Towner runner-up in Red Bull Cape Fear big-wave event
SURFING: Angourie big-wave surfer Laurie Towner has narrowly finished runner-up in the Red Bull Cape Fear event held at Tasmania's Shipstern Bluff on Monday.
The invitation-only event saw 20 surfers chosen to take on the surfing contest, which saw Towner go up against Australian legend Mick Fanning and 2016 defending champion Russell Bierke.
The famous 'Shippies' break is when a wave within a wave is created due to the shape of the reef bottom, causing several steps to emerge and is one of the most difficult surf locations in the world.
Towner progressed through to the final of the event with a 13.73 to take out the fifth heat, and grabbed second place with a combined 14.10 in the final as compatriot Justen 'Jughead' Allport secured the final podium spot.
It was Hawaiian surfer Nathan Florence who paddled into and successfully negotiated a double-overhead barrel and Shipstern's notorious 'step' to score an excellent 9.33 to cement himself as the one to beat and followed up with a 5.83 to seal the win as James Hollmer-Cross failed to find a second wave after scoring a perfect 10 with his first wave.
North Shore local Florence, 24, whose older brother John John (two time WSL Men's World Champion) and younger brother Ivan also surf, said he was "baffled” by the win.
"It's the first contest I've ever won. To be at this venue and win is amazing,” Florence said.
"To be surfing with the boys and the local legends, I just can't believe it. I'm so psyched. We drew straws to decide priority and, as soon as the horn blew, I was looking at this thing going, 'It's mine!' It was the best wave I caught. James had that unbelievable wave. It was perfect and he got a perfect score, but I'm so stoked he couldn't get another one... I was counting the minutes. It was the longest hour of my life.”
A full replay of the Red Bull Cape Fear event is available on the Red Bull website.