As the sun rose majestically in the east I instantly knew we would be blessed with a beautiful and awe inspiring day. The first part of the equation was solved, but would there be waves?
As I raced down Campbell Parade I soon realised that it would indeed be a special day. Huey had once more smiled upon the memory of Chloe and provided us with waves worthy of contesting such a auspicious event.
The troops were ready, willing and able; quickly erecting tents, banners and stalls. Some prepared food, whilst others arranged a plethora of prizes and give aways. The generosity of many was soon evident and a special day was destined to become a magnificent one.
Registrations opened at 7am and by 8.30 the number had swelled to over 100. Expectations had been exceeded and the difficult task of selecting heats had begun. The final tally saw 96 men, 26 women and 8 juniors fighting it out in some spectacular competition in ‘milkable” waves.
There were slashes, floaters, 360’s, toes over noses, noses over toes, head dips and head plants, sand finishes, sad finishes, giggles and laughs, kooks and camaraderie, steamers and boardies. At times I didn’t know where to look. The compulsory dancing provided an element of entertainment unrivaled in surfing contests around the country and showed that the “old guys” can still rock with the best of them whilst the girls just looked great in bikinis wether standing, sitting, dancing, surfing, talking to me …………….
Hmmmmmmmm………….. Hmmmmmmm…………. GIRLS!
All different surfers, all different styles all having a ball and sharing what has become both a prized and heartwarming contest. Most never forgetting the reason we were there but still managing to put in their mightiest efforts to claim the prized trophy.
When the froth finally settled and the fruit salad and curry had been eaten, we were left with 16 worthy men ready to contest the 3 semis, and 5 outstanding women gearing up for their final. The juniors would have to wait a little longer to contest their finals, but were still enjoying the day immensely.
The highlight of the day for everyone was the paddle out at 1pm. This legendary event has had its numbers swell yearly and this year was no exception. The respect and love shown to the Byron family and the memory of Chloe brought a lump and tear to your scribe and I saw that all around me felt both charged and reflective. The energy, love and respect in the water was electric and as we threw our flowers into the centre and splashed a little water around, we all thanked Chloe for giving us such a magical day. Her lasting gift has been the fact that so many people have been united in sharing her lasting memory. All different ages, all different walks of life, all different abilities but one common bond. As I looked around and smiled to myself quietly I realised how simple world peace could be. All our leaders need to do is paddle out in their speedoes, form a circle, hold hands and realise we are all the same people, with all the same needs, desires, hopes, dreams and vision for the future. We all have a great capacity to love and give ourselves selflessly, we just require the opportunity. A simple circle on a sunny October day reminded me what its all about. Thank you Chloe.
The kitchen bitches cooked, the auctioneer shouted, the judges studied the form and the music blared away as the afternoon session started.
After the cutthroat entry into the semis, 2 through to the final from each semi seemed like a picnic. I soon learnt nothing could be further from the truth as I paddled out with some of the young guns that had travelled here from up the coast. I should have known better when I saw them paddle out without leg-ropes, wetties or any fear in their eyes.
When the ballet on water concluded there were 6 worthy finalists, and thank heavens Bondi was represented in 4 of these spots.
As the tide once again shifted the juniors finally entered the water and showed us where our future lies. What they lack in absolute skill they more than made up for in “stoke” and enthusiasm.
The women were next, and many of the men were glad not to be competing against these light-footed and graceful beauties. In the end, Milo Hyde was crowned a worthy winner.
With a fast dropping tide, the men finally entered the water around 4.30pm. Two past winners with a wealth of experience between them would mean “no prisoners” was the order of the day. Would local knowledge give the Bondi boys the edge or would the nose hugging young guns spoil the party? We were treated to world class competition but in the end only one could hold the trophy aloft
A final 360 was enough to get JJ the nod whilst the others had to scratch their heads and plan for next years assault.
The presentations were made, the tents pulled down, the bins were filled and we all had grins from ear to ear. There was only one thing left to do; reflect on what had gone down today and what it meant to each and every one of us. As the last stragglers exited around 6pm I could not help but be moved by what I was privileged to witness today.
I know none of us could really know how difficult this week had been for Dave, Tia and the Byron family but I hope the love in the air this day has helped their hearts soar for just a moment as we all remembered a daughter that will always be missed but never forgotten.
There are too many people to thank for all their generosity, time, donations and assistance in making this day special for the Byron’s and everyone lucky enough to witness it. You all know who you are, and God bless each and everyone of you.
The Final Results are as follows:
1st – JJ Starr
2nd – Anthony “Harries” Carroll
3rd – Rob Norman
4th – Paul Cram
5th – Glen Fitzgerald
6th – Kevin Holt
1st – Milo Hyde
2nd – Alisa Fuller
3rd – Brenda Miley
4th – Shereen Lobb
5th – Suzie Grant
6th – Kylie Roberts
1st – Janis Lejins
2nd – Max Henderson
3rd – Brett McAlpin
4th – Douglas Toby
1st – Phoebe Miley-Dyer
2nd – Olivia Miley-Dyer
3rd – Rebecca Salisbury
4th – Chyna Charles