class surfing, dropping a big score in the mid 9's and leaping to second place. Needing only a medium score to take the heat, Max hammered the nail home in the closing minutes comfortably taking the win.
The Women's final was a hard fought battle between past junior and women's state title winners Grace Knight (Kadina) and Dimity Payne (Pt Elliot), local favourite Aurora Furbank (Formby Bay), and the youngest entrant in the competition Meg Day of (Moonta). The lead seesawed back and forth under some of the heaviest conditions of the day with all four finalists taking a heavy beating from big closeout sets. Furbank showed her local knowledge to take an early lead with a solid drop and carve, but was overtaken by Knight whose comp experience showed as she built a score on smaller waves. Day almost derailed the plans of the heat leaders at the midway mark, finding a beautiful section and pulling a clean end turn over the shallow inside reef. As the clocked ticked down with only minutes to spare, Furbank paddled herself into the impact zone and picked off a solid wave giving her the score she needed to overtake Knight. The local crowd loved it with hoots and whistles erupting from the boardwalk as the siren sounded ending the heat.
Some of the states best young men and women battled it out for the Juniors trophy. The first round saw a couple of surprise early eliminations but the nine person draw allowed the majority of surfers to progress to the semi-finals. Digby Tooze and Ruka Taite (Seaford) knocked out Aurora Furbank, and Harry Green (Seaford) and CoreyTaylor (Marion Bay) ended Ed Tooze's (Corny Point) run, setting the scene for a local versus midcoast final showdown. Tooze appeared tired after surfing in more heats than any other competitor for the day, and just couldn't find his rhythm against an in-form Taite and Green who went head to head on consecutive 4-5 footers with nothing between them. Taylor couldn't find the flow he has displayed in recent events and the final minutes of battle was between the two midcoast boys. Ruka Taite emerged with a narrow victory over Harry Green, leaving Digby Tooze and Corey Taylor in 3rd and 4th.
The 2019 Yorkes Classic continued the tradition of presenting the Christine Cox 'Spirit of Yorkes' award. This award recognises those who give wholeheartedly to the Yorkes Surfing community and this year the unanimously voted recipients were Paul and Lynda Sykora of Marion Bay for many year of service.
The Bootleg Boardriders lost a founding member last year and this year saw the introduction of a memorial trophy in his honour - the Shaun Grey 'Charger' award, awarded to the best charger. Luke Sykora (Marion Bay) deservedly receiving the award from Marc 'Sully' Sullivan and the BBR boys for his fearless approach in all conditions
'The Ding King' Open Men:
1st Max Longhurst, Pt Elliot,
2nd Alex Rix, Waitpinga,
3rd Brett Edwards, Stony Fell
4th Khai Adams, Seacliff Park
'Extreme Boardriders' Open Women:
1st Aurora Furbank, Formby Bay
2nd Grace Knight, Kadina
3rd Meg Day, Moonta
4th Dimity Payne, Pt Elliot
'Shaping the Bay' Open Juniors:
1st Ruka Taite, Seaford
2nd Harry Green, Port Noarlunga South
3rd Digby Tooze, Corny Point
4th Corey Taylor, Marion Bay
Christine Cox "Spirit of Yorkes' Award:
Paul and Lynda Sykora
Shaun Grey 'Charger' Memorial Trophy: