Chloe Byron 10th Annual Memorial Ohana Contest - Sunday 14th October 2012

Chloe Byron 10th Annual Memorial Ohana Contest – Sunday 14th October 2012

The day started before day-break as we tried to beat another charity function also on Bondi Beach at getting the majority of the car spaces. And, by 7am, the car spaces had all but disappeared as spectators and surfers flocked to the third ramp in anticipation of a big day.

And, no-one was disappointed!

The Bondi Longboard Club members set about retrieving the competition gear from our store-room, while the Executive Members discussed the major decision of where to have the competition area and decided to hold it, traditionally, on the left and right banks in front of the third ramp. As usual, the members colluded to raise the judges’ tent and, after a record 10 minutes, figured out that the tiny pins that held up two of the tent’s legs up had disappeared. Well, despite the minor hysteria it caused, we found that we have some very resourceful members who fixed the situation with engineering brilliance by jamming a couple of steel pins into the vacant holes – a collective sigh of relief!

Joanne East and Kim Lipping took registrations, which numbered 78 competitors in total – 54 open & stand up, 12 women, 6 junior boys and 6 junior girls. People were coming out of the woodwork, from behind the bushes, even calling by car phone from the major queue that had grown at the front gates of the car-park. Friends of friends of friends called on favours to get a start, but numbers had to be limited, if we were to finish before Monday!

Wayne Dive, Henry Brycki and John Dicks drew up the heats for all of the grades and ensured a good spread of talent was applied to all first round heats.

The heats started at 8:20am and, with the Head Judge John Dicks and his able spotter Greg Nelson running the judges’ area like a well-waxed Takayama (one of two dozen logs John owns himself). The competitors soaked up and shared the Aloha Spirit with each other, while producing some magnificent performances in the knock-out heats. All competitors danced before their heats, the woman dancing like the angels they all were, while the men danced like the heathens they were – what a contrast!

Our Club Patron, Barry ‘Magoo’ McGuigan and his lovely wife Debbie arrived and slipped straight into the special car space we had earlier arranged for them by covering three car spaces with two cars – a locals trick! We set up special seating for them both so our 83 year old patron could see all the action. Barry still surfs competitively and holds his own Charity Competition each year up on the Central Coast.

The talent across the heats and even the sexes generated high scores, but the majority of the heats spawned a clear winner, making the up-coming semi-finals an even more interesting surfing competition. And all that just took us to the 1pm lunch-time break.

And while all the action was going on in the water, there was breakfast of bacon and egg sandwiches being conjured up by Dave Byron and his kitchen bitches who had been serving him for a decade, Chris Stonefield, John Campbell, Stan Peters and Steve Leslie. Then the crew quickly turned the kitchen into a lunch of Jambalaya, an exotic mix of meat, celery, pasta, peppers, onions, smoked sausage, seafood, assorted vegetables and tomatoes masterfully brought together by head chef Big Dave Byron, himself.

Wally Beneke delivered a ute-full of soft drinks, energy drinks, water and ice which outlasted the crowd’s collective thirst and gave the competitors the performance enhancement to lift the level of competitive surfing on the day.

Tia Byron ran the live and silent raffles with the non-stop help of Jane Grevis, Lydia Stonefield, Robyn Stonefield, Junia Kerr, Margaret Jones, Sue & Callie Lewis, Lisa Cram, Janice Leslie, Amy Heatrick, Kim Lipping, Kerry Beneke and Faye Hatsotouris. Kitchen scrubbers Suzie Szebanski and Christine Guderjahn washed up the dishes, pans and cutlery after each meal serving but improved the softness of their hands at the same time by using Palmolive dishwashing liquid, luckily.

Face painting for the kids, and some grown-up kids, was donated by Prue & Sienna Provone. The charming sight of the rugged kitchen bitches with frangipanis painted on their cheeks only added to the beautiful atmosphere of the day.

Brenda Miley, from Bondi’s Let’s Go Surfing and Bondi Girls Surfboard Riders Club, donated the sensational trophies, as she does each year. But this year was the best ever, a Perspex wave with a colourful collage of images surrounding the photograph of Chloe from the pavilion wall.

Spectators were also invited to view the Chloe Byron display that the Waverley Council supported in the Bondi Pavilion – a magical journey of Chloe’s life supported by stories, pictures and memorabilia from her family and friends, displayed around the inner atrium.

BLC resident DJ Noah Fraser, ably assisted by his dad Dave who owns all the P.A. gear and music, pumped out classic song after classic song and the crowd jammed along with all the dancers from the heats, hooting and hollering encouragement, some of it for them to stay on the dance floor and some of it to get off!

The chequered dance floor was supplied by Tony Spanos and our brothers from the Bondi Board Riders, Tony being one of the good guys from Bondi told me personally that he enjoyed the fun and love of the day, massively.

The 150 t-shirts were designed, with the technical help of Dale Fraser, by Dave and Tia and were emblazoned with a floral 10 on the front and a medley of Chloe images on the back in the shape of her favourite flower, the frangipani. They sold like hotcakes and were proudly worn by their buyers, including me!

All throughout the day, we held live raffles and gave away a plethora of prizes from all our very generous sponsors, listed below. Most of the crowd walked away with some memento of the day but we really didn’t care if we did, we were just happy to support Dave and Tia’s chosen charity, the Homicide Victims Support Group.

The day was recorded by photo and video by Grant Wignall, Billy Kriketos & Al Barron. Each of them will be producing various forms of media to present on the forums of Facebook, YouTube and the Bondi Longboard Club web page very soon, so stay tuned…

Around 1pm, after the 200-odd crowd enjoyed the heats and the food, they wandered down to the edge of the surf for a very moving statement about love, family and what the day meant from Dave Bryon, via the Lifeguard’s quad-bike mounted megaphone. And then we all tossed our floral tributes into the surf that Chloe loved so much and watched with a collective tear in our eye as Dave took his tribute out to deeper water, knowing he was saying a silent prayer to his beautiful daughter.

Returning back to the grass hill, the emotionally stirred crowd sat down to enjoy the men’s semi-final, followed by all of the finals. And while they were going on, Dave gave away some of the more treasured prizes to the people he thought were showing the Aloha Spirit during the day. And little Noah Fraser was just blown away when Dave presented him with his very first surfboard, a Sam Tehan thruster. And I watched with a smile as Noah waxed it up around near his DJ station and then place it in the board cover and then pull it out about 100 times, trying to convince himself he had won it. A beautiful moment!

The semi-finals were hotly contested with some sensational performances from the competitors and it just set the quality for the final.

At the presentation after the finals, Dave and Tia spoke of their love for their family and the hundreds of friends around them who supported them during this inspirational day, all in memory of their daughter Chloe. He spoke of the happiness he got from the looks on the faces of the young ones who will continue Chloe’s legacy in the surf. All of them will have another father out in the water at Bondi when they surf, believe me. Dave’s like that.

Each placegetter in each final received a show bag of goodies along with their magnificent trophy. Kevin Holt, the winner of the Men’s Open, presented his trophy back to the Byron Family, as he has done on previous occasions, as a sign of his respect he has for the day and the family.

Again, during the presentations, Dave took the opportunity to hand out even more surfboards for glowing displays of Aloha Spirit throughout the day to BLC member Donna Draper (an epoxy GST surfboard), Christie Bennett (a Sammy Tehan longboard), Maggie Cheung (an 8 footer from Dripping Wet), Miley Fraser (a Sammy Tehan shortboard) and Jemma Corner (a SoftTop surfboard).

The finale of the presentation ceremony was the moment Dave gave his beautiful wife Tia the cherished Aloha Spirit Award for the unending love and support she has given Dave during their lives together. A truly touching moment and well-deserved, Tia!

Then, Homicide Victims Support Group Executive Director, Martha Jabour, accompanied by Robert Taylor, described to us that the victims the charity supports were, quite often, children and that the funds raised on the day would be going to provide these kids a major gift at the charity’s yearly Christmas Party. And that gift is usually the only gift that some of these kids get for Christmas. A memory I will be recalling on December 25th, I’m sure.

The day wound up around 6pm after just on 12 hours of activity with everyone involved completely exhausted but feeling that feeling of Aloha that Dave and Tia spoke of and demonstrated throughout the day.

I would like to thank everyone who attended, Dave and Tia and the Byron Family, the McGuigan’s and all of the Bondi Longboard Club members, too many to mention individually without missing one or two, who gave up their time and energy to make the day run as smoothly as it did – you are all my brothers and sisters.

Paul Armstrong
Bondi Longboard Club 2012

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