46th Robe Easter Classic

THIS Easter will mark the 46th year of the annual Robe Easter Classic - with all eyes on the local surfing talent for a much sought-after win.

In the 46 years the surf competition has been running, only one local SE competitor has been crowned the winner.

It was South End's Dennis Martin, who took out the competition in 1974.

Robe's surfing culture has been a big drawcard to the area with the competition snowballing since its inception.

In the early days, locals and some visitors headed to Long Beach where the competition was held in the best conditions.

Steve's Place owner and competition organiser Sam Woolston said many of the first competitions were held at Long Beach because it had easier access for crowds.

"One year they had a paddling race instead because there was no waves," said Sam.

"First prize back then was between $50 and $100."

A lot has changed since the early days and the competition continues to grow, making it one of Australia's longest running surf events.

This year there will be a new and improved heat format, which means heats will consist of five men.

Heats for the semis and finals have also been changed, with only four surfers in each.

The competition will allow 40 competitors, with a cap of 16 locals, two per heat.

As always the women's heat will be a straight final and the top five local surfers from the men's heats will go into a local final.

Over the past two years Kangaroo Island's Teale Vanner has taken the win - at this stage it's unknown whether he will be back in 2014 to defend his title.

Other past winners include Port Noarlunga's Josh Locke and Seaford's Todd Goudie who are rumoured to be back this year - with Todd looking to beat Josh's record of six wins.

Also rumour has it local surf legend Tony Stevenson will enter the competition...could he be the surfer Robe needs to take the title?

Or could it be local surfer and fan favourite Tom Davidson, who after a successful 2013 competition will be keen to hit the waves.

Wildcard entry and Steve's Place employee Tyler McCourt will also be in fine form having recently ducked off to Indonesia to get some practice in before the annual event.

Though no Robe local has taken out the honours, worth mentioning is Jade Russell's five years in a row "best local surfer" title wins from 2003 to 2007. After winning it a total of six times, could he be this year's winner?

The annual competition has seen many great surfers grace the waves at Stony Rise, including past Easter Classic winner and ASP World Championship surfer Dion Atkinson.

First prize is $1000, with other prizes consisting of surf brand merchandise.

Representatives Ryan Anderson from O'Neil and Will Mills from Hurley will also be hanging out in the judging tent on competition day.

Last year the competition was moved from its usual Sunday to Saturday due to conditions.

"We always hope it will be at Stony's as it is the best location, has the best waves and is the best spot for spectators," said Sam.

"It will be held either Saturday or Sunday of the Easter long weekend, in the best available conditions."

Cantina Kick will also be back this year to supply the barbecue, with all money raised going towards finding a cure for Cystic Fibrosis on behalf of Mark Vearing and Kate Baird.

The annual fundraiser will also be the drawing of a raffle at the competition - tickets can be brought in many of Robe's Victoria St businesses.

Non-profit humanitarian organisation Surf Aid will also be at this year's event.

The organisation's aim is to improve the health, well-being and self-reliance of people living in isolated regions connected through surfing.

Steve's Place is still taking entries, head in store or contact Sam Woolston on 8768 2094 - $30 entry fee for competitors, all money goes to the prize purse.

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