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“Mate, I’m at the counter and my name’s not coming up!” We were off to a shaky start; only a few hours prior we’d lost our first tester to the quarterfinals of the Margaret River Prime and with three minutes until boarding I was now fielding a call from tester number two, telling me there’d been a mix up with his booking.

An hour and half later we were two surfers, one bag, and a couple fixed fins down as we entered the fourth Bunnings within 10kms of Avalon airport to find our local guide, Ross Dart, smiling from ear to ear, ready to head back to the waves of his misspent youth.

Portland is a small coastal town based around one of Australia’s largest aluminium smelting plants and according to a number of reports, “It’s got at least one spot for any combination of swell and wind direction”. Throw in water that’s a couple of degrees colder than around the corner and you’ve got the perfect location for this year’s wetsuit test.

Things were definitely looking up when, after a Roman-esque drive of almost four hours without a turn, we rolled past the welcome sign and straight into the luxest place in town in the form of Quest Apartments.

After a quick check-in we raced out for a circuit of the nearest spots before dusk fell and the pub beckoned.

A few hours later, walking back to the apartment, drawing the cool night air into our drink-warmed chests, thoughts of our speckled start began to melt away and it seemed like everything was finally coming together for this year’s wetty test.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the week as there’s talk of a blue-moon spot –custom made for the calibre of surfers we’ve got on this trip – coming alive over the next few days.

– Fletch

Visit the 2012 Wetsuit guide: HERE