The Lofoten Masters wrapped up in perfect yet increasingly powerless conditions at Unstad on Saturday. The sun was only ever obscured by the mountains that surround the valley at Unstad, and the wind only ever blew offshore (when I did show up), making this year’s event one of the best ever according to many.
The morning showed some promise with the occasional tube being found on the bank in the centre of the beach. Joshua Burguete-Kirkman from Australia (a ‘love refugee’ in Lund) snuck into a set wave in his repercharge heat and found himself under the curtain for enough time for the judges to eventually award him with one of the higher heat totals of the event at 15.9. There were some reports that he claimed the barrel after exiting, but he maintains that he was simply trying to balance himself as the tube shut down.
After the repercharge heats from the Men’s division were completed and the quarter finals decided, the women took to the water and the eventual winner of the event was evident from the early heats. Guro Aanestad was dominant and stylish, connecting her turns with precision and poise, and dominating every heat she surfed.
The Men’s division continued with quarter finals and semis with the standouts being the eventual finalists in the event. Tim Matley (Australia) continued to find ramps and launch into frontside reverses at will; Tim Latte (Sweden) gave a masterclass in speed, power and flow in both his quarter and semi-final, as well as taking to the sky for a backside reverse that he couldn’t stick (and which would leave him with some knee damage into the final); Shannon Ainslie (South Africa) gave solid performances, linking together numerous turns on his backhand and managing to lay down some powerful turns too; and Gil Ferreira found some tube time on the left in his quarter final and linked together some quality turns in his semi-final too.
The day only seemed to get better (in terms of the weather), and the waves weaker (in terms of the wave size and frequency) as the evening approached. The hind dune was swelling with people keen to see all the action unfold, and the live webcast had a number of people tuning in from around the world to see who would be crowned the winners of this year’s event. The sauna also reached near-capacity during the finals, with a number of ‘sauna judges’ forming their own opinions of the results as they sipped on beers and worked up a sweat with a view.
In the Women’s Final Guro Aanestad maintained her dominance from the earlier rounds to take the win, while the other finalists showed great promise of a result in future events.
The Men’s Final was a non-stop display of high-quality surfing on par with anything available to view at the Quik Pro in France this week.
The Final started with some solid exchanges between Shannon Ainslie and Tim Matley, both of whom linking at least 3 solid turns on the right hand bank and setting a high bar for the rest of the heat. Tim Latte had a slow start to the heat but eventually managed to grab a long, reeling left where he linked a number of solid turns, and a shorter yet punchier right hander with some solid backhand rail work too (despite his injured knee in the semi-finals). Gill Ferriera put in a great performance with some aggressive yet loose backhand rail work on the right, which saw him edge past Tim Latte towards a 3rd place finish. The top two was a close match, but with Tim Matley managing to show some great aerial work in the middle of the heat and also some powerful rail surfing too, Shannon Ainslie would have to settle for second place on the podium, leaving the win for the Australian.
At the conclusion of the contest back at Unstad Arctic Surf Camp, organizer Tommy gave everyone a brilliant speech thanking the supporters, competitors and locals praise for a great weekend. He also gave some advice to people who may have been critical of the judging during the event, saying: “to any of you who think that the judging was not fair I say: fuck off”, and going on to say that the judges were volunteers and this event was more about the love of surfing than competing.
The winners were again celebrated by everyone present and some great food and drink were had into the early hours of the morning as the Aurora Borealis danced in the northern sky. One of the ironies of the winners Tim and Guro was that they are in fact a couple, with many thinking that they may have just what it takes to surpass Alana and Jack as surfing’s next ‘power couple’ in the making.
A huge thank you again to the organisers and locals for putting on such a great event in such a stunning location. If you have not visited Lofoten yet for a few waves you really need to think about getting up there to experience it yourself. Why not consider coming to next year’s 10th anniversary event? Even if you don’t want to compete, the vibe will still be the same and the view from the sauna will always be cozy…
Photo: Hallvard Kolltveit
#1: Guro Aanestad - 11,53
#2: Guro Henriksen - 9,6
#3: Myrtille Heissat - 8,9
#4: Nora Kvalsvik - 6,7
#1: Tom Matley - 16,06
#2: Shannon Ainslie - 15,5
#3: Gil Ferreira - 14,7
#4: Tim Latte - 13,6
Full results here on www.lofotenmasters.com