Wavesailing stunts thrill at Ballina State of Origin comp
IS it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Ballina's Paul Bellamy.
The NSW Wavesailing Association is hosting State of Origin expression sessions at Flat Rock Beach, near Ballina.
The event started on Friday and will conclude today.
Bellamy was one of about 30 competitors soaring through the sky in an attempt to eclipse the rankings of fellow enthusiasts.
Featuring tricky manoeuvres such as forward loops, backward loops, push loops and even the dangerous double forward, the event drew considerable attention from Ballina residents.
Association president George Westra said conditions had varied, but the sublime skills of his members ensured a spectacle.
"There's been some really, really good wavesailing," he said.
"The skill level is very high.
"The wind could've been better some days, but people are still getting into it.
"It's been getting heaps of interest - we've had lots of people coming along to take photos."
Westra said the appeal of wavesailing was in its similarity to surfing.
"A lot of the guys here surf, do stand-up (paddle- board) and wavesail.
"When the wind picks up but the surf's not great, it'sa good option," he said.
Many competitors travelled from south of Sydney and the Gold Coast because "Ballina's renowned as one of the better spots (for wavesailing) on the east coast", according to Westra.
He said the Far North Coast community had warmly welcomed the association and all competitors.
Bellamy, 50, has been surfing for about 40 years and took up wavesailing to keep the good times rolling in adverse surf conditions.
"This time of year you tend to get lots of wind but no real good surf," he said.
"Wavesailing is more productive per session."
Bellamy was enjoying a cheeky home-town advantage yesterday.
"I'm just out here having a bit of fun, seeing if it all comes together," he said.
"It's a bloody good day - could have been a little windier, though."
Bellamy, who enjoyed the friendly, all-in competition of the session, joined the association earlier this year and said he'd met "a great bunch of guys".
Wavesailing is a crossover between surfing and windsurfing in which competitors are judged on wave riding and wave jumping.