June 2 - 28, 2014: Issue 168

 International Surfing Day 2014 – Hurley Champions Coach at Avalon Beach to Help Others Catch Their First Wave

 International Surfing Day 2014 – Hurley Champions Coach at Avalon Beach to Help Others Catch Their First Wave

Friday, June 20th was International Surfing Day, the 10th Anniversary and celebration of this annual event initiated by the Surfrider Foundation and Surfing Magazine. International Surfing Day started in 2005 with nearly 16 domestic (America) and one international event, and has grown exponentially to 200-plus events in more than 30 countries. Since its inception, approximately 70 tons of trash has been removed from the coastal environments of the US.

International Surfing Day is held annually on or near the summer solstice or winter solstice, depending on which hemisphere you are in. The day is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches and about participating in a clean up of a coastal area as a group or picking up rubbish yourself, as an individual, and then celebrating the sport of surfing, by catching a wave! 

This International Surfing Day, ‘Celebrating 10 Years of Stoke’,  the great team at Hurley Australia put on a coaching session with champion surfers Barton Lynch, Wayne ‘Rabbit’’ Bartholomew and Adrian Buchan ably supported by Shane of Palm Beach Surf School. The idea was to celebrate International Surfing Day by helping people catch their first wave. 

Hurley Australia support many local surfing events, including BL’s Blast Off each year and the Manly Open of Surfing which ran in February this year. They have also set up and operate the Hurley Surfing Australia High Performance Centre (HPC) which those who have attended state is at the forefront of sports science and coaching development for surfing. The ethos is clearly to put something back in and foster the talent or passion we all have for the surf and surfing.

Their website states about the HPC: “It is programs like these that ensure Australia maintains its place as a world leader in the sport. The HPC is not just for elite surfers - it is for any surfer who wants to dramatically boost their ability level.

See more here: www.surfingaustralia.com/hpc.php

Hurley put on similar ‘catch your first wave’ events, supplying all the equipment and coaches, all over the world this year. In Los Angeles the event was held at Hermosa Beach Pier (with Pipe Master Rob Machado, Bob Burnquist, and Filipe Toledo), in New York, yes New York has waves!; at Long Beach Blvd (with 2X World Champ Carissa Moore and Mikey Detemple), in South Africa at Surfers Corner, Muizenberg, Cape Town, in Costa Rica in front of Hotel Mango Mar on Playa Jaco, in Indonesia on Kuta Beach, Bali, in Japan on Shonan Tsujido Beach, in France on  La Cote des Basques, Biarritz, and in Sydney at the south end of Avalon Beach, Pittwater!

With a BBQ afterwards, great tips from people with a lot of experience, everyone from the knee high to the grey and bearded joined in this annual celebration, including many of the staff and team members from Hurley.

We spoke with the three lead coaches, and a few others, about what this day and surfing means to them.

Wayne ‘Rabbit’ Bartholomew

What’s the best thing about surfing on International Surfing Day?

Surfing on any day is pretty special but International Surfing Day is a Surfrider Foundation initiative which is happening concurrently all around the world and that’s the cool thing – that is what connects all surfers. It’s a great grass roots movement which is very inclusive. 

When and where did you first ride a wave?

My first wave that I ever rode was at Greenmount Beach on the Gold Coast. That was quite a few decades ago now – actually, almost centuries. No, it was in the sixties. 

That was a pretty amazing time.

We’ve also seen you here with your children at BL’s Blast Off each year – and they’re doing really well too. What to you is the difference between how the kids are surfing now and how you surfed during the ‘60’s?

Well, they’re just so much better now. They’re amazing at such a young age – kids now start at four and five. When I started surfing if you were eleven or twelve that was considered early. So there’s a big difference there to begin with. There’s also the fact that the equipment they’re riding is unbelievable.

The one thing that is the same is what we call the ‘froth’ – they’re all so absolutely keen to ride waves, the ocean just opens up a whole magical world to them. I love seeing that part of it, especially with my own kids now – that really is a phenomenal experience.

What tips do you give your children – not necessarily about style or mindset for competitions, but what you have learnt from your years of surfing?

I tell them if you love surfing, you can do it your whole life. It’s not like a sport where you hang your boots up, you can surf your whole life. That’s why I say to them ‘if you love surfing, that’s enough’.

The other side of that is of course that you have to take it in little chunks; learn and evolve your whole surfing – it’s a relationship with the ocean, it’s a place where you have got to have your act together. You’re always picking up knowledge – always evolving. So I keep it fun when talking to them but remind them there’s that safety aspect – ‘have your wits about you and learn all the time’. Every time you surf it’s a little bit different and by helping them be mindful of that they develop a rolling assessment of how it changes. I think that is a beautiful thing – if people don’t surf they look out there and it looks the same all the time when in fact it’s completely different every day.

What are your three favourite waves in the world then?

One is Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa, which is where the World Tour is heading next – that’s a very special place and a special wave. That whole North Coast of NSW is a special place of the world. I would have to say the islands off Sumatra, Indonesia, is a pretty special place as well.

Rabbit also ran into an old friend while sharing his love of surfing with youngsters on Friday, Alex Lofts, known as ‘Frog’ when these boys were a little bit younger was…well…let’s let them tell the story:

How long is it since you’ve seen each other?

Frog: Probably not since the ‘80’s – two or three decades.

‘Frog’ and ‘Rabbit’? – there seems to be some kind of animalistic thing going on in the ‘60’s….

Rabbit (laughs): no, no – Froggy and my sister went out together for years – so we’re close.

Frog: Rabbit’s mum tried to get me to talk Rabbit about of becoming a professional surfer – she wanted him to be a carpenter…

Rabbit: this is the real truth now…

Frog: I was in a bit of local strife with the local police, not that I’d done anything wrong, and was taking out Rabbit’s sister – and so Betty, Rabbit’s mother, tried to get me to talk him into being a carpenter – luckily he never listened. 

Rabbit: The thing is, in the sixties, it was a given that you were in trouble with the police. 

Frog: People were a bit anti-surfing during the sixties. Rabbit changed that around by taking surfing to a Professional level. On the Gold Coast they fought for it to be recognised as a Professional sport – simply because it was one of the main things most people did. Some people didn’t like us because we had long hair, we didn’t work regularly, we did other things I guess…

Rabbit: It was a well earned image…we were committed to it, worked at it.

Frog: they called us the ‘Hangers’. Now Rabbit has carried an Olympic Torch, he’s a spokesperson – he’s an ‘Esquire’.

He’s a legend!

Frog: yes!

Rabbit: Maybe I’m a ‘Professional Hanger’ now… (Frog laughing).

Frog: No, you just found a way to keep doing it!...to stay on the beach…

Rabbit and Frog

Barton ‘BL’ Lynch

What is the best thing about surfing on International Surfing Day?

Well, I suppose it’s the best thing about it everyday – for me ISD is a lot like every other day where you get up and go to the beach and surf. In this case it’s the opportunity for us all to do it together and celebrate the environment and raise awareness of our need to look after this. The Surfrider Foundation created International Surfing Day in 2005 in America – the idea was to raise people’s awareness of the ocean environment we surf in, for its protection, and to celebrate surfing. I think that’s the important thing – it’s great that we all get together and share a surf and enjoy that – but also to remember that message of looking after this environment is at the heart of this and uppermost as the priority of the day.

BL with daughter Tamarin

There’s three legends here today in yourself, Rabbit and Adrian ‘Ace’ – and some of the team riders who said they’ve been coached by you and Rabbit – what would you tell the littlies aspiring to not only go surfing everyday but follow in Adrian’s and Sandy’s footsteps?

If you’re keen to be a competitor, it’s a lot of fun, but you have got to have a work ethic – treat it like it’s a job – don’t let that steal the fun, but keep your focus on your performance and get out there and practice as much as you can because there’s kids all around the world with the same dream, and some are extremely hungry for it and very determined. In Australia life is pretty affluent and kids don’t want for much and that can lead to an easy going attitude which doesn’t normally lend itself to being a good competitor – so if you remember to do it for fun but have that work ethic and be prepared to work hard, because it is a very competitive sport these days, you will do better. You have to be hungry for it.

The Hurley Team here today, the second session of three has just finished, and a lot of the Hurley Team are paddling out to catch a few waves – they’re practicing what they preach…

Oh yes, everyone at Hurley loves it. From Bob Hurley, the principal of the company, he just loves to surf and that would be a primary reason he created the company, to those who have been assisting today – everyone loves to surf. As long as they get their work done, I’m sure they can then go surf. I’m just lucky that my department is in surfing (laughs). 

Where was your first wave?

My first wave was at Kiddies Corner at Palmy. I was about seven years old – I remember the first three waves in a row I nose dived, fell off, hated it and came in and said to my dad that I didn’t want to do it, that I wanted to stick to soccer, which I was playing at the time for Avalon. He said, ‘well just hang out for a bit’; we waited on the beach for about an hour or two, playing and mucking about; the tide dropped and the conditions changed. He said ‘go back out and have a try now’. 

My next three waves I rode all the way to the beach and I was hooked from then on.

Blast Off this year – the entries opened on Monday – how is that going?

As of this morning we had 305 entries and we’ve closed most divisions and are taking wait lists so we can better manage each age division to its capacity this year. There’s a few spots left but not too many.

What’s coming up in Blast Off this year?

Well hopefully we get days like today with conditions like this. But there will be all the usual fun and games and activities. The coaching we’re stepping up a bit this year – we’ve got some ideas around increasing that experience for the kids. There will be heaps of prizes and goodies as always – all the sponsors have embraced what we do again. 

What we’re looking at at this stage is on the Monday afternoon, the BBQ that has been at Beach Without Sand, we’ve outgrown that area, so we’re looking at perhaps moving that to Whale Beach this year, so that could be one change. Blast Off Idol is on again on the Tuesday night; we’ve already got a heap of entries for that, so it’s shaping up to be another great year.

Adrian ‘Ace’ Buchan

What does International Surfing Day mean to you?

To me it’s about getting out there and sharing the ocean with people who haven’t surfed before and celebrating a sport that has given us so much; I wanted to share that with people who might be new to surfing.

You’re doing well on the ASP Tour and working hard at honing your skills – what is the main difference between the surfing you’re doing and the surfing Rabbit did?

It’s like any sport, it just progresses – the bar gets raised every year. Surfing as a sport has become a lot more professional over the last ten years and that’s been reflected in the performance of the guys on tour. 

Where did you catch your first wave and how old were you?

I caught my first wave when I was about five years old at Avoca, where I still live now. 

Are you enjoying yourself at Avalon today?

Yeah, loving it – it’s nearly the same as Avoca – it’s just swapping the last three letters (laughs) – no, the waves are perfect for this kind of event today – it’s small and clean which is good for the kids – it’s friendly and the waters is warm and the sun’s out – that’s what you want.

What message would you give to younger surfers who aspire to do what you’re doing?

To just do it for the love of surfing. Don’t get too hard on yourself; surf because you enjoy it. I still love surfing just as much as I did when I was five years old – I think if you can compete and do it for the fun instead of treating it like a job is when you’re going to do your best.

Do you think you will still be surfing 40 years from now?

I hope so. My dad is still surfing and he’s 63 – he still gets out there – so he’s a bit of an inspiration. 

Sandon ‘Sandy’ Whittaker

What is the best thing about surfing for you?

Hanging out with my mates and going surfing – yeah! 

How long have you been one of Hurley’s team riders?

Four years now.

What’s the best part about being supported by Hurley Australia?

They’ve always got my back in any situation. I also like getting cool gear off them.

Have you been to any of the HPC camps?

Yes, I’ve been to a couple of those with Barton Lynch and Rabbit Bartholomew. They’re both classics – they’re teaching us how to surf better and how to get a better mindset of how the waves work. 

Gary Whittaker (Sandy's dad)

What is the best thing about surfing for you?

To me it’s always been a getaway form everyday life; when you’re surfing you don’t have to think about anything else, it’s a meditative experience in some ways.

How long have you been surfing?

42 years.

Gary and Sandy Whittaker

Adam Varvaressos

What is the best thing about surfing on International Surfing Day?

Just surfing – getting a few good waves.

You did get a few good waves out..

Yeah, it was fun.

How log have you been surfing?

Most of my life, since I was about four. 

Where was your first wave?

I think it was at Warriewood.

Final word … 



More pictures form part of this week's Pictorial - A Week In Pittwater - June 2014 HERE with link to Public Gallery.

Report and Pictures by A J Guesdon,2014.