Kirra leads Surf Reserve

Kirra Molnar. Photo Rob Maccoll.

By Phil Jarratt

The last time Noosa Today profiled local surf coach and champion longboarder Kirra Molnar, we called her “the busiest beach bum” in town.

Well, a year on, Kirra, now 28, has upped the ante on that call by taking on the presidency of the Noosa World Surfing Reserve, becoming the first female president of any of the 10 World Surfing Reserves. Kirra was elected unopposed at the recent annual general meeting of the stewardship council of the Noosa Reserve, putting her right in the firing line as the not-for-profit organisation enters the second phase of its mission to secure Noosa’s world class surfing assets for the future.

Since its dedication as a World Surfing Reserve in February 2020 – the third in Australia after Manly-Freshwater and Southern Gold Coast, and 10th in the world – the NWSR has instigated a multi-media program to promote safer and more sustainable surfing practices within the world class and very popular five point breaks and four beach breaks of the reserve, worked with local and state government to create new levels of protection for the surfing coastline, and with Noosa Surf Club and Queensland Parks and Wildlife to install life-saving defibrillator stations throughout the reserve.

And the work is only beginning. As Kirra told Noosa Today this week: “After a year on the stewardship council learning the ropes, I’m excited to take on this new role and continue to preserve the waves, environment and culture of the NWSR. In the coming year we are looking to conclude the defibrillator program with the further installment of two more defibrillators, create a multi-media awareness program so that everyone knows where they are located, and work with Council and other surfing stakeholders to complete surf code signage within the reserve.

“I would like to see the stewardship council preserve the environment and surroundings of the NWSR into the future, to develop and implement strategies that bring surfers together and minimise conflict between different users of the reserve, so that together we can tackle the challenges that come with the inevitable growth of the surfing population.”

Like a lot of talented surfers who grow up in Noosa, Kirra was conflicted about whether to follow the longboard or shortboard path. Her dad, former Noosa hotelier Steve Molnar, got her out on a foamie from the age of six, and she soon graduated into shortboards. The deal was nearly sealed when the family moved to Fiji when she was 13 while Steve worked at the Sheraton Denerau. With easy access to some of the world’s best reef waves surrounding Namotu and Tavarua Islands, her surfing ability progressed quickly, especially after surfing the legendary Cloudbreak at more than twice her height before she’d turned 14.

But on their return to Noosa, Kirra found she didn’t really enjoy competing on a shortboard, while she loved the family feeling of the longboard community. She says: “It started out with just dragging the longboard out to compete with all my schoolmates in the Noosa Festival of Surfing, and kind of developed from there. But it’s only been in the past five or six years or so that longboarding took over.”

After graduating from St Andrews, Kirra took a double degree in sports and exercise science and business management at USC, spending part of her last semester doing work experience with the Tropicsurf surf travel company, where she got to know surf legend Dean Brady and former Brisbane Lion Jarryd Bates, who were just setting up the Pro Movement training studio, where she still works part-time.

Kirra says: “I am currently still running my own Surfing Queensland coaching business and also work under contract coaching with a few school surfing programs, including St Andrews and Sunshine Beach High. I’ve recently been employed as the Noosa Heads SLSC surf coach, implementing a program for club members in preparation for State and Aussie titles.

“My degree in Sports and Exercise Science (Sports Management) led me to become a trainer at the Pro Movement studio and you’ll find me there on a Thursday night running the strength and mobility class, as well as personalised training sessions during the week.

I also work with a couple of clients and athletes from different disciplines doing online programming under my business, Your Move Space, which I developed during Covid lockdown last year.”

When Kirra was being pressed to nominate for the NWSR presidency, she stipulated that if the opportunity arose for her to compete again on the WSL longboard tour, she would have to seek leave of absence. Given the fact that this hugely talented surfer has already proven herself on the world stage, and would be a perfect travelling ambassador for the Noosa Reserve, the stewardship council had no hesitation in agreeing.

For now, however, she is focused on establishing herself as the president of the NWSR, with her first public outing in that role coming up at the 2 November Noosa Biosphere Awards, where NWSR is a finalist in the Water category. And she has a great local family support base in surfing mum Kim and her partner, surfing photographer Ian Borland.

Global CEO of World Surfing Reserves and the Save The Waves Coalition, Santa Cruz-based Nik Strong Cvetich told Noosa Today: “The founding president set an incredibly high bar at Noosa WSR, but we have all the faith in the world that Kirra Molnar will take the NWSR to the next level. Kirra has a unique set of skills and experience from her pro surfing career, leadership experience and real knowledge of the needs of the Noosa community as a long-time local. We look forward to working with her and continuing to support the Noosa Word Surfing Reserve.”