Wednesday, August 31, 2011

National Alaia Title migrates South

Southsiders take franchise on new Alaia Australian Title

Cronulla-based surfer and more importantly, Sandshoes local, Matt ‘Cookie’ Cook almost pulled off a National Title last week when the first ever Alaia surfing champion was crowned at the 2011 Australian Surfing Festival in Port Macquarie on the mid-NSW North Coast.

Standing tall in Timberland; with their engineered organic lumber after the blue ribbon event:
the finalists in the inaugural Alaia National Titles. Including
Cronulla's Matty Cook [red rashie]
who managed a superb 2nd place in Port Macquarie.
First place went to Bondi's Barney Quinlan in the white rashie.
In an amazing era where pro surfers on the world tour now can score more points for maneuvers they perform in the air, [and not on the face of a wave] a growing group of enthusiastic surfers have propelled themselves back to surfing's most ancient wave riding roots.

Ian Bell of North Haven, NSW in sliding Alaia action.
Ian also won the Men's Single Fin National Title.
Photos Courtesy of Surfing Australia
Australian surfing history was cast in the surf at Port Macquarie last week, at the 2011 Australian Surfing Festival, where the first ever Australian Alaia champion was created and crowned.

Port's Town Beach provided the ideal arena for the maiden Alaia final, pumping out some great conditions for the traditional Hawaiian surfboards, almost fit for a king.

In the final, contested in clean 3ft waves, Bondi's Barney Quinlan etched [just couldn't save carved] his name in the record books, on his finless wooden form to trump runner-up, Matty Cook, of South Cronulla, [Sandshoes] NSW, and Ian Bell [North Haven, NSW], and Jarrad Davies [Margaret River, WA].

Bondi's Barney Quinlan holds aloft the first ever trophy
for Australian National Alaia Champion. While Cookie
[in red] is just stoked to be on the podium with 2nd place.
Barney Quinlan who competed in the final on a beautifully hand carved wooden Alaia, looked in sync with the traditional ancient art of surfing, which is finding its place in the Australian Surfing scene.

It seems this group of surfers are true, to use a cricketing term; 'all rounders' and very adaptive. Cookie normally rides long boards, short boards, single fins and Alaias.

The 5'10" Alaia that Cookie rode in the final, he lovingly hand tailored from Paulownia wood [an incredibly light hardwood] just the week before the contest and had never ridden the board prior to arriving in Port Macquarie.

Boosted by its new found popularity, Alaia surfing continues to grow in Australia and the addition to the 2011 Australian Surf Festival, sparked interest amongst spectators and competitors who witnessed the historical moment in Australian Surfing history.

Well done Cookie - holding the Cronulla flag high.


Watch a video with some highlights of the event...

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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Surfers in Vietnam during the Vietnam War

Surf City: A perspective of Surfing in the '50s, '60s and '70s.

The countdown is on to muster the nostalgia; we are now just one month away from the opening of the Surf City Exhibition

To capture and present these iconic times, Surf City's curator, Gary Crockett has been publishing some fantastic photos encompassing the era. Of particular interest are images captured during the Vietnam War ['62-'72] while Australian servicemen were taking R&R on 'Vungers' Beach [Vung Tau] in South Vietnam.

A 'friendly' Douglas A-1 Skyraider makes a high-speed, low
pass directly over US servicemen while they enjoy the
waves along Vung Tau Beach, South Vietnam in 1967.
Retired US Army Vietnam veteran Ron Sizemore contributed this amazing photo taken along the 'American stretch' of Back Beach, Vung Tau, and Ron wrote this from his home in the US:

"I took the picture in Dec of 1967 with a Pentax 35mm camera. Here is the story. The plane [I believe a Douglas A-1 Skyraider] had made one pass at that low altitude when I was coming out of the surf. I saw him on his way back toward us and I started running to the Lifeguard tower - because that is where my camera was.

The guy next to me hit the deck [sand] and I stayed on my way. I knew he was going to return for another pass. The second pass was a high one and the third was again low - right on the deck. It was my understanding that we, [the Yanks, Americans] had given the A-1's to the South Vietnamese and it was a friendly South Vietnamese pilot doing the flying. On his last pass he did a `victory roll' that I was unable to capture."
Vungers Beach in South Vietnam; an Australian serviceman on R&R
in Vietnam carries his Australian-made Gordon Woods surfboard
from the surf. Note the
rolled barbed wire lining the beach.

While many young Australians were enjoying the freedom of surfing their local beach at home, our nation had diggers deployed in Vietnam, putting themselves in harm's way to protect and serve our country.

Over 500 Australian servicemen lost their lives in Vietnam, and we had over 3,000 wounded.

We like to thank all those brave young Australian servicemen and women for their service and their sacrifice during the Vietnam Conflict.

We hope that any/all Vietnam veterans will get a chance to visit the Museum of Sydney and view the Exhibition. 

Both Vietnam images above are courtesy of the great Queensland website: Charlie Don't Surf - But Aussies Do'.

The Surf City Exhibition will be on at the Museum of Sydney from September 24th 2011 to March 17th, 2012.

Have a comment or something to add? - Email us at:

Question: Which current ASP Head Judge is also a current World Champion surfer? You'd be surprised. The answer here.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lady Gaga takes surfing lessons in Mexico

Hitting the waves; celebrities Lady Gaga and David Beckham...

Up and riding a new wave, Lady Gaga has taken to surf like a pro
this week in Puerto Vallarta,
Mexico taking her first surfing lessons.
Photos & Story from Pop Crush
Over the years there have been tons of celebrities that have hit the surf.

In what only could be considered another boost for surfing's world wide image, super star, the Monster Godess herself, Lady Gaga has gone 'Wax On' during her recent time off South of the Border.

While on vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the 25-year old pop star was spotted and photographed hitting the surf and taking her first surfing lessons.

According to the pop info website WENN, the native New Yorker, Gaga was given tips by a local pro and was a natural in taking to the new sport very quickly. While she wasn’t exactly sprining up to her feet and carving right off the bat, the ‘You and I’ singer was able to take small steps in getting up on a couple of waves.

A passerby told the Sun newspaper, “For a relative beginner she took to surfing really well. She started quite slowly learning how to bodyboard first and then she was able to work up to progress to standing up on a wave - she made excellent progress.”

David Beckham and his two sons hit the surf at Surfriders
Beach in Malibu,
California on their bodyboards.
Photos Courtesy of WENN
While not quite on a struggling surfer's budget; Gaga allegedly stayed in a $7,000-a-night hotel suite in her posh Mexico resort, while shelling out $240 for her personal surf lesson. The uber-fit star did properly ride a wave by the end, so it looks like it was worth every penny.

Gaga is set to perform at the iHeartRadio Music Festival at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Sept. 24. Four days later, she’ll open at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, where she’s nominated in four categories, including Best Female Video for ‘Born This Way.’

Meanwhile in California, another world-wide mega star, David Beckham was spotted hitting the Pacific Ocean surf on a bodyboard with his two sons, Brooklyn and Romeo, who also joined their famous Dad out on bodyboards.

Check my brand new blog; Swap Surf - a blog [as it grows] that will list, detail and report on Surf Swap meets, exhibitions, displays and any dry land surfboard events. Click Here

Something to add or say? E-mail us at:

Impressive Debut: To have a look at a series of still photos of Lady Gaga surfing in Mexico - hit play on the You Tube link below;

You might also like:
Surfing in Vietnam during the Vietnam War


Monday, August 15, 2011

Phuket Surf: 3rd Quiksilver Thailand Surf Competition 2011

Waves for Phuket surfing event could be hit or miss... but stay for the good times afterwards

Quiksilver Surf House opened this month in Patong.
To provide information and surf awareness for the
hoards of International beach goers and surfers
that visit Phuket annually.
I didn’t know to much about surfing on the island of Phuket in Southern Thailand before the airline I work for, Strategic Airlines, started flying there from the start of 2011. I have made some twenty trips there this year and I have started to get to know the place a little bit.

And yes; Phuket does get surf and does have waves. Certainly not anything like the quality, size and power of Bali, but as all surfers know, anywhere where to ocean meets the land and waves can form and break - surfers will be out there trying to ride and conquer them.

With Andaman Sea water temps consistently around 27°C [80°F], crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches - Phuket's beach and reef conditions are as near perfect as any tropical island resort or surf location anywhere in the world.

Next month in September 2011, the island of Phuket will host the 2011 Quiksilver Thailand Surf Competition. There are already more than 100 surfers registered for the competition. Overall, about 300 surfers are expected to compete in the event which include four classes: long board, short board, women and masters [for surfers over 35 years old].

Surfers will be winging their way into Phuket from many countries: USA, Australia, South Africa, Japan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore. These visitors will help boost the local economy during the low season.

Local Surf Shop owner and Phuket's resident surf guru, Rick Gamble of Saltwater Dreaming in Surin Beach,
into a backside move to get around a crumbling section of foam at Kamala Beach in Phuket.
Photo: Neil Armstong Moonwalker Photos
Phuket surfing culture got a boost this month with a major retailer opening a 'surfing promotional center' at Jungceylon shopping mall in Patong Beach.

Quicksilver Surf House opened to promote the upcoming Quiksilver Thailand Surf Competition 2011 and to grow Phuket’s surfing culture, Quiksilver Retail [Thailand] Ltd General Manager Surached Mungthong said. “I would like to help expand the surfing community in Phuket and enable more tourists to experience surfing here. Surf House staff will suggest places and times to surf, as well as help beginners join a surf school in Patong,” Mr Surached said.

Staff will also give out information about the 3rd Quiksilver Thailand Surf Competition 2011 to be held in Patong from September 21-24 in front of Phuket Graceland resort.

This year, the event will become one of six ranked competitions in the ASEAN Surfing Championship held in Thailand, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia and Malaysia. The event will also include a “surfing festival” with fashion, music and sports activities.

Local staff man the new Quiksilver Surf House in
Patong's busy Jungceylon
Shopping Centre.
“This year we are holding the competition in Patong Beach because I would like to send out the message that you can surf at any beach in Phuket, not only at Kata Beach,” Mr Surached said.

“I would also like to have more people take part in the fun activities like a surf show by a famous international surfer, surf clinic and games on the beach. On the last night, we will have a live concert on the beach,” he said.

Quiksilver will also co-operate with the Phuket Marine and Coastal Resources Conservation Center to organize a sea grass planting event for the surfers near Pa Khlok.

To register for the competition or for more information, visit: Quiksilver Thailand and Thailand Surf Rider Magazine and Thailand Surfing Organisation.

The Surf House is on the ground floor of Jungceylon near the entrance to Silang Blvd Hall and will be open until the end of September.

For great airfares to Phuket from Brisbane and Melbourne check Strategic Airlines

For Surfing information on Phuket I can highly recommend the experts on surf spots, equipment, surfing lessons, board hire or anything surf; you must check Saltwater Dreaming in Surin Beach. Click on the banner below for SWD's On-line Surf Shop and where ex-pat Aussie Rick Gamble is owner/operator.

Something to add or say? E-mail us on

To check out our new Surf Swap blog Click Here


Friday, August 12, 2011

Exhibition: Legend Bobby Brown - the Edge of Glory

The starlit wave is still, home is the surfer, home from the sea...

Bobby Brown in the North Cronulla
shorebreak in '62. Photo: Bob Weeks 
[Click to enlarge]

After successfully touring the East Coast from the Noosa Festival of Surfing earlier in the year, down to Victoria for the 50th Anniversary of the Bells Beach Easter Pro Surfing event, the exquisitely put together Bobby Brown Exhibition is coming to Bobby Brown's spiritual home in Sydney's South - in the Sutherland Shire.

The Exhibition will be on display in the showroom of Jackson Surfboards in Caringbah for just 10 days. From Saturday September 10th until Sunday September 18th, 2011.

The Exhibition forms part of the Jackson Surfboard’s “living history” philosophy, which works to bring to life the sights, sounds and people who made history in the early days of surfing, surfboards and the golden age of Australian beach culture.

I was on the Gold Coast 10 months ago for the opening night of the Bobby Brown Exhibition at the Surf World Gold Coast Surf Museum in November 2010. To view my original report of that launch night and my summary of the exhibition click here.

The Exhibition is meticulously put together by its Gold Coast-based curator, former pro-surfer, Andrew McKinnon. As a 16-year old surfer back in 1970, Andrew was the last winner of the third and final Bobby Brown Memorial Surfing Contest held on the beaches of Cronulla.

Rabbit co-MC'ed the opening
night at Surf World
on the Gold
Coast last November.
Photo: Core
As an extension of all his research into Bobby Brown’s history, and inspired by the depth and expanse of the story, Andrew is currently working on a book that will encapsulate the life and times of Bobby Brown - surfing legend.

If you want have a look at a nice clip of the Exhibition you can see the clip that was posted on the Coastalwatch website by clicking here.

This showcasing at Jacksons will be the last public display of this collective for some time, so if you are from any part of Sydney, or for that matter, anywhere in NSW, you might want to plan a trip to Sydney's South side over this 10-day period to check the exhibition being held in one of the very surf establishments in which Bobby Brown spent the early part of his surfing career.

At the Gold Coast launch, Cronulla
surfing identities, Steve Core [left]
and guest
speaker Gary Birdsall.
Photo: Terry Baker
So mark it in your diary or stick a post-it note on the fridge. On Saturday 10th of September there will be an official launch function, kicking off at 1:00pm ,with a free sausage sizzle. Special guests will be Bobby's brother; John Brown and pioneer surf photographer and publisher of Surfabout Magazine, Jack Eden.

Next year, Jackson Surfboards will celebrate their 55th year in the business and they have been in the same location for the past 48 years. That was long before Mick Fanningg was even born! That's some history in this young sport of ours.

Check on-line at: Jackson Surfboards
or the Jackson Surfboards Facebook site

Or have a look at the Bobby Brown Surfing Legend website.

Check out my new blog on Surf Exhibitions, Forms, Swap meets and dry land surfboards events. Called Swap Surf Click right here to see it.

Something to say or add? E-mail us at


Friday, August 5, 2011

Ex-Cronulla surfer takes World Surfing Title

How a surf judge perfectionist, who painstakingly agonises over every ride, became an unlikely specimen World Champion...

Ex-Cronulla Kiwi surfer, currently New Zealand's top world-rated, European based ASP Head surfing judge, Iain Buchanan dusted off his competitive prowess again in taking on the living super legends of the sport - to poach the World Grand Masters Championships crown in Brazil this week. Rendering himself the first Kiwi to claim the title.

There has been a long standing stigma about surf judges, a belief in some critical corners that they may not know enough about wave riding's intricacies. Iain has beautifully interwoven the harmonies of riding a wave with the requirements of interpretive judging skills, breaking any disconnect that may have been layered between the two pursuits. Iain's soaring victory in Brazil, creating surfing history, will instantly end such idle chatter from any self-styled experts. 

Leaving his Winter base home of Biarritz, France, Buchanan was over the moon to be even invited to the prestigious event. The World Masters invitees compose up 16 of the most iconic surfers this planet has ever produced. In the final, Iain defeated renowned robust competitor and former World Title holder, Queenslander, Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew.

Ex-Cronulla Kiwi, Iain 'Ratso' Buchanan raises the spoils of his victory in the ASP's World Grand
Masters Championships
in Arpoador, Ipanema, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil this past week.
'Ratso' also picked  up a check for $25,000 for his awesome efforts. Photo courtesy of ASP

A retired ASP Pro-Tour surfer himself, Buchanan needed to switch hats and transfer his vast accumulated judging experience back into the water at this event to come away with a good result, something he was confident in doing.

"I've been judging the best surfing in the world for the past few years, so I think I know what the judges are looking for. But all the guys I was up against are hardened veterans and truly seasoned competitors, and they know how to win heats and indeed they have all won major contests and world titles. It was very competitive for sure."

Shaun Tomson (ZAF), aged 55, a quarter-fianl
victim to Iain Buchanan in Arpoador, Ipanema.
Photo C
redit: © ASP / CESTARI
In a spectacular start to the man-on-man section of the event, Iain took out former World Champion, South African, Shaun Tomson in his first quarter final. Tomson also was returning to competitive surfing after a multi-year hiatus in retirement.

Iain then accounted for Aussie legend Glen Winton. While Rabbit knocked out Thruster Inventor - Simon Anderson in the other semi-final to reach the Grand Final. All these surfing legends help revolutionise surfing in the '70s and '80s.

"I was originally the head judge for the event," Buchanan said. "But some invitees couldn't make it, and I was next on the list, so the ASP asked if I wanted to compete."

Ironically, it was the first time Buchanan had entered a serious competition as a competitor since the 2003 New Zealand championships in Dunedin, where he won the over-35 and over-40 divisions.

Five time New Zealand Champion, Iain Buchanan
on his way to victory at Arpoador, Ipanema, Brazil
Photo Credit: © ASP / CESTARI
The waves at Arpoador, are mostly beach breaks, but predominantly a fast breaking lefthander, suited Buchanan who spends most of his time surfing the Piha bar at the south end of Piha beach, during his New Zealand summer breaks when he comes home from Europe.

"I'm hoping they'll ask me to judge (next year)," Buchanan said. "That's what I was originally going to do. When ASP's Al Hunt and Head Tour Judge, Richie Porta talked me into surfing, and I'm glad I did. I'm happy to get the spot I did, but there will be other guys that qualify next year, and I'd love to judge".

What a great result and story. Iain rocks up to Brazil thinking he's going to judge the world's best surfing legends in a Masters event. But instead he transposed his role, took to the water and became a competitor. Along the way he steam-rolled over some ex-World Champions and ended up taking the first place trophy in the event!

So he's a Current World Grand Masters surfing champion and a current ASP head Surfing Judge - what a combination. That unique 'double' has never been achieved previously by anyone. So from everyone in Cronulla; - your life long dream of becoming a World Champion as been realised - well done Ratso! We are proud of you mate [and he is an old mate].
© Steve Core

To read Iain's more than 10 year history in Cronulla, including working behind the counter at Mark Aprilovic's Cronulla Surf Design and shaping at Gordon and Smith Click here

Check my brand new blog; Swap Surf - a blog [as it grows] that will list, detail and report on Surf Swap meets, exhibitions, displays and any dry land surfboard events. Click Here

Something to add or say? E-mail us at:

Watch some Grand Masters, Brazil highlights below on You Tube...