Shark sightings cancel national bodyboard contest

WA bodyboader Noah Symmans took victory in the open mens before the competition was cancelled due to shark sightings.

The final day of competition for the Surfing Australia National Bodyboarding Titles in Coffs Harbour was cancelled following multiple shark sightings yesterday.

Contestants were forced to come to shore mid-way through their cadets final after a shark was spotted cruising near the lineup of the competition.

It is understood that a contestant saw what he believed to be a shark swimming close by when he was in the water.

The contestant then waved for jet ski patrol who helped get all competitors into shore safely.

Australian Bodyboard Titles co-event director Terry McKenna said it is believed the shark was a bronze whaler.
“According to jet ski patrol it was a bronze whaler shark,” McKenna said.
Surfing Australia had a strong shark mitigation plan that we followed from day one and doing that prevented any shark incidents from occurring.”

The contest was moved to nearby Parks Beach, however another shark sighting forced the Coffs Harbour City Council to close all beaches and effectively end the final day of competition.

All finalists in the Cadet (Under-16 Boys) and Grommet (Under-14 Boys) finalists shared an equal fourth place finish.

There were also unofficial reports of shark sightings in the Coffs Harbour area throughout the 17 day Australian Surf Festival but this was the first instance of a sighting during a competition.

Australian Surf Festival Contest Director Glen Elliott said water surveillance crews were on hand throughout the festival.

“Competitor safety is absolutely paramount and our number one concern,” Mr Elliott said.

“The bcu Australian Surf Festival has had constant water-surveillance over the course of the first 16 days of competition and we had zero sightings over that period.”

In the two completed divisions of the event, Noah Symmans (Albany, WA), took wins in the Open and Junior division with some solid wave scores.

As a result, Symmans has cemented his spot into the upcoming ISA World Bodyboard Titles in Chile.