March  3 - 9, 2024: Issue 616


Chelsea Hedges (Née Georgeson) Australian Surfing Hall Of Fame Inductee 2024

Photo: Smith/Surfing Australia
Surfing Australia was thrilled to announce that Chelsea Hedges, 2005 World Champion, would be inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame at the Australian Surfing Awards, held at the iconic Bondi Pavilion at Bondi Beach in Sydney on Wednesday, February 28.

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."

Chelsea's 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.

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

The Chelsea Show

Chelsea Georgeson grew up surfing Avalon and in NASA with her brothers Ryan and Kane. 

In 1997, when she was just 14 years old, Chelsea caught the attention of American four-time world champion Lisa Anderson, who was living in Avalon at the time.

Lisa was blown away by Chelsea’s raw talent and took her under her wing, convincing Quiksilver to sign the young Avalon grommet on to its Roxy surf team.

It didn't take long for Roxy to get a return on its investment. In 1998, Chelsea became under 16 Australian Junior World Champion, at the age of fifteen. 

Chelsea soon collected a number of other trophies before turning pro and qualifying for the World Championship Tour in 2002.

She finished fourth on the WCT in 2003 and third in 2004.  And then it all came together in 2005.

After a relatively slow start to the year—and one in which a 17-year-old wildcard Stephanie Gilmore burst onto the scene winning the first event on the Gold Coast—Chelsea came back to win the Billabong Tahiti Pro in the middle of the year in solid 6-foot surf.  She followed that confidence-boosting victory with a runner-up finish in Cornwall and another win in France.

Heading into the last two events in Hawaii, Chelsea and best friend Sofia Mulanovich from Peru were vying for the world title.

Chelsea ended up blowing Sofia and everyone else away.  She won the Roxy Pro at Haleiwa in solid 6 to 8 foot surf, collecting a perfect 10 point ride along the way.  She then won the Billabong Pro at Honolulu Bay in similar conditions to take the world championship and the triple crown, becoming the first athlete in women’s surfing history to achieve this trifecta.

By Phil Jones, NASA

Pittwater Online caught up with Chelsea on Tuesday, just after she landed in Sydney for the Australian Surfing Awards.

More in this Issue's Profile of the Week.


Sydney Academy Of Sport Athletic Track Problems Persist: Concerns Rubberised Materials - Pollutants Leaching Into Narrabeen Lagoon

Sydney Academy of Sport, Wakehurst Parkway, Narrabeen - photo supplied

The synthetic tracks at Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation, Narrabeen, resurfaced in 2018 after a campaign led by former Mackellar MP Jason Falinski, have deteriorated in recent months when the area has been flooded by rains, and the bubbling of the surface from early December 2023, a sign that water is not draining properly and that issue needs to be addressed, have led from user groups to call for repairs and concerns from residents rubber particles and chemicals are leaching into Narrabeen Lagoon.

Where the perimeter of the Sydney Academy of Sport and Recreation meets Narrabeen Lagoon:


Winners Crowned At The 2023 Australian Surfing Awards

North Narrabeen surfer Laura Enever with her award. Pic: Smith/Surfing Australia

Some of the biggest names in surfing have been honoured at the 2023 Australian Surfing Awards, held at the Bondi Pavilion in Bondi Beach, Sydney on Tuesday February 28.

Renowned surf media icons Vaughan Blakey and Jess Grimwood hosted the event, which recognised the outstanding achievements of athletes and contributors across 19 award categories.

Ethan Ewing and Molly Picklum were named Male and Female Surfer of the Year, respectively. Both accepted their awards from Puerto Rico, where they are currently competing at the ISA World Surfing Games.

Picklum said: "Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me. I'm really honoured to have won Female Surfer of the Year this year. Surfing is looking bright for the future of Australia. Congrats to everyone who won and hope y'all had a good night."

Ewing said: "It feels amazing to be Male Surfer of the Year. It was a huge year, last year. A lot of effort went in. I'm honoured to win this award. My greatest moment from 2023 was definitely my Bells win, super emotional and just to win an event at Bells. It's such an iconic event. It meant a lot to me. I'm super proud of that. I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has supported me me over the years. Definitely wouldn't be here without them."

Among the many highlights of the night, Harley Walters received the Mick Fanning Male Rising Star Award, while Sierra Kerr was honoured with the Stephanie Gilmore Rising Star Award.

Gilmore said: "With Surfing Australia supporting the juniors so much, it just seems like there's a real clear pathway for the young groms to come through and know what they want to do and have the support in and out of the water, in the gym, with the jet skis and coaches. It's a fantastic way to encourage kids to chase their dreams. Watching these last two (Championship Tour) events with Molly going absolutely mad and Sierra's going to be there behind her too. It's really special and I'm very privileged to be here to watch it."

Otis Carey was celebrated with the Indigenous Surfing Community Celebration Award for his contributions to the sport and community.

Carey said: "I do what I do for the next generation because as Indigenous people we have to work twice as hard to get to where we want to get to. I want to make it easier for the next generation."

Surf Witches Boardriders Club received the Surf Culture Award. The club aims to provide a friendly, supportive network for female surfers of all ages and its number of members has soared, several of whom, aged in their 60s and 70s, feature in the inspiring doco Taking Off: Tales of Older Women Who Surf.

Surf Clip of the Year – Surfer Award went to Outer Edge of Leisure - Russell Bierke.

World Record holders Laura Enever (largest paddle-in wave) and Blake Johnston (longest-recorded surfing session) were recognised with the Heavy Water Award and the Greater Good Award, respectively.

Other local winners include Surf Film of the Year – Filmer Award for Kamchatka - by  Avalon and Bilgola men Spencer Frost and Guy Williment featuring surfers Letty Mortensen and Fraser Dovell. Kamchatka is now available online via Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Google play or anywhere else you watch your videos.

Former Surfing Australia CEO Andrew Stark received Surfing Australia Life Membership for his dedication to Australian surfing and Stephanie Gilmore also presented one of the the biggest gongs, inducting Chelsea Hedges into the Surfing Australia Hall of Fame.

Chelsea Hedges (née Georgeson), former Avalon Beach and NASA member, was inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame. 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.

4 Australian Womens World Champs together: Chelsea Hedges (2024 Inductee to HOF), Pam Burridge (1997 Inductee to HOF), Stephanie Gilmore (2013 Inductee to HOF), Pauline Menczer (2018 Inductee to HOF). More at:


Palm Beach Golf Club Putts Off Year Long Celebration Of Their Centenary: 1924 To 2024

L to R: Club Captain Justin Zieren, Club President Dan Hill, Board Member and garden creator Lex Mitchell and Golf Legend and Course designer Craig Parry at the opening of the Centenary Garden.

Palm Beach Golf Club's Centenary celebrations commenced on February 10 with the gentleman who designed the course, Craig Parry, unveiling a Centenary Plaque that morning.

Special thanks went to Lex Mitchell and the team who put a lot of hard work into building the garden and stonework.

Later that day a Centenary dinner was celebrated by 150 people with great speeches, great food and a rocking bandPresident Dan Hill and his board and staff hosted a fabulous night. 

This Issue a record of those Addresses and a few photos of the best located golf course and golf club in the world, runs HERE


Almost 100 Drowning Deaths + More Than 5,000 Lives Saved This Summer

Azam and his family were visiting Avalon Beach from Homebush In December 2023.  They were very grateful for the work of Avalon Beach SLSC volunteer Patrol teams do to keep everyone safe on the beach. 

They had been warned about not swimming near the rip in front of the surf club, as their son was about to go in there. 

To show their appreciation for this preventative action and for the Patrol explaining the risks, they brought down a delicious tray of cooked lamb kebabs and sausages with flat bread for the entire patrol team. 

Azam and his kids were shown the other rips were on the Beach that day,  and where the safe spots to swim were.

Avalon Beach SLSC encourages the public to ask Patrols and learn more about swimming safely at our beaches. Please bear with them though if you ask on a busy busy day. 

You don't have to provide a tray of kebabs or anything to the volunteer surf lifesavers. The service is free!

Photo: Avalon Beach SLSC's Patrol 7 with Azam and his family. Pic: ABSLSC

A Summer Drowning Report released by Surf Life Saving Australia on March 1, 2024 has shown that tragically there were 99 drowning deaths this summer across the country with more than half occurring on the coast. 

This number would have been much worse if not for the efforts of volunteer surf lifesavers across the country with more than 5,700 rescues, 25,000 first aid treatments and 1.3 million preventative actions taken by surf lifesavers and lifeguards patrolling beaches across the country.

With more than 1.4 million hours volunteered by surf lifesavers on patrol every year, their actions are estimated to have contributed $1.6 billion economic value to the Australian community during the 2023/24 summer alone.

While the efforts of surf lifesavers are incredible, almost 100 summer drowning deaths were recorded around the country with sadly 55 lives lost on the coast (56%). Three in four occurred at a beach with rip currents again the number one coastal hazard accounting for 29% of drowning deaths.

84% of coastal drowning deaths were male, and regional and remote drowning deaths accounted for 60% of fatal coastal drowning, which is 9% above last year.

Surf Life Saving Australia CEO Adam Weir said: “Beaches around the country are busiest during Summer, with our surf lifesavers and lifeguards increasing their hours and services across Christmas, New Years, Australia Day as well as school holidays periods to meet the demand. 

“Volunteer surf lifesavers also save more lives over Summer than any other time of the year.

“Surf Life Saving Australia is grateful to all surf lifesavers and lifeguards who collectively have performed 5,176 rescues and 1,363,588 preventative actions, returning so many loved ones to their family and friends. 

“Sadly 55 lives were lost across our coastline this Summer with men again representing more than four in every five drowning deaths that occurred. This summer, 60% of coastal drowning deaths occurred in regional and remote locations, many at unpatrolled beaches” he said.

Weir said that every life lost is one too many and Surf Life Saving Australia is committed to its community education efforts but is also looking at new technologies that can further support front line services. 

“Surf Life Saving Australia is committed to working with our States to invest in technology that is tailored to the different regions across Australia and can help us target those ‘black spot’ regions where people are visiting but are currently unpatrolled.

“We have already seen the impact technology is having on our services with the introduction of drones, emergency response beacons and surveillance systems in some States.  But we want to be doing more and will be working with our stakeholders to do so. 

“With rip currents continuing to be the number one hazard around coastal drowning, Surf Life Saving Australia together with UNSW Sydney are investing in technology to develop a rip current detection smartphone tool using AI – the ‘Rip Eye’.  It’s just one of many technological advancements Surf Life Saving is investing in across Australia.  

“Public education remains the key and we need to make sure we are continuing to reach as many people, from as many communities and backgrounds, around the importance of coastal safety.

“Our primary message is to swim at the patrolled beach, between the red and yellow flags. But with Australia’s vast coastline, we are always looking at ways to expand our volunteer and lifeguard services,” he said.

With Summer coming to an end, Weir said surf lifesavers and lifeguards will continue working to keep Australia’s beaches safe.

“While this brings to a close a busy Summer, our surf lifesavers and lifeguards will remain on the beach for the next few months, including an anticipated busy Easter holiday period.

“SLSA and surf lifesavers are urging all Australians to keep water safety top of mind when visiting our beaches, understand your limitations and swim between the red and yellow flags,” he said.

Surf Life Saving Australia advise people to:   

  • Always supervise children in, on and around water 
  • Learn swimming, water safety and lifesaving skills 
  • Wear a lifejacket when boating, rock fishing or paddling 
  • Swim at a patrolled beach between the red and yellow flags 
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs around water 
  • Check the conditions, including weather forecasts

Read the full report here

At Avalon Beach on Australia Day, January 26, 2024:

Safe! Photo sequence: AJG/PON


Autumn In Pittwater 

Leap Day Swim at Mona Vale Basin, February 29, 2024. Photo by Joe Mills (Turimetta Moods)
Late Summer/First verge of Autumn 2024 mist in Warriewood. Photo by Joe Mills (Turimetta Moods)

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