Standing on the shore of Merimbula beach, three-time world champion kitesurfer James Storm Carew gazed out towards the kite canopies twisting in the sea breeze, as competitors from across Australia prepared for the four-day 41st Raging Bull Surf Merimbula Classic.
"It's started off a bit slow, but it's coming, this afternoon we'll have some good winds and everybody will be out there," Carew said.
Though the 24-year-old champion could not compete, having snapped his leg and ACL during the Big Air Kite World Championships in Tarifa, Spain, he said the injury happened at a good time because the fire to win within him had returned.
On Thursday, November 23, more than 200 people, from 'Juniors' in the under-18 age group to the 'Legends' in 60+, signed up for the Raging Bull Surf Merimbula competition whose theme for 2023 was "Rock'n in the Jungle".
Those competing said the event, a celebration of wind and waves, with wave sailing, kite surfing, wing and foil surfing, and SUP surfing was one of the best competitions around of its kind.
The coordinator for the event, John Smythe said the Classic began after a bunch of Merimbula surfers got into windsurfing, and there were about four of the original members who helped to start the event in 1981, still around.
"I was windsurfing and paddleboarding, but I'm not competing, I still paddle around to keep fit, it's just fabulous, all watersports are good for you," Mr Smythe said with a smile, and shared how he thought the competition was still growing after 41 years with sponsors and riders.
One of the 'Legends' competitors, wearing an original Merimbula Wavesailing Classic 1990s Mambo shirt, Rob "Kite Boy" Pingnolet was excited to get out in the waves to kitesurf.
"We're all family, you know, I come every year, we just catch up with each other once a year, and my kids were 10 when they started coming, and so they still come now and they're in their 30s," the 65-year-old said.
The event runs from Thursday, November 23 to Sunday, November 26 at Merimbula beach, and the public is welcome to head along and watch.
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