October 2 - 8, 2011: Issue 26

Above: BL and daughter Tamarin. 

Below: South Palmie Day One (L to R) Isaac, Nick, Brendon and Louis.

Copyright Pittwater Online News, 2011.  All Rights Reserved.

 BL’s Blast Off 2011

Above: Girls shaking hands after their heat, Palm Beach, Wednesday.

The Event of the week has to be the wonderful Annual Blast Off Competition held at Palm Beach and Avalon from Monday through Thursday this week. The spirit of the families who took part, the sportsman and womanship displayed, the courtesy and consideration of locals, the hard work of the support crew and the energy of all those who took to the waves or attended the nightly side-events is what community and surfing is all about.

Barton Lynch’s 6th annual Blast Off was just fantastic. The spirit, hard work and involvement of the mums and dads, the energy of children aged from five to fourteen made the first week of the school holidays a delightful and memorable experience. This pre-junior event allows children from five to fourteen to meet, become friends, and more importantly, try out what it is like to go from Day One to the Presentations in a full scale surf event. Guided along each step, or backhand, reverse or even how to shift to be in the ‘power’ part of each wave, the focus is on coalescing already evident enthusiasm and empowering the next generation of Australian surfers.

Blast Off is a family orientated Surf Competition which targets the development of self reliance skills as much as improving surfing skills and introducing youngsters to the world of competitive surfing in a format that promotes self esteem and confidence. Children who enter are encouraged to develop knowledge not only of the ocean but of themselves. Through the coaching advice given throughout the heats we witnessed these knee high to shoulder high people improve through every heat and day. Over 3000 people and 300 competitors and their families from Angourie in the north to way past Wollongong in the south, and even New Zealand came to engage with each other and have some fun.

A range of night time activities such as Monday’s BBQ at Beach Without Sand, Nth Avalon, or Tuesday’s Blast Off Idol at PB RSL or even Wednesday’s gold coin donation to see a at movie at Avalon Theatre in order to raise much needed funds for a defibrillator at Avalon SLSC epitomise the family and community committed core of this event.

Blast Off Idol, with ten entrants and a latecomer 11th, was a wonderful evening. Judged by locals Paul Christie, Yahoo Serious, Laura Enever and Terry Olsen the acts from dancing, through piano and guitar accompanied originals, as well as a blasting ACDC’s TNT rendition from Banjo Hunt was a deafening and resounding success. Hosted by Mitchell Tomlinson and BL the crowd screamed when Laura’s involvement was announced. Why are you screaming? was answered by “Because she’s a really good surfer!”. And “She’s just great, you should see her surf!” Banjo Hunt won, India Gorton from the South Coast came second and Luka Rhetts (sorry if spelt wrong) singing ‘Yellow’ by Coldplay was third.

Barton’s Crew of daughter Tamarin, lovely wife Holly, Craig Claridge, brothers ‘Headbutt’ and ‘Curly’ or John and Wayne Rixon of NSW Surfing, David Ling, Evan Jeffrey, Grace and local Avalon resident Peter Roberts, who has been a judge from year one, as well as commentators TB, Paige Houden and James Mitchell deserve a resounding applause for all their hard work, dedication and just plain out hard sweat to ensure all ran smoothly for a marathon four days. Palm Beach Life Savers stayed with all involved throughout the four days, on standby in the water or on the beach, even at Avalon, when the swell grew large. Other crew of Luke Mitchell, Dylan Jeffries, Jack Entwistle, Jett Hobbs, Graeme Davey, David demonstrated an ‘all hands on deck, or beach’ theory and practice from 6am to dusk each day.

When speaking to some of the mums and dads their commitment showed in everything from going out into the waves with children competing in the under 6’s category to explaining how they had arrived on the Sunday, a day before the event starts, solely to let their children have a few practice runs as much as ‘settle’ for a good sleep prior to day one. All remarked that their sons and daughters were very driven and many were back for a second or third year as the kids loved the experience and thought the whole event was ‘just fantastic’. There were also second and third generation young surfers participating, Patrick, son of Damien Hardman, and Jagger Bartholemew, son of Rabbit gave us all cheeky grins, great surfing and even better dancing during the Idol evening.

Ultimately it is sponsors such as Hurley, Skull Candy, Chilli Surfboards(providing new surfboards for first place), Native shoes (who gave everyone a pair as well as providing a ‘scholarship’ as part of prize giving) Streetboardz, who also gave away fantastic prizes, and Pittwater’s own Barton Lynch, who, although he was looking a bit weary by Day Four, we have to thank for the absolute gift he and they, in their support, have designed for future generations of surfers in working so hard to ensure the success of Blast Off.  Additonal sponsors: Board Bog, Electric, Amazon Power, Action Sports Ready, Fantasea provided on site support and a range of free prouducts or a Ferry 'Whale watching excursion' for families. Barton’s announcement of a training scholarship provided by him and Beecraft to young gent Christopher Zaffis and young lady Billie Melinez are what Blast Off, in seeking to guide our children and all in them, is all about.

This is definitely a case of ‘All are Welcome Because All Belong’ and we can’t wait for next year; after a long exhale of course. Great Wave Blessings on you all. Huey, and more relatively, spiritually and ultimately, Mother Nature, are well pleased.

Please note; have taken well over 1000 photographs from Day One, Three and Four and kept a copy of these at full size for all those who want one. It may take time but you will get yours, if we have it, and geez… we probably do; just tell us what Heat you were in and what colour rashie you were wearing and we’ll sort it out from there. Cheers, Ed. Yes, they're free. Yes, we put them up on the site so you can copy them; place mouse over image, click right, wait for 'save picture as' to come up, add your own title, Save! Or, Contact us  Here.

More Pictures.


List of entrants: http://www.blblastoff.com.au/2011_ENTRIES.html
Format; http://www.blblastoff.com.au/SURFING_FORMAT.html
About; http://www.blblastoff.com.au/ABOUT.html
Laura Enever Surfing image on Mpora Photo photo.mpora.com/photo/jsurnZ2WQB/ - Cached
In 2011 BL’s Blast Off will be supporting The Surfrider Foundation. (from Blast Off Website) Every entry fee includes a 12 month membership to Surfrider.  We want to encourage everyone, even the youngest kids to be a part of protecting our waves and beaches.

Below: Beach Sports to engage in while waiting for your Heat.

Below: BL and the children of Blast Off 2011, Under 6's. Below that: Free Surf Practice prior to Day Three heats, North Palm Beach. Above; Chris Zaffis, scholarship winner.