Byron Surf Festival 2011
The sky opened her arms to welcome the first ever Byron Bay Surf Festival this weekend, two and a half days of full paced fun showcasing the best of old and new Aussie surf culture.
Kicking off on Friday night at the Stone & Wood brewery, Bob McTavish officially opened the festival with a historical slide show and comical yarn about Byron’s early days followed by a brief talk about shaping and his tools of the trade.
Having first come to Byron Bay 50 years ago, Bob’s collection of tales and old photos indented smiles on the original Byron crew and admirable grins from the current youth especially his mention to the unchanged Byron Bay lock-up and past arrests.
Although it was advertised that he would be doing a live shaping session, Bob blew off that idea and instead chose to show and unfinished board.
“Did you hear on the radio I was supposed to shape a board tonight? Well forget it!” laughed Bob as he went on to expose the truths about shaping’s ‘dirty’ side announcing it’s a “filthy business” whilst accenting a more serious connection between shaping, art and creativity.
With a background hum of beer brewing in big shiny kegs, a solid gathering of laid back surfers threw back cold ales as the balmy night petered on. The main stage was then host to the psychedelic surf rock sounds of Haldanes Daughters featuring shaper/surfer Neil Purchase Jnr.
Workshops, talks and exhibitions were on show in town throughout the day Saturday. The usually busy Top Shop was pumping with art and photography on show featuring works by local legend George Greenough, Matty Yates and Justin Crawford.
Meanwhile, at the Byron Bay Community Centre the Gold Coast Surf World Museum put on a timeless display of vintage surfboards and historical memorabilia headed by Kirra legend Mal Sutherland.
Next door talks were run all afternoon covering topics like surf fitness, yoga and pilates, breath control for surfing and how to build your own wooden surfboard whilst at the Youth Centre the stART me up Art Exhibition for Kids was crankin’ for the groms.
Railway park put on an eclectic array of surf orientated market stalls, health food and live music and just down the road at Retrospect Galleries the Surf Culture Now Art Show was running all weekend hosting the works of Alby Falzon, Andrew Kidman, event organizer James McMillan, Rusty Miller and more.
The Community Centre’s Centre Theatre was the place to be on Saturday night with an intimate performance melding live music and film by Andrew Kidman and the Windy Hills plus a special screening of Taylor Steele’s short film A Tribute to Andy Irons. Ears and eyes were charmed by Kidman’s magic in both melody and optical wonderness.
The night capped off with Dick Hoole’s film and commentary segment over at Woody’s Surf Shack and live music by The Grains fresh off their east coast tour.
On Sunday the early bird caught the best carparks with Wategoes Beach presenting the first ever Byron Bay Surf Festival Surf Swap Meet, where age, gender and style of surfing were fused together in an awesome gathering of smooth surf culture. Exhibiting an impressive variety of surf craft and design were six of Australia’s finest shapers; sultan of the wooden sleds Tom Wegener, the ever experimental Sage Joske, Morning of the Earth Surfboards’ Simon Jones, the one and only MP (unfortunately he didn’t make it to the festival but it was lovely to see his mum come down and give her support), talented artist and shaper Simon Skerry, Mr Cool Thomas Bexon and Astro Surfboard’s Gary Burden.
Small waves did not deter the masses, blown away with a special series of surf jams featuring special guests Johnny Abegg, Sage Joske, Thomas Bexon, Tom Wegener, Danny Wills, Brett Caller, James McMillan and more, with an epic Tandem Surfing exhibition with world renowned Fred and Lily Branger wrapping up the surf leg of the festival with grace and style. The Byron Malibu Club were stoked they sold out of snags on the BBQ, and all their proceeds go to help out local projects and organisations.
Finally crew still standing after a blockbuster weekend of surf culture were treated with Dan Hannaford’s tunes as part of the closing ceremony at The Pass Café. Festival organisers Vanessa Thompson, James McMillan and Mike Jahn were totally stoked with the outcome and we hope they are ready to start planning next year’s event already!
Thanks to everyone who supported the festival and we look forward to it becoming an annual event.
The Byron Bay Surf Festival Official Website: http://www.byronbaysurffestival.com