Wrecks are back in town

Good ole gals at the Wrecks.

I can’t quite believe it but Noosa Malibu Club’s Wrecks and Relics deadly serious surf comp for the over 50s is itself turning 18 this weekend.

How old that makes the pioneers of this great little event I shudder to think, but I wasn’t one of them. In fact I don’t think I made it along to the party until 2008 or ’09, but I haven’t missed one since, until now. (When you read this, I’ll be quietly having my own little contest against the Russian newbie wave hogs at Batu Balong or Pererenan River Mouth, and no doubt more about that next week).

But I’m bummed to be missing this event. So much fun over the many years, and in the old-fashioned way of club comps in times gone by – just a tent on the beach with a battery megaphone and heat-starter horn (if you’re lucky), a marshal with the coloured jerseys at one end and a sausage sizzle at the other, and a few competitors squinting into the morning sun judging the heat before the heat before theirs.

Oh, and if you look closely enough you might find an Esky or two of chilled beverages for the last couple of heats of the day.

The simplicity speaks of a light-hearted approach to competitive surfing, but in fact, when the competitors are a bunch of guys and gals who have been clashing in contests for half a century or more, and there are plenty of old grudges to reheat, it can sometimes get quite intense out in the lineup. But nothing that can’t be sorted out with a hug and a beer or two later on the beach.

Ah, Wrecks and Relics, I’ll miss you this year, but I’ve dug up a few old shots from the archive to keep the spirit alive. And if you’re interested in checking out some serious seniors surfing, venues are First Point, Noosa West Beach or Castaways, depending on conditions.

Go for gold, Mono

As I write, my good mate Mark Mono Stewart is competing at Queens, Waikiki in the Hawaiian Adaptive Surfing Championships, which marks the start of the Inaugural Adaptive Surfing World Professional Surfing Tour, and I think he’s wrapped it up.

After a perfect 10 and combo-ing the field in the semis, he would be odds-on to claim the title to add to his cluttered shelf of trophies which includes a bunch of world championships, but right now that’s to be confirmed.

As I’ve noted in this space before, the one-legged kneeboarder from Byron Bay is truly the GOAT of adaptive surfing, an inspirational human being whose contribution to surfing was recognized at the Surfing Australia Awards on the Gold Coast last month when he was made the inaugural Adaptive Surfer of the Year.

Unable to make the awards night, I contacted Mono with my congratulations and his response made me realise again just what a champion this bloke is.

Late last year when he was on his way to winning yet another world title at Pismo Beach, California, Mono noticed a small but growing cyst on his chest.

A guy who spent a year in hospital as a teenager after losing his leg to cancer is pretty much afraid of nothing, so he didn’t even mention it when he came up to Noosa to surf the January run of swells with me, but it was the beginning of a long period of uncertainty, from which he has only just emerged triumphant.

I was so stoked to hear that he was off to Hawaii with lovely wife Deb, chasing another title just weeks after yet another brush with mortality.

Long may you reign, Mono, and give ‘em hell at Queens!

Vale Dick Brewer

Legendary surfboard shaper Dick Brewer died peacefully at home on the garden isle of Kauai late last month, after a long illness, wife Sherry and close family and friends at his bedside. He was 85.

Tributes popped up everywhere on social media, including many from the great surfers whose paths through life and tracks on waves he influenced.

Wrote 160s and ‘70s champion Jeff Hakman: “Dick Brewer, there is nobody I owe more to for getting me started in big waves on the North Shore than you. You were kind and generous and a real visionary! Your boards were by far the best, and in a class of their own in those early years. I’m fortunate to have known you and to have been your friend.“

“He was the guru, the man on the mountain, the shaper everybody knelt down before. Figuratively, mostly, but I think maybe literally too!” wrote surf historian Matt Warshaw.

“Incredible guns, just Sabrejet-level equipment for North Shore surfers in the ’60s and ’70s.”

Brewer’s defining legacy will be the beautifully clean lines of his early shortboard gun shapes for surfers like Hakman, Gerry Lopez and Reno Abellira.

A Brewer gun “in mint condition” has always been a collector’s dream.

But Dick was also involved in a long-term difference of opinion with Australia’s Bob McTavish about who did what in the shortboard revolution, an argument that was resolved in 2010 with the release of the movie Going Vertical, and Brewer and McTavish sharing a conciliatory hug on stage at the Noosa Festival of Surfing.

I last saw Dick and Sherry at a dinner party in the hills above Honolulu in 2015. The elder statesman was resplendent in aloha shirt and several strings of leis, and we talked story for an hour or more.

Cantankerous at times, Dick could also be great company, and I’m glad that’s my lasting memory of him.