By Martin (Marty) Olsen

Australian Surfing Competition today is at the forefront as a national sport. 2020 will see the first time surfing has entered the Olympic Games arena and the Australian Olympic Surfing Team should be a formidable force in this inaugural event. In September the 2019 ISA World Surfing Games will be held in Japan and is the qualifying event for the 2020 Olympics. The Aussie Team will consist of:

MEN
Ryan Callinan
Owen Wright
Julian Wilson

WOMEN
Stephanie Gilmore
Sally Fitzgibbons
Nikki Van Dijk

 

In 1915, Duke Kahanamoku (the Hawaiian surfing icon) introduced surfing into Australia, he displayed his surfing skills for people at Freshwater Beach, Sydney. Duke wowed the crowds, and as a result, the popularity of surfing soared. Several years later, in 1924, the very first Australian Board Riding Championship was held and was won by Claude West, who is also credited with being the first white man in Australia to learn how to ride a surfboard, having been taught by Duke at Freshwater Beach.

Duke Kahanamoku at Freshwater Beach, Sydney

Organised surfing competitions in Australia were pretty much limited to the annual National championships for the next couple of decades, with the biggest change in surfing at this time being the introduction of more maneuverable hollow boards.

Surfing in the 60’s

Although large wagers were often placed on early surf contests, it was not until the 1960s that surfing involved prizes or cash awards. In 1965, money awards were still insignificant, but by the time the Fifth Annual Duke Kahanamoku Invitation Surfing Championship in Hawaii was held in 1969 and the first prize had grown to $1,000 and so was the beginning of professional surfing.

In 1965, the first ever World Surfing Championship was held in Sydney at Manly Beach in front of 65,000 spectators, and with it, the first ever World Surfing Champions were crowned — Bernard (Midget) Farrelly and Phyllis O’Donnell.

Bernard (Midget) Farrelly
Phyliss O’Donnell

12 years later in 1977 competitive surfing took a new turn when theman-on-man competition system was introduced at theStubbies Surf Classic at Burleigh Heads on the Gold Coast. The contest was  organised that year by surfer Peter Drouyn. He devised for it the “man on man” heat system where just two surfers competed in each heat (where before four or even six was normal) and attracted surfers from both Hawaii and Australia with the substantial purse of $12,500. The “Stubbies Classic” ran successfully through until 1998. Forty years later the prizemoney for surfing has grown exponentially – now the Quicksilver Pro has a prize purse exceeding $1 million – yet despite superficial rule changes the fundamentals of man-on-man surfing remain the same as Peter Drouyn’s original vision.

Peter Drouyn

Australia has produced multiple ASP world champions, such as Wayne (Rabbit) Bartholomew, Tom Carroll, Barton Lynch, Damien Hardman, Mark Occhilupo, Mick Fanning, Stephanie Gilmore, Layne Beachley, Wendy Botha, Pauline Menzcer, Chelsea Georgeson, Joel Parkinson, Tyler Wright and Mark Richards.

The country has also launched corporate surfing giants such as Billabong, Rip Curl and Quiksilver. Today Australia has the highest percentage of population surfing of any other country!

Pauline Menzcer one of Australia’s greatest women surfers

Major Australian Surfing Competitions include the Men’s Samsung Galaxy Championship Tour, Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast (Gold Coast, Queensland), Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach (Bells Beach, Victoria) and the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro (Margaret River, Western Australia). Other tournaments include the Australian Boardriders Battle, Australian Open of Surfing, Beachley Classic, Breaka Burleigh Pro and the Noosa Festival of Surfing. See the list below for some of the major events.

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Event Site Est. Ended Notes
Some Major Events
Association of Surfing Professionals Coolangatta, QLD 1982
Australian Boardriders Battle Cronulla, NSW 2014
Australian Open of Surfing Manly Beach, NSW 2012
Bells Beach Surf Classic Bells Beach, Victoria 1973
Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast Coolangatta, QLD 2004
Red Bull Cape Fear Cape Solander, Botany Bay, NSW 2014
Rip Curl Pro Torquay, Victoria 1973 Formerly the Bells Beach Surf Classic
Shark Island Challenge Cronulla, New South Wales 1997
Stubbies Burleigh Heads, Queensland 1977 1988
Surfabout Sydney, NSW 1974 1991
Surfest Newcastle, New South Wales 1985
Longboard Events
Malfunction Surfing Festival Gold Coast 1983
Noosa Festival of Surfing Noosa, Queensland 1992
Whalebone Classic Perth, Western Australia
Gromet Comps
Billabong Parko’s Grom Stomp Sunshine Coast, QLD
Taj’s Small fries Yallingup, WA
Oz Grom Cup Coffs Harbour, NSW
Occy’s Grom Comp Gold Coast, QLD
First Stubbies Classic 1974
Quicksilver Pro 2018
Quicksilver Pro 2018
Super Bank, Snapper Rocks, Gold Coast, the site for the Quicksilver Pro 2018

 

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Aloha and good surfing!!

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