February 18 - 24, 2024: Issue 614


Avalon-Bungan-newport-north narrabeen-long reef beach surfers named among Finalists announced 2023 Australian Surfing Awards + Chelsea Hedges to be inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame

Northern Beaches Para Surfer Boardriders Inc First Official Competition crew
Left to Right: Lee Ferrier, Lori Foti, Michael Foti, Jack Jackson, Max Devery (from WA!), Sam Bloom, Chris Astill
Back Row: Kirk Watson, John Crampton, Chook Harris
Front Row: Em Dieters 
Notable Absentees: Cam Bloom, Jaz Astill
Photo Byron Chadwick - nomoredahl

Some of the biggest names in surfing have been revealed as finalists in the 2023 Australian Surfing Awards incorporating the Hall of Fame, including a number of local surfers and creators.

Milla Brown (Bungan) is a Stephanie Gilmore Female Rising Star Award presented by Griffith University finalist, Laura Enever (North Narrabeen) is a Heavy Water Award finalist.

Kamchatka by Avalon Beach creatives Spencer Frost and Guy Williment featuring surfers Letty Mortensen and Fraser Dovell (both also of Avalon Beach), has been named among the finalists for Surf Film of the Year and both the Northern Beaches Para Surfing Boardriders Club and Long Reef Boardriders are finalists in the Simon Anderson Boardrider Club Award, while NBPSBC members Kirk Watson (Mona Vale) has been named among finalists for the Male Para Surfer of the Year and Female Para Surfer of the Year finalists include Sam Bloom (Newport) and Emma Dieters (Mona Vale).

On July 11 2023 15-year-old Milla Brown showed she remains one to keep an eye on in future years as she took out the coveted Pro Junior title as well as the Under-18 Girls division in the 2023 Skullcandy Oz Grom pres. by Vissla as well as the World Surf League (WSL) Junior Qualifying Series (JQS) Pro Junior division. Later that same year Milla won the Let’s Surf Lake Mac Pro Junior 2023.

Milla Brown being chaired after her July 2023 win. Photo: Ethan Smith/Surfing NSW

On Wednesday, November 8, 2023 the World Surf League (WSL) announces that Laura Enever (AUS) has set a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for the Largest wave surfed paddle-in (female). The WSL officially analysed, measured, and verified Enever’s 2023 record-breaking ride at 43.6 feet (13.3 meters) as part of the WSL Big Wave Record Chase, making it the biggest wave ever paddled into by a woman. 

Laura celebrating with her World Record award at North Narrabeen. Photo: WSL / Matt Dunbar

Kamchatka by Avalon Beach creatives Spencer Frost and Guy Williment follows filmmakers Spencer Frost and Guy Williment and surfers Letty Mortensen and Fraser Dovell as they journey to Kamchatka in the far east of Russia in search of new waves along the frozen, unexplored coastline. Bordered by the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Okhotsk with more than 150 volcanoes (29 active) the Kamchatka Peninsula in Far Eastern Russia is as remote as it is unique.

After 2 years of planning the trip was almost over before it started. An hour before boarding their flight to Moscow, Russia invaded Ukraine. At a time when the world was seeing the worst of human nature, these guys flew behind the iron curtain and found, to their surprise the best of it. Mi-8 helicopters, skidoos, frozen campsites, and frozen bank accounts, this surf trip quickly became far more than anyone could imagine. Trailer below.

Both the Northern Beaches Para Surfing Boardriders Club and Long Reef Boardriders are among the best of local boardridng clubs. Members of the Northern Beaches Para Surfing Boardriders Club formed art of the 2023 Irukandjis Team that took home seven medals in November 2023 at the ISA  World Para Surfing Championships.

The Northern Beaches Para Surfing Boardriders Club aims to provide a platform dedicated for para surfers to engage and mentor others in the sport of surfing. Through its services and activities, the club aims to empower para surfers and create a positive impact on their lives by fostering a sense of community and to promote inclusivity by raising awareness in the wider community. This then facilitates skill development and competitive opportunities for the para surfers.

Long Reef Boardriders was established in 1973 and is a community based board riders club for all ages, and one of the at least 18 boardrider clubs in our area. Their focus is on enjoying the waves, looking after the environment they find those waves in, and looking out for others too.

Longy Boardriders Jay Baldwin, Ben Heffernan, Matt Bamberry and another surfer were first responders when a surf life saving jetski operator was injured during a February 3 2023 rescue of three teenagers at Long Reef when a dangerous swell was running. They managed to get the operator back to shore where he was hospitalised due to his injuries.

''Surfers are in the water and are often the first responders...'' the club explains.

''2023 for Longy Boardriders was a blast. We had people flying all over the World and Australia competing in QS, Aussies, States, Junior and Woolworths comps. We turned 50 and got loose, we surfed in the ABB Australian Titles at Newcastle and North Narrabeen, The State of Origin at beautiful Burleigh. We held our Champions of Champions and were lucky enough to hold 9 club competitions in an erratic year for waves.

Our surfers keep raising the bar, all 170 of us. An indication of the continual strengthening of our depth; in the Open Women's we had 3 different winners and 13 different finalists, in the Open Mens we had 5 different winners and 14 different finalists.''

Long Reef Boardriders are about building community and are for community - and having some fun in the waves.

Surfers Sam Bloom and Emma Dieters are women who effectively decided setbacks weren't going to keep them out of the ocean and on the waves they love. Both Sam and Emma are inspirational speakers, mums, SCI survivors, and multi World Para Surf Champions. Both actively mentor others to try and do what they want to do. 

Ethan Ewing, Jacob Willcox, Molly Picklum and Steph Gilmore are among the top athletes who could take out Male and Female Surfer of the Year titles.

Eight-time World Champion Steph Gilmore said: "I’m honoured to be nominated for this award alongside Australia’s best female surfers. 2023 was not my best competitive year but thankful for the continued recognition and support."

Cronulla Surfing Academy Director and mental health campaigner, Blake Johnston, who broke the record for the world's longest surf session, is a finalist for the Greater Good Award.

"The world’s longest surf proved that we are all capable of making a difference. That by doing something bigger than you and leaning in to the vulnerability of going after our goals we can inspire communities and show we are worthy of living an epic life. Everyone deserves to feel awesome."

Lets Go Surfing Surf School Director, Brenda Miley, started Lets Go Surfing out of the back of a van at Bondi in 1995 with an idea to teach women to surf.

"Today, we operate at Bondi, Maroubra, Byron and Ballina with a staff of around 100 male and female surf coaches, and we’ve never deviated from our motto of ‘changing lives one wave at a time’.  We’re so proud to be a finalist in the Australian Surfing Awards for Surf School of the Year, and we’re excited to attend the awards at Bondi Pavilion and celebrate with all the other frothers in the surfing industry."

WA big wave charger, Ned Hart, is a finalist in three categories: the Mick Fanning Male Rising Star Award presented by Griffith University, the Heavy Water Award and the Surf Clip of the Year Award.

"To even get nominated in all three categories is massive, but to actually be a finalist in all three is huge, especially as the competition for these awards and the other finalists are insane!. Thank you for everyone who has recognised me," the 17-year-old said.

"I think there are a lot of positive changes for the big wave surfing industry right now, with people pushing harder than ever, so to be at the forefront of the Juniors is something I'm really stoked about."

The Australian Surfing Awards will be held at the iconic Bondi Pavilion at Bondi Beach in Sydney on Wednesday, 28th February.

Hosted by surf media icons, Vaughan Blakey and Jess Grimwood, the awards honour the best surfers over the past 12 months across 19 categories, adding to the excitement of our biggest gong, the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.

Finalists for 2023 Australian Surfing Awards (in no particular order):

Male Surfer of the Year
Jacob Willcox
Ethan Ewing
Russell Bierke

Female Surfer of the Year
Molly Picklum
Tyler Wright
Steph Gilmore

Mick Fanning Male Rising Star Award presented by Griffith University
Harley Walters
Ned Hart
Landen Smales

Stephanie Gilmore Female Rising Star Award presented by Griffith University
Milla Brown
Sierra Kerr
Mia Waite

Male Para Surfer of the Year
Kirk Watson
Mark "Mono" Stewart
Joel Taylor

Female Para Surfer of the Year
Sam Bloom
Sarah Gibson
Emma Dieters
Jocelyn Neumueller

Heavy Water Award
Russell Bierke
Laura Enever
Ned Hart

Greater Good Award
Sam Elsom - Sea Forest
Blake Johnston
Lucy Small

Peter Troy Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Surfing World
Steve Foreman
Gail Austen
Sandra English

Coach of the Year Award
Michael O'Rafferty
Jay Thompson
Cahill Bell-Warren

Surf School of the Year Award
Cronulla Surfing Academy
Let's Go Surfing
Coastrider Surf Academy - Clifton Beach

Innovation Award presented by ACCIONA
Creatures of Leisure
Usher Cup

Surf Culture Award presented by Jim Beam
Surf Witches Boardriders Club
Ain't that Swell

Simon Anderson Boardrider Club Award presented by Curly Lewis
Byron Bay Boardriders
Northern Beaches Para Surfing Boardriders Club
Long Reef Boardriders

Indigenous Surfing – Community Celebration Award
Summer Simon
Landen Smales
Lungi Slabb
Otis Carey

Surf Film of the Year – Filmer Award
Mash - James Keats featuring surfer Noa Deane
Kamchatka - Spencer Frost and Guy Williment featuring surfers Letty Mortensen and Fraser Dovell 
Calypte - Torren Martyn (filmmaker and surfer) and Aiyana Powell (surfer)

Surf Clip of the Year – Surfer Award (under 15 minutes)
Outer Edge of Leisure - Russell Bierke
Into Dust - Jacob Willcox
Shipstern Bluff - Ned Hart

Surf Photo of the Year presented by Tracks
Clementine Bourke "Parallel Universe"
Matt Dunbar "Blake Johnston"
Bill Morris "Max Miguigan"
Sam Venn - coastal landscape
Nick Green "Russell Bierke"
Ted Grambeau "Russell Bierke"
Joshua Tabone "Shaun Manners"
Ben Jackson "Darcy Piper"
Josh Bystrom "Summa Longbottom"
Simon "Swilly" Williams "Mitch Parkinson - Snapper Rocks"
Mathew Tildesley "Aquanova - Tasmania"
Andrew Shield "Korbin Hutchins"

Clementine Bourke "Parallel Universe"

Breakthrough Surf Brand of the Year Award
3Fingers surf zinc
Project Blank
Need Essentials

Chelsea Hedges To Be Inducted Into The Australian Surfing Hall Of Fame

Surfing Australia is thrilled to announce that Chelsea Hedges, 2005 World Champion, will be inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame at the Australian Surfing Awards.

Chelsea Hedges named 46th inductee to Australian Surfing Hall of Fame. Images: Peter Joli Wilson

Chelsea, who follows in the footsteps of last year's inductee, Taj Burrow, said it was a huge honour.

"There are so many surfers and idols already on that wall. Every time you walk into Surfing Australia, you see all those amazing names up there. To be recognised alongside my peers Layne, Taj, Mick, Joel, and Simon Anderson - I wasn’t part of the generations before that - but all those people, like Pauline, Layne and Pam, paved the way for us. It’s just an honour to be held in the same regard as these amazing athletes before me."

Eight-time World Champion, Steph Gilmore said: "Chelsea’s induction into the HOF is long overdue. She was my hero as a young surfer and a huge inspiration to many young females in surfing around the world. I’m very excited for her to finally receive this recognition."

Chelsea grew up surfing Sydney's Northern Beaches with her two brothers. Her skills as a goofy-footer were recognised early on by four-time world champion Lisa Andersen, who introduced her to Andrew Murphy, the Roxy and Quiksilver team manager at that time.

Known for charging big waves, her power surfing, and strong backhand attack, Chelsea won a World Junior title in 2001 and, after just one year on the Qualifying Series, qualified for the World Championship Tour. In her first year, she finished an impressive eighth in the world.

Chelsea represented Australia on Tour for a decade. She was twice crowned International Surfing Association (ISA) world champion (2002, 2010) and won the world championship title as well as the Triple Crown of Surfing in 2005.

Since retiring from competition, Chelsea has been making her mark as a coach and mentor to the next generation of athletes, as part of Surfing Australia’s talent identification pathway. She recently took part in the inaugural Generation 2032 coach development program, an initiative helping to support female high-performance coaches.

Chelsea now lives in Tweed Heads on Queensland’s Gold Coast, with her husband and three children.

About the 2023 Australian Surfing Awards

The Australian Surfing Awards will be held at the iconic Bondi Pavilion at Bondi Beach in Sydney on Wednesday, February 28.

Hosted by surf media icons Vaughan Blakey and Jess Grimwood, the awards honour the best surfers over the past 12 months across 19 categories, adding to the excitement of our biggest award, the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.

The Australian Surfing Awards incorporating the Hall of Fame are proudly sponsored by Griffith University, ACCIONA, Jim Beam, Le Tan, Small Things Wine, Tracks, Surfing World, Curly Lewis, and OnStone.