Mullumbimby’s Dave Winchester rode a beautiful wave to score 7.8 in the final of Cronulla’s Shark Island Challenge.
Mullumbimby’s Dave Winchester rode a beautiful wave to score 7.8 in the final of Cronulla’s Shark Island Challenge. Matt Dunbar

Win of his career

MULLUMBIMBY'S Dave Winchester won the Shark Island Challenge yesterday in near perfect but powerful two-metre surf at the notorious Shark Island reef off the point of Cronulla.

And the delighted Northern Rivers man rated it the biggest win of his career.

This prestigious specialty event sanctioned by the International Bodyboard Association only runs when Shark Island produces great waves and yesterday's international field enjoyed idyllic conditions as the 2m swell barrelled across the shallow outer reef.

Winchester started the final slowly and was virtually scoreless 10 minutes into the 40-minute final, allowing local Cronulla rider Andrew Lester to build a solid lead.

But his patience paid off when he found the biggest and best wave of the final, negotiating a long, barrelling section by foamballing his way through the tube to score a strong 7.8.

Shortly after, Winchester found another excellent barrel ride and opened a huge lead when he scored an excellent 8.03.

From that point his fellow competitors were unable challenge him.

Winchester won the final with a score from his top two rides of 15.83 to Lester's 13.5, with Hawaii's Mike Stewart third and North Sydney rider Ben Player fourth.

“It's the biggest win of my career for sure,” an elated Winchester said after the final.

“This event has a lot of history and to be added to the winner's list is special.

“The waves were exceptional, perfect barrels, and the final had a lot to do with picking off the best waves and scoring the deepest barrel rides. I waited for those waves and it was a winning strategy for sure.”

For popular Cronulla rider Lester it was his second second-placed finish in this event. A win continues to elude him.

Stewart did not find the right waves in the final but the nine-time Bodyboard World Champion enjoyed his day.

“It's a great bodyboard wave out here – seriously intense and ideal for the best riders to compete in,” Stewart said.

“I didn't have a great final but I scored plenty of great waves through the quarters and semis and it's been a really good day.”

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