FLASHBACK: Shane Powell, of Australia, powered to a heat win  during the Billabong Pro held at Teahupoo, Tahiti in 2001.
FLASHBACK: Shane Powell, of Australia, powered to a heat win during the Billabong Pro held at Teahupoo, Tahiti in 2001. Getty Images

CLASSIC CATCH

SURFING: Former world No. 2 Shane Powell will head an exciting field of prospects as the annual Pippie Beach Classic returns to Yamba shores today.

Powell, who has called Yamba home for the past six years, is getting back into competition for the first time in the Opens division, which will feature a full field of 32 surfers.

The Sydney-born surfer turned professional in the early 1990s and reached as high as second in the world in 1994 before ending a 15-year run on the world tour in 2004.

While he swapped the board for a rod when he moved to Yamba to become a professional fisherman, it appears the competitive edge has returned.

Angourie Boardriders Club president Ben Churton said he was excited to have the former tour surfer in the field, but admitted he would have some stiff competition for the prize.

"He must have rekindled that competitive fire,” he said.

"He hasn't been involved in the competition before but we are stoked to have him on board.

"Fellow former world tour surfer Dan Ross will be among the contenders once again while crowd favourite Frank Murphy will be keen to go one better this year after he made the Opens final in 2018.”

Jeremy Walters surfs in his heat at the Pippie Beach Classic.
SURF LESSON: Jeremy Walters surfs in a heat at the Pippie Beach Classic. Adam Hourigan

The Pippie Beach Classic returned to Pippi Beach in 2017 after a decade-long hiatus and has only grown each year since with the under-14 grommets joining the competition for the first time this year.

The over-50s men's competition has also grown this year with surfers fighting it out for the Steve Lokic Trophy, which honours one of the original members of the boardriders' club.

"There are a few new qualifiers for the over-50s that might shake up Mark Ramsey's reign as the leading man in that category,” Churton said.

"It is great to see more people come on board.

"It is a really good social occasion for all the Yamba and Angourie surfers to get together and celebrate the sport we love.”

Businesses across the Clarence Valley have again come on board to sponsor the event including The Pacific Hotel, Coopers Brewery, Brgr Spot, Karrikin, The Mexican, Fishing Haven Holiday Park and Triple B Online.

While the small surf conditions are not expected to be the most conducive for competition, Churton said it could change in an instant.