By Abbey Cannan
Master surfboard shaper Tom Wegener spent the day teaching American students from the University of Wyoming to surf at Noosa Main Beach on Tuesday 4 June.
The surfing session was part of a Surfing and Sustainability day where the students learnt about the Noosa Surfing Reserve, how to find the perfect wave, about the local surf culture, surfboard design and history.
The group of students are spending three weeks visiting the Sunshine Coast and attending the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), as part of the University of Wyoming ‘Human and Physical Landscapes of South East Queensland’ course.
USC Senior Research Fellow in Geography, Dr Tristan Pearce said he worked with Tom Wegener to bring surfing into university courses.
“I get to work on all sorts of issues of global sustainability and I found that surfing is just one of the vehicles to learn about this. He (Tom) just completed his PHD in the sustainability of surfing industry. How good is that? He’s the recipient of the Word Surf Board Shaper of the Year and he continues to push the limits with surf board making,” Dr Pearce said.Tom was born right in the centre of surfing in California, where he became enthralled with shaping boards. Eventually, he moved to Noosa Heads where he started making his traditional style longboards.
Tom said that as a surfboard designer, he has his own place in the surfing world which is an overall very friendly and fun place to be.
“The surf is just perfect here (in Noosa). There’s five right points here, whereas in California there’s Malibu with one right point and all of Los Angeles County, which is the entire population of Australia, would just try to push their way into surf. In Noosa, there’s five Malibu’s. Then there’s the attitude and the relaxation of the Australian surf culture… the attitude is you come and you have a barbecue on the beach. You can see the respect they have for the ocean. There’s parks along the front of the beach and the river here, which is something we don’t have, especially on the East Coast of the United States,” Tom said.
“You look at this beautiful headland here and there’s no houses on it. Of course, if that was America there would be a gate right there with big giant mansions that are empty except for two weeks of the year. The reason Noosa is like it is today is because of the hard working action by the community to keep the developers at bay.”
Tom said that he hoped the Wyoming students would get to feel the energy of the ocean during their lesson.
“There is nothing more beautiful than the smile of someone when they catch their first wave and I’m hoping to see that a few times today,” he said.
“There’s so much more to surfing than surfing big waves and being strong and having tattoos and winning contests. Surfing has been around as long as humans have been around.”