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The 2024 Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles presented by Rip Curl commenced today at the iconic Djarrak / Bells Beach, showcasing the exceptional talent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander surfers from across the country. The day started with an amazing opening ceremony and Welcome to Country, drawing a strong turnout of spectators and competitors, all coming together to enjoy surfing heats and cultural celebrations.

The first division in the water was the Men’s Longboard, with the Smales brothers taking first place in both heats. Landen Smales (Noosa) was consistent in Heat 1, maximizing the traditional part of the criteria and scoring two mid-range 6 point rides on his first two waves. His brother, Kaiden Smales (Noosa), went one better in his heat, completing a critical nose ride to slashing carve combination to score a 7.67 point ride. Kaiden was then able to back this wave up just before the final hooter to take the heat and secure a spot in the semi-finals.

In the shortboard division, the Master’s Men put on an excellent display, showing their experience in the lineup. Last year’s champion, Lee Winkler (Coffs Harbour), continued his form from the previous year, banking multiple excellent rides. Winkler’s smooth and fast style paired well with the long walls of the Bell’s bowl as he carved his way to an 8.33-point ride. Improving on this score, Winkler put his power turns on display, slashing the face of his next wave and receiving a 9.00 point ride.

Winkler looked to be the one to beat going into the quarterfinals. However, he will face strong competition from John Craig (Newcastle), whose quick and critical approach impressed the judges. Craig moved to Rincon up the point and picked up a long-running right-hander, teeing off on multiple forehand re-entries. This gave Craig a 6.17 point ride, but he wasn’t stopping there. After making his way back to the peak, Craig picked up a larger set wave and put together an incredible combination of critical snaps and strong carves to score a 9.33 point ride, giving him a solid 15.50 point combined heat total. This incredible performance earned Craig the Surf Better Now’s Wave of the Day.

“I was just trying not to fall off on the wave; I still fell off actually,” laughed Craig.

“It’s not like a normal contest where it’s cutthroat, everyone is just cheering for each other,” he added.

“It’s awesome down here. I’ve got all my family with me, and for some of them it’s their first time here, so we are loving it.”

As the day progressed and the swell filled in, the Open Women hit the water with excitement to surf the epic waves on offer. Summer Simon (Coolangatta) was first up, attacking the Bell’s bowl with speed and strength. Her second wave saw her pick up on her winning form from last year’s competition, completing a range of manoeuvers all the way to the shore for a 7.17 point ride.

Seeing where the standard was set, Ocea Curtis (Lennox Head) knew exactly what surfing she had to display to achieve high scores. Her first wave showed positive signs as Curtis flew down the line and squared up on a couple of turns. As she gained her rhythm with the ocean, she took off on a large set wave and eyed off a critical section, not holding back on a huge forehand re-entry. With all the work done out the back, Curtis tagged a few more turns to score an impressive 9.00 point ride. Even though she had a stranglehold on the heat already, she paddled back out and caught another solid wave to tee off on a few critical maneuvers, receiving a 6.77 point ride and securing a spot in the semi-finals.

“I tried to catch one quick wave because it was really cold out there and you start freezing up. I then got lucky and got a pretty good one,” said Curtis. 

“Bells is such a good wave and I’ve only really surfed it when it’s been good,” Curtis continued. 

“It’s just an honor to be able to compete in the Indigenous Titles because the vibe is better than other competitions with everyone being so friendly!”

The event will continue over the weekend with various divisions competing, including Womens, Juniors, and Longboard.

Saturday morning’s call will be a 7:00 am check in for a 7.30 am start at Djarrak / Bells Beach. 
Live scores and schedule can be found via  
The Australian Indigenous Surfing Titles is presented by Rip Curl and Headsox and supported by the Victorian Government, Surf Coast Events, VicHealth, Surfing Australia, Play it Safe by the Water, Waddawurrung Traditional Owners, Indigi-Print, Jessi Rebel Art, Cancer Council Sunscreen, Feed Me Surf Coast and Surf Better Now.