October 2 - 8, 2016: Issue 283

BL's Blast Off 2016

In and out of the water this year it was all about sharing the passion and experience as well as good doses of past stories to deepen the understanding of the hundreds of young and upcoming surfers who took part in this year's Blast Off.

Education was and is so much a part of Blast Off each year, wrapped up in fun activities, that it sticks.

Bernard Midget Farrelly was spoken of at Blast Off Idol, Barton Lynch recalling Midget, even when battling for his health, was stating he would be taking on short boards soon, that he'd been studying videos of Mick Fanning and reckoned this would be his next foray into the aquatic resonances.

Commentators, many of whom have known BL for decades, could easily recall Barton's wins as a junior and even prompt him to share what music he used to amp himself up with prior to going into the water - the answer: 'Sweet Baby James' by James Taylor - pretty cruisey really, and then would play that song loudly for those out in the water, inspire their own glides.

From Day One, whether it was Uncle Terry,  a Kamilaroi or Gamilaroi man teaching traditional dances on the sand, a Traditional Smoking Ceremony led by Uncle Terry with a Welcome to Country from Auntie Shirley Lomas with Didgeridoo by Gumaroy, tarp surfing, treasure hunts for marshmallows in the north end of Whale Beach(??!: not sure I'd want any of those!), or the great judges offering great insights into the heats surfed and encouragement in what the surfers can do to make their waves even better, it was all about sharing the fun and the knowledge.

This year’s Blast Off “Keenest Groms” recipients were the first kids in Australia to go through a session at the newly launched Hurley Surf Club. The youngsters loved it - they surfed, were videoed and then coached by Hurley’s coaches to improve their surfing.

Blast Off “Keenest Groms” 2016
14’s – Ben Hrones
12’s – Ollie Hrones
10’s – Reef Roberts
8’s – Phoenix Visscher
6’s – Indica Corcoran

14’s – Blaze Roberts
12’s – Lily Macdonald
10’s – Ava Roberts
8’s – Harper Smales
6’s – Isla Schomberg

2016 Blast Off “Keenest Groms”

We spoke to BL after the Finals about this focus on sharing some insights into the history of surfing as part of each annual Blast Off.

“I feel our younger surfers need to understand the history. When you live in a world that moves so fast and changes so quickly there’s a tendency to just be consumed by the now and the latest thing that you can lose respect for the big picture. I’ve always been someone who has had respect and tried to invest that in others; I respect my elders, I respect my culture and be honest and respectful in my sharing of that. so I fell that the kids need to know stuff, they need to know where it came from and what it is and how lucky they are to have what they’ve got. Doing this deepens their understanding and enriches them.” BL explained.

What were the highlights for you this year BL – the Traditional Smoking Ceremony, Idol, the range of great conditions… ?

" Just finishing another is always a highlight. Blast Off is like a little mini-marathon and completing one and doing it well is always a highlight.
The Smoking Ceremony was wonderful too, it was important for us to include that. Idol was incredible again this year and a great night for everyone. We got waves and managed our conditions really well and did as best we possibly could with the conditions and the kids got lots of opportunity – the banks aren’t great at the moment so it was a bit of a challenge in that regard, but we pulled it all off. The staff were great, the kids were great, it all came together and went well.

I’m one of those people that always looks at the big picture and in this big picture we did well.”

During the presentations of prizes to all the finalists (yes, everyone gets something) Mick Talbot from Hurley stopped by to say a few words. Hurley as major supporters began over a decade ago when Simon Haskell, the chief of Hurley, stated he loved what BL was doing and wanted to work with him. BL explained he had an idea for a Grommet Event and 11 years later BL’s Blast Off, supported by Hurley is still going strong.

After thanking all the surfers and especially the parents for bringing them as without their commitment these youngster wouldn’t have the opportunity to attend and learn more about surfing at this event and from BL and his team, Mick singled out BL for some special thanks.

“BL puts his heart and soul into this event, and that’s probably why this event is head and shoulders above every Grommet event in the country, because of BL. This event is worked on for around 11 months each year prior to happening.” Mick said.

“We love this event and have been involved with it for a long long time and look forward to everyone coming back for the next ten years. Congratulations to everyone who has attended this year, your surfing has been amazing. We hope you have safe travels home and we'll see you next year. ”

Once again this 11th Blast Off attracted people from all over Australia and overseas - New Zealand, South Australia, Queenslanders, the north and south coasts of New South Wales as well as local talent from Manly, Narrabeen, Avalon or any other beach between here and where there are no beaches, only surf breaks.

Grace Knight, winner of Blast Off Idol 2016 with a great voice singing a great song, was so happy her mum brought her all the way from South Oz for her first, and due to her age, last Blast Off, Mum featured heavily in her thank you speech.

Ultimately the great crew led by BL are a family that simply extends itself to all those families that bring their children to Blast Off each year and these mums and dads and boys and girls create and keep a great vibe through four exhausting days of ripping it up in the water and dancing all over the sand or dancing all over Palmy rissole stage as part of Blast Off Idol.

All those who placed first after all those heats or did well in Blast Off Idol thanked BL and their mum and dad for bringing them, for driving them around, for supporting them... and mostly 'for everything!'

They're right - these are wonderful mums and dads, who are clearly having a great time spending four days fully engaged with what their children love, are a credit to what's good about here, nation wide.

BL's Blast Off is about bringing a community into our community that is of the same great vibe as the one that lives here. Enriching all participants who take part each year with new skills, new insights into where and when their sport evolved, having full on fun from Day 1 to Day 4 and making new friends or catching up with old, it's all about bringing in every positive element you can to make a vibrant dynamic surf carnival that not only helps every single person involved enjoy and extend their surfing but creates memories to have for life.

Perhaps this is one of the clearest instances of 'Give a child a board and he o she will think about getting in the water, check the conditions...wonder if it may be cold  - Teach a Child to Surf and they'll surf forever!'

And isn't that a great haven, relief, recourse and party to be part of - for life.


Some of the action runs below - albums further down - and details of how to get some snaps for your own records.

Results for all heats and finals on the Blast Off website HERE

Bernard 'Midget' Farrelly 
Bernard Farrelly - A Community Tribute - Issue 276, August, 2016
Bernard Farrelly - Pictorial Tribute - Issue 276, August 2016
Bernard Midget Farrelly Paddle Out Tribute - Issue 281, September 2016

Kamilaroi or Gamilaroi are Indigenous Australian Murri people who are from the area which extends from around Singleton in the Hunter Valley through to the Warrumbungle Mountains in the west and up through the present-day centres of Quirindi, Gunnedah, Tamworth, Narrabri, Walgett, Moree, Lightning Ridge and Mungindi in New South Wales, to Nindigully in south west Queensland.

Thank you given to Uncle Terry, signed b all the Blast Off crew, from the first year he began sharing insights into his people's knowledge and ways

Day 1

Day 2

Blast Off Idol 2016

Day 4

Report and photographs by AJ Guesdon, 2016
NB: If you want a full sized version of any image/s for your own Family Albums you need to send us an email with the Album Title and Image number. We're not that psychic and stating 'how about this one? ' won't work out too well.

Fuzzies where camera went out of focus have been left in for those who want to check their sequences.

!!: Pittwater Online does not charge for images - we're a News Service.