Shameless self-promotion for a damn good cause
Bondi’s annual Surfaid Cup is a much-anticipated event on the surfing calendar. Last Friday, the world’s best competitors may have been waiting for Margaret River to recommence, but the real bragging rights were up for grabs at Bondi. Surfaid provides invaluable support to women and children in marginalised communities in Indonesia, Mexico, and The Solomon Islands. Various companies and organisation had spent months raising funds for the tag-team event, but on Friday it was time to pull on a singlet and fight for the most coveted trophy in surfing, The Surfaid Cup.
As competitors arrived at Bondi, twelve-fifteen foot sets hurtled around Benbuckler Point, which was doing a fair impersonation of the big, chubby lefts at Mainbreak Margarets. One competitor, Joel Pilgrim, waxed up the 8’6” and boldly slayed a couple of Benbuckler bombs before the event got underway. Fortunately, the three-foot reforms at North Bondi corner were more suitable for competition. There was an easy channel to paddle out in and a rippable, left peak that had some wondering why Bondi was not on the CT tour?
A number of pro surfers and accomplished locals had been recruited to compete as marquee surfers. Basically, the organisation that raises the most money gets the first pic from the pool of pro surfers. The Goodman Group were the clear winners on the Fund-Raising front, amassing an impressive $15, 820 to support Surfaid initiatives. They quickly swooped up former CT yellow-jersey wearer, Matt Wilkinson. As their power surfer, Wilko would have both his scoring waves doubled. A nostalgic Wilko was happy to be back in Bondi where he spent some of his finest years pin-balling from cafes to bars with his famous entourage. “As I drove into town I looked at all these places and thought, ‘I’ve had a good time there and there and there’,” he said with a chuckle. These days he has his own resort on the far North Coast of NSW and seems happier than ever.
Once the goodwill tag-team event was underway the friendly banter flowed thick and fast. Defending champions Fishbowl were eager to reclaim the title and had recruited an all-star team that included talented women’s pro, Holly Wawn. Local bookstore/café team Gertrude and Alice (G & A) were determined to show that baristas and bibliophiles can also belt lips. The G & A crew lined up against team Tracks in both their opening heat and the semi-final. Calling on their extensive literary knowledge and wordsmith skills they tossed a barrage of trash-talk at the Surf Mag hacks in an attempt to put them off their game. However, in the end, Tracks brushed aside the verbal barbs and twice overwhelmed them with stoic team performances. There was no doubt Tracks ( who also raised over $10 000) had assembled a worthy team: Sage ‘lipslugger’ Gubbay, Bill ‘the maestro’ Morris (who also photographed the event) ‘Mr Wonderful’ Beau Walker, Luke ‘Can Do’ Kennedy and Curt ‘classic lines’ Bate.
The finals came down to a torrid battle between Tracks and the defending champions Fish Bowl. To their credit Fish Bowl (and Porch Impala) had supplied lunch for the event and every surfer in the finals was fuelled by their tasty grindz. Fishbowl dashed to an early lead like a school of Barracuda on the hunt. However, team Tracks and their versatile outfit were able to haul them in, in the latter stages of the final. Curt Bate sealed the victory with a heroic anchorman performance. His last wave featured six, silky turns, scoring optimum points and landing him on the beach just inside the one-hour time limit.
Celebrations were held at the Bondi Public Bar where all the Tracks team (and a couple of the new owners) were on hand to hoist the most important trophy in surfing. Apologies it took a week to write this. We’ve been celebrating ever since. A massive thanks to Doug Lees and the Surfaid crew for hosting an incredible event.