YAMBA surfer Matt Jones added another title to his collection on the weekend when his team came from behind to win the National Surftag championships.
“It was the hugest upset,” Jones said of his team's win.
“No-one would have picked us from the start.”
Although he lives in Yamba now, Jones grew up surfing for the South Coast boardriders club, Werri.
“I left when I was 22, six years ago, and when I left they asked if I would always surf for the club and I said 'yes',” Jones said.
“It's all my mates I grew up with so it's always a good time.”
On Saturday the top 16 clubs from across Australia gathered at North Narrabeen for the finals, surfed in two-foot conditions.
The teams of five had one hour to surf.
Each surfer was scored for three waves, the second 'power' wave score was doubled and there was bonus points for the first team to finish within the hour.
Werri began in the worst possible way when Jones, the opening surfer, suffered an interference call on his opening ride, which resulted in an immediate seven-point deduction.
“I didn't even see the guy, I just ran into him,” Jones said.
He thought he'd lost it for the team, but Jones came back to score a 7.5 for his power wave, and a five on his third.
“All of the boys were saying to me 'come on we can still win this',” he said.
“They all thought, 'oh stuff this, we've got nothing to lose'.”
Werri's second surfer, Rhys Bombaci, threw caution to the wind and scored two outstanding nine-point-plus rides.
Bombaci's amazing performance moved Werri from last place to first.
Former ASP World Tour surfer Todd Prestage added to Bombaci's scores with a series of excellent waves to give the club a solid and unexpected lead coming to the final surfers. Tully Robinson and Ryan Bailey were able to maintain the club's position to take out the national title.
Event favourites Snapper Rocks had a very mixed run in the final.
With leading world tour surfers Joel Parkinson and Josh Kerr heading up the team, they looked formidable.
Parkinson had a tough time in the water, with a combination of wave-starved conditions and what appeared to be a very aggressive paddling tussle with North Narrabeen's Chris Davidson.
Josh Kerr looked set to bring the club right back into contention when he opened with a perfect 10, but his follow-up waves were terrible and the club's chances of winning were gone.
North Narrabeen's team made a few crucial late errors but considering Werri's opening interference call, the winners were unanimously applauded as deserved champions of Australia.
Jones is now in Newcastle for the Mark Richards Pro WQS event.