Surf Festival Makes Waves in Manly

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Life is better when you surf. Anyone who has managed to catch a wave, however bereft of skill and talent they are, will swear by those sentiments. And there were plenty of disciples at Manly Beach for the opening ceremony of the Manly Festival of Surfing on Thursday November 18. The opening addresses ushered in four days of must see/must do festivities in what was a poignant celebration for those who venture into Huey’s tempestuous playground armed with fibreglass missile.

Andy Irons’ untimely and tragic passing still echoes loudly among surf communities all over the world, as it should. Three world titles in an era where Kelly Slater was at his peak makes AI an all-time great, and the address by former pro Richie Lovett was a touching reminder of how much the sport has lost.

It was then left to Mark Kelly of the festival’s major sponsor Global Surf Industries to make things official. He led a pack of wavehounds young and old into the ocean to form a circle “out the back”, not only to honour Andy but create a ritualistic bond among the community’s surfers before getting on with festival fun.

Shortly before, North Steyne surfer Blake Lovett showed it is actually possible for you to completely schralp even in mushy one and two foot slop. Well, he showed it is possible for him, I won’t kid myself. Two 360’s and an encore aerial 360 in those conditions?? Madness. Blake took out Global Surf Industries (GSI) One Design Contest which was open for surfers of any level, the stipulation being each contestant must ride the same competition-supplied board – the Aloha Bean.

Then it was off to Salmotion Gallery/Cafe to see the legendary Rusty Miller’s first ever photographic exhibition. Rusty’s photos, mostly never seen before, document two seminal times: the 1970 World Surfing Championship at Bells Beach, and the following migration of surfers to the Byron Bay/Lennox region that evolved into the north coast surfing lifestyle.

Manly Festival of Surfing? Life is better when you surf, or be amongst it in some way.