The Australian Surfing Awards are handed out each year in recognition of the contribution that surfers, groups and people have made to surfing.
Ran by Surfing Australia, the awards also include the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame which each year inducts a new member. The Hall Of Fame is located in Torquay at the Australian National Surfing Museum. Every Hall Of Fame member gets a shaped surfboard added to the museum collection with their name and list of achievements listed on the deck. Notable inclusions into the Hall Of Fame have been Mark Richards, ‘Midget’ Farrelly, Layne Beachley, Tom Carroll, Stephanie Gilmore, local surfing legends Wayne Lynch and Gail Couper and many more.
This year I was lucky enough to head up to the awards. The Bells Beach Surf Film Festival was a finalist in the Surf Culture Award category so it seemed like a good excuse to head north. This years event was held on the Gold Coast and for one night only all roads led to a very cool and damp Surfers Paradise.
There was plenty of drinks and finger food on supply as Australia’s top surfers, photographers, artists and filmmakers mingled for pre-award drinks. I was lucky enough to catch up with surf film maker Dick Hoole to talk surf films while drinking beers and eating fish tacos. I was then stoked to meet surf artists Garry Birdsall who came second at the Bells Contest in 1963 and featured on the cover of The Atlantics single cover for Bombora.
Pretty soon we were being ushered into the ballroom at QT for the main awards ceremony. It was amazing to see so many surf legends wandering around.
The big awards of the night went to Tyler Wright (current Women’s World Champ) who picked up the Female Surfer of the Year Award while her older brother Owen Wright took out the Male Surfer of the Year Award. Trent Mitchell took out the Surf Photo of the Year, Dave Rastovich picked up the Peter Troy Lifestyle award and the winner of the Surf Culture Award (not us) went to Phil Jarratt for his book “The Life of Brine”.
1993 Women’s World Champion Pauline Menczer was inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame and gave a very entertaining and engaging acceptance speech sharing her memories of sleeping in board bags and battling sever arthritis en route to winning the world title. She was a deserving inductee in 2018.
Attention now shifts to the Rip Curl Pro and the other surfing events on the Australian calendar. Will Mick Fanning win at Bells? Will Kelly Slater get back in the water for the Margaret River Pro and will Sally Fitzgibbon finally win a well deserved world title?
It’s going to be another great year of surfing.
By John Foss