Surfboard riding clubs in the shire sprang up everywhere during the 1960s following the split of boardriders from the surf clubs.
The first was Cronulla and its female counterpart, the Cronulla Wahines, followed over the next decade by St George, Eastern States and Wanda Beach Boardriders.
Many of these clubs didn’t last very long but the renaissance of modern club surfing really began with the Midway club. When this club folded Cronulla Sharks Boardriders was reborn from the foam dust of Gordon and Smith Surfboards in 1978.
Ostensibly a vehicle for their young sponsored surfers like Mark Occhilupo, Richard James and Michael Mackie it was the first boardriders club to really stand the test of time.
Boardriders clubs have existed for decades in Australia with no real government, council or surf club support. It is a true grassroots sport – Cronulla’s first presentation in 1978 was in the lifeguard tractor shed at Wanda.
With surfing being included in the 2020 Olympic Games this is all starting to change with state and national bodies growing a groundswell of backing.
Cronulla was formed as a competitive outlet and it has gone on to have the most local competitive success.
There was a golden period for Cronulla in the 90’s with three straight NSW titles, winning the national surf team title in 1990 and finishing runner-up in the Australian Surf League in 1993.
Victory followed in the inaugural Sydney surfing premiership with a team of juniors which showed the club’s depth with four surfers at the one time on the world tour.
1999 world surfing champion Mark Occhilupo, Gary Green, Richard ‘Dog’ Marsh and Ian ‘Ratso’ Buchanan all competed together on tour with club junior champion Jake Spooner and Todd Prestage following them.
Kirk Flintoff was the last qualifier in 2005 and the club now has a big junior division led by champion Jay Brown who are the future stars trying to get to the holy grail of surfing.
Cronulla was also a groundbreaker for female surfers with 20 years of women's champions led by Lindsay Noyce, Rachel Campbell and Paris Whittaker.
Boardriding clubs are more than competition with club member Luke Madden the current CEO of Surfing NSW and former club champion Andrew King the former Surfing Australia head coach.
Cronulla was once the shire’s only club in 1978 and, in a sign of the times, there are now a dozen surf-based organisations in the area looking after the community interests.
Christmas is upon us and the waves at Cronulla have been fair to middling at best.There has been some swell over the weekend and at last there are a couple of banks up the beach so the crowds can spread out a little.
I took todays pic at the Alley in a small 2ft east swell and yesterday when there was still a nice little South swell at Wanda.
The Swellnet prediction doesn't look too promising with a tricky week ahead, it says best today? with a NE windswell with sets around the 3ft + with early Nor West winds-that didn't happen!
A Southerly change early Thursday will deliver poor wind conditions but the low will generate some inconsistent, long period groundswell for Friday and Saturday (3ft+)
Merry Christmas and Happy onshores!
Hawaiian John John Florence clinched the 2017 World Surf League Title yesterday at the Billabong Pipe Masters, making him the first male surfer since the late Andy Irons (HAW) to successfully defend a maiden world title (Irons was ’02, ’03). Mark Richards (AUS), Tom Carroll (AUS) and Tom Curren (USA) are the only other male surfers to have achieved this feat.
“It’s been my dream to win here at home,” Florence said. “There’s been a nervous build up to this event and I just don’t know what to say, I’m shaking. So many people have been here for me this year and it’s been awesome. It’s been an awesome year and I’m just so stoked.”
John John only won one contest this year which left it to go right to the last heat.
Jeremy Flores (FRA) claimed his second Billabong Pipe Masters victory after defeating Florence in the Final. Flores, the 2010 Pipe Master, took out Kanoa Igarashi (USA) and Gabriel Medina (BRA) en route to the Final against the new WSL Champion.
In an unbelievable result Connor O’Leary (see separate story) finished the year in 13th position the third best result EVER for a Cronulla surfer-with 29,950 points and $171,500 in prize money!
Dog Marsh finished in eighth and obviously Occy finished first in 1999 ,Greeny and Banksy both finished in 16th position with Jim Banks maybe also finishing 13th-I will have to check.
The world's best surfers will return in 2018 with the kick-off event on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia in March.