north avalon surfriders association storage space at the beach finally realised
On Saturday February 24 the official opening of the North Avalon Surfriders Association storage shed took place at North Avalon Beach. Over the past 54+ years NASA has supported thousands of young people to become great young adults simply through sharing the stoke surfing is and promoting healthy lifestyles in the great outdoors.
This is a family and community driven club whose members have performed thousands of rescues through its decades of existence simply through being experienced in the water and available outside of the patrol Season – they’re in the water all year round!
The storage space use will be limited to the organisation's general storage needs, including equipment for its monthly competitions and regional events. Stored items will include: surf boards, marquee, tents, flags, tables, the BBQ, First Aid equipment and a trailer.
Prior to this the NASA trailer had been moved from place to place, hosted by various NASA members where, inevitably, it had to be moved on for one reason or another. A range of other NASA equipment was stored at NASA members own houses.
The 6.5 m x 6.5m storage facility now adjoins the existing public amenities block with ample space to store their gear securely.
The project was made possible through the NSW Government’s 2022 Community Building Partnership (CBP) Program via a grant secured by former Pittwater MP Rob Stokes, with additional funding provided through Council.
To kick off 2024 and celebrate the official opening of their new clubhouse (shed), NASA put on their annual retro comp - The NASA Surf Classic! Open to all ages and all members past and present, with 70’s and 80’s single and twin fins only, the club closed the entries with around 100 surfers signed up.
Part of the NASA Surf Classic is to crown an 'Iron Gut' champion - Alex McTaggart explained what that is and where it came from.
Younger NASA members checking out the old boards:
The official opening, and ribbon cutting by Mayor Sue Heins, was preceded by a few insights from the following.
Phil Jones, NASA Contest Director and committee member, said:
Welcome everyone to the kick off for the 2024 NASA Season. Today we celebrate the opening of our shed and to celebrate the history of our club we have the NASA Surf Classic, a specialty retro event.
Welcome to the official opening of our NASA storage shed. This has been a big day to which we’ve looked forward to.
North Avalon Surfriders Association has been around for over 50 years now and we’ve been looking for somewhere to call home for just as long as the club has existed. Now that is a reality.
NASA is one of only a few boardrider clubs around Australia to have an official home and we hope we’re paving a way for other boardrider clubs to do the same.
As many would know, local boardrider clubs are the nursery grounds for Australia’s elite surfing athletes, as well as a huge part of the local community.
NASA has grown to become one of Australia’s biggest and most successful boardrider’s clubs, we have over 250 members, which makes us one of the biggest clubs in Australia. We’ve bred world champions, including 1997 Triple Crown winner Mike Rommelse, and 2005 World Champion Chelsea Jorgenson.
Our current champs are just about to take on the best clubs in Australia in the Grand Final of the Hyundai Boardriders Battle in a couple of weeks time*. Go Team!
We have some special guests here today to say a few words and help us celebrate the opening of our club base; our Mayor, Sue Heins, with Council having built the shed for us, Mayor Heins will do an Acknowledgment of Country for us. We also have our local state MP for Pittwater Rory Amon, the state government helped fund the construction of the NASA base through a Community Building Partnership (CBP) Program grant secured by former Pittwater MP Rob Stokes.
Former MP, former Councillor and local surfing legend Alex McTaggart is here today as well, and was instrumental in starting this whole process for us.
We also have a bunch of NASA elders here today, including a club founder, John Haymes, and David ‘Wato’ Watson, both of whom will say a few words about the history of the club.
Without further ado, I’ll hand over to our Mayor, Sue Heins.
Mayor Sue Heins:
First of all, congratulations – this has been a long time coming, 50+ years is a long time. Thank you to those who started this club and worked towards achieving this dream, and also to those who work behind the scenes in applying for grants and seeing this through to fruition. I’m glad to see the end result of this as well, it looks as though it was always here, and long may it continue.
I’d like to give an Acknowledgement of Country. I have a set of words that I always say as I’m very aware that within the clans of elders that we have here on the northern beaches, it’s important that we have words that they all agree to.
As a sign of respect, I’d like to start today’s proceedings by acknowledging the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we meet today, and Elders past, present and other Aboriginal people who may be present. I’d like to express my gratitude that we share this land today and my sorrow for the cost of that sharing. I hope that in the spirit of reconciliation, we can move forward to a place of justice, healing and partnership as we walk gently on this land.
So thank you very much – I’m thrilled to see you here today to celebrate a place you can finally call your own, we know how important it is for surfers to have a place for storage of equipment used for your sport so it is readily accessible, and also to take into account the rescues many local surfers have undertaken of those who have found themselves in difficulties in the water.
I’d also like to acknowledge that Councillor Miranda Korzy is here and Pittwater MP Rory Amon, and my fellow past-Councillor, Alex McTaggart.
Rory Amon, MP for Pittwater:
Thank you ladies and gentlemen for being here today. Looking around here today I see what is the epitome of community in North Avalon. We have the young folk, the not so young folk and that wide range of life experiences just adds to and enriches any community. The way in which you all view Avalon Beach as a discreet community is so valuable as it helps you build these relationships across generations and work towards having facilities like this where you can congregate and gather together, as well as store your equipment, is fantastic.
I do feel like a bit of a blister in coming here today as it was Rob Stokes who secured the $105,000.00 from the former NSW Government to help with this build.
So congratulations, enjoy your new storage space; it’s fantastic that it is ready and enjoy the surf today.
I’m going to speak about Retro because yes, we’re here to celebrate our new clubhouse, but we’re also here to celebrate surfing.
Retro surfing morphed out of Logs Day which we used to have every Boxing Day from about 1975 onwards. After a while we thought, well, let’s go back to some single fins. An integral part of the day was the Iron Guts event, which I encourage all of you to get involved in; it is so much fun.
The Iron Guts event started back in about 1978. We were having some trouble with the surf club about who owns the beach and who patrols the water and so we thought we’d shift the dynamics and us old guys decided we’d invite the surf club members to take part in a competition. This competition consisted of a paddle, a swim, crawl up the beach, eat a meat pie, drink a can of beer and go back around this circuit once more. Now the club declined the invitation but we held it anyway and so an integral part of the Surf Classic was we held the Iron Guts events, with a couple of former champions here today, including Any Owens who won it around 3 or 4 times.
This is a hard thing to do. We no longer do thew pie and the beer as it’s not permissible, but we do do cream buns and Coca-Cola – you do the circuit, crawl up the beach and take your medicine, do another circuit, and you’re as sick as a dog, but it is great fun and really sorts out the chaff.
And so, enjoy the surf, enjoy the Iron Guts, and enjoy the tradition because, again, this is part of community and part of what brings us all together.
I think we have reigning champion from last year here today – Rex Robbins. We will be running the Iron Guts event today, and may crown a new champ.
I’d like to call on John Haymes and David Watson to share a few club insights.
John knows a hell of a lot more about the history of the club than I do, and would comment that he didn’t start the club, Captain Ron Ware did a few years earlier. Johnny took it from one level up to the next, and that’s what we all remember. This was a crucial part of the social fabric of all the surfers; meetings and parties at his house The Sphinx, and it went on from there.
The ting I like about today, as already referred to, is that we have people from 7 to 75, and that’s one of things about surfing; it unites people across all generations. To see people working with Rory, with Sue, with Council, the surf group to be able to achieve what we have today is a testament to what we can get done when we all work together.
I’d also like to thank some people who have been instrumental in achieving this goal of NASA, to get a storage space, and apologies in advance to anyone I have forgotten. It’s the people who do all the work behind the scenes, often a thankless task, so I’ve made a brief list – some of the people who have done the hard work in running things and making things happen were obviously, originally, Ron Ware, Johnny Haymes, Peter Owens, Hamish Nelson, Anthony Carroll, Mark Stanek, Luke and Zoe Hobbs, Scott Taylor, Phil Jones and Andy Owens.
These guys are the engine room that make things happen, and they are the reason we are here today – so thanks very much guys.
It has been 54 years since I stood here when there was the first surf contest through NASA, and that’s a pretty long time.
The most pleasing aspect is that the club is in very good hands, you only have to look around at the number of people here today involved in this community and the results that have been posted over the last couple of years, it’s fantastic.
One thing w did manage to do through NASA was back in 1970 when we managed to make the B Grade Team get through to the State Titles. They ran an A and B Grade Team in those days. Our team of 14- to 15-year-olds went to the competition at Crescent Head and thought ‘we’ve got this far, we could win this thing’ and they did – which was a pretty amazing start for the club in its first year.
Unfortunately that iteration of the club only lasted 18 months. We had two very iconic surfers who lived in the area in Nat Young and Ted Spencer. Ted lived over at Clareville with his parents. In the 1971 championships at Bells Ted walked away from surfing, he had become disillusioned by it all.
All of the kids around here adored Nat and Ted, they both always had time for everybody, wanted to know what we could do with the club.
It wasn’t until Adam Watson and Adam Parsell spoke about getting it going again that something happened. I was standing in the car park here and Adam was just about to go into school, the first bell had rung, and he said ‘Johnny, do you think you could help us restart NASA?’ – I said, ‘Why not? Let’s give it a go.’
We met up at The Sphinx, 9 Harley Road, and that was the club premises for a number of years, and away we went. So it’s great to see how well the club is doing today – fantastic.**
Thanks Wato and Johnny for sharing some of that rich history of the club – we’re so glad to have you here today.
We’re going to call up Sue now to do the ribbon cutting and after that – let’s go surfing!
A few 'retro' pics to go with that:
Mayor Sue Heins has officially opened the place for NASA!
*The Grand Final of the Hyundai Boardriders Battle will be held March 9-10 at Burleigh Heads, Queensland. Local clubs North Narrabeen, North Avalon (NASA), Freshwater, and Bungan all qualified for the National final after competing in the North Narrabeen Beach event.
Due to huge demand across all eight Hyundai Australian Boardriders Battle (ABB) regional qualifiers, with 79 clubs competing across the nation, Surfing Australia announced an expansion to the Grand Final format on November 22, 2023. There were now 10 extra wildcards up for grabs, taking the total number of boardrider clubs set to compete to 42 (up from 32).
On December 7th 2023 Surfing Australia announced the 10 wildcard winners and named Long Reef (LRSA) and North Steyne BRC as NSW and local boardrider clubs who will travel north to do battle.
The Grand Final will be held for the next three years at Burleigh Heads in Queensland, renowned for its world-class point break. The 2024 ‘Final Battle’ will be live-streamed on the mySURFtv YouTube channel and Kayo Sports.