Surfest Indigenous Classic: Russ Molony eyes unique double in quest for 12th title

CHAMPION: Russ Molony with the perpetual trophy named in his honour after winning the 2017 Indigenous Classic. Picture: Throwing BucketsELEVEN-timeWandiyali ATSI Indigenous Classic champion Russ Molony believes big swell, a move to the weekend and a host of added cultural events could make this year’s contest the best ever.

One thing is for certain, Molony will have to overcome his busiest schedule yet to win a 12thcrown.

Molony will this weekend juggle his campaign in the Surfest event at Merewether with North Shelly Boardriders Club’s run at the n Boardriders Battle (ABB) national finalat Newcastle beach.

Traditionally a midweek contest, theIndigenous Classic has been moved to the weekend this year in a bid to attract more competitors and supporters alike. It is the richest indigenous surfing event, offering $22,000 in prizemoney across men’s, women’s, junior and longboard divisions.

Molony said the weekend slot and new events nearby should make the 2018 edition “the biggest one yet”.

“Having it on a weekend, it’s going to bring more people together,” Molony said.

“There’s heaps of cultural events, stalls and workshops happening this year. There’s art and craft and surfing lessons for the kids, it’s going to be a great weekend.”

Molony won the men’s event in 2017 to hold aloftthe perpetual trophy named in his honour, but this year he is aiming for a unique double.

“Hopefully it can be 12 titles and North Shelly win the boardriders.I’ll have to have a week off work if that happens,” he laughed.

ON TOP: North Shelly surfer Russ Molony on his way to winning the 2015 Surfest Indigenous Classic at Merewether. Picture: Peter Stoop

North Shelly gained a wildcard into the ABB, which is also a two-day contest.

“I’ll be doing a lot of running around, that’s for sure,” he said. “Hopefully I don’t have two heats coinciding, but I’ve had a look at theschedule and it looks pretty good. It comes down to Sunday and how we’re still going in the boardriders battle.”

The 42-year-old said predicted swell was “going to be pretty crazy”.

“It’ll be good to watch, but it will be pretty tiring for us surfing. But we always hope for good waves,” he said.

“I’ll see how the old body holds up.I’ve been that busy at work, so I’ve been trying to surf every afternoon to get my surf fitness back up.

“I’m still feeling young and fit, so it’s all good. I’m surfing as good as I ever have.”

“Slater’s 46 and he’s still pretty hard to beat that guy.”

Winning, though, was not the inspiration for Molony this weekend.

“It’s always good to do well in the event, but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t,” Molony said.

“I’m just happy to be with all the saltwater mob and just hang out.

“In the boardriders, it’s just good to hang with all the clubs. There’s heaps of guys you grew up surfing with and you get to see guys you haven’t seen for a while because they come from all around.”