Community Surf Awards

Justine Bath’s award-winning moody shot of the last waves of the day on the point.

Senior surfer extraordinaire Peppie Simpson was the worthy winner of the coveted Respect Award (in memory of Bill Wallace) at last Saturday’s Noosa World Surfing Reserve Community Surf Awards at the Boiling Pot Brewery.

When she’s not shredding waves, winning senior comps or communing with whales and dolphins, waterwoman Peppie can be found teaching groms to swim. She epitomises the qualities of a community-minded surfer, and was a popular winner.

Making its debut at this year’s awards was the Pot’s Cooking Award for best wave ridden at the Boiling Pot, sponsored by, you guessed it, hosts Boiling Pot Brewing Co. Talented ranga Nic Brewer took out the trophy and $2000 for an incredibly deep barrel superbly threaded and captured on video by Rainbow Cat.

Other award winners:

– Senior Female Community Surfer of the Year: Kelly Carthy.

– Senior Male Community Surfer of the year: Max Pettigrove.

– Junior Female Community Surfer of the Year: Larita Monroe.

– Junior Male Community Surfer of the Year: Landen Smales.

– Outstanding photography: Justine Bath.

– Videographer of the year: Lewis Van Roon.

– Environmental Award: Javier Leon.

– Cultural Award: Waves of Wellness.

– Industry award: Nick Van der Merwe and Golden Breed.

– People’s Choice Community Spirit Award: Luke Hutchinson.

All Community Surf Award winners received a beautiful framed Paul Smith surf photo, courtesy of Paul Smith Images.


Two greats of the surfing world reached milestones last week, one happily with champion surfer Jeff Hakman attaining three quarters of a century, and one sadly, with the passing of surf life saving patron and publishing legend Kevin Weldon passing away just short of his 90th birthday.

Jeff rode big Waimea at 12 and won the Duke Kahanamoku comp at Sunset Beach at 16. He was the surfer’s surfer, pushing unbelievable power turns out of his short, muscular frame, and in the pre-professional years of the early 1970s, he was widely regarded as the best surfer in the world. Jeff went on to win his share of pro contests but gave the tour away in 1976 when he secured a license to set up the Quiksilver brand in the USA, from which base it went on to dominate the global surf industry for decades.

Although he was one of the founding partners of Quiksilver Europe, he didn’t go along for the whole billion dollar ride, falling into drug addiction through the ‘80s. I’d been a friend in his early pro days, and Jeff and I bonded again in the ‘90s when I wrote his redemption story in a book called Mr Sunset, and we toured the world at Quiksilver’s expense to promote it. We then spent some wonderful years based in France heading up the brand’s European marketing programs.

After years back in Hawaii, Jeff these days divides his time between a home in France and the island of Rote off West Timor, where he helps old mate and former world champ Felipe Pomar run a program for senior surfers called Surf Till 100. And they both probably will!

Happy 75th, old mate.

On a sad note, big Kev Weldon, a dual legend of life saving and book publishing and one of the nicest blokes you could ever meet, succumbed to cancer after a long and courageous fight.

The founding president of the International Life Saving Federation (ILS) in 1993, Kev was also responsible for introducing the surf life saving culture to Bali, where he had a beautiful traditional home in the hills of Ubud. Noticing the huge increase of tourists surfing and body-surfing at Kuta Beach after the international airport opened in 1969, Kev, by then president of an earlier incarnation of a world life saving body, used his influence and charm to set up visits by trained lifeguards to teach the skills to locals. God knows how many lives this initiative has saved over the following half-century, and life saving remained an ongoing passion right up to his death, working on cutting edge drone programs for surf club use. In 1994 Kev became a member of the Order of Australia, honouring his contributions to surf life saving and philanthropy.

Born in Ingham, Queensland in 1933, Kev and his family moved to Bisbane at the outbreak of war and soon after became a surf club junior member. His first job was as a colour etcher at Brisbane’s Truth newspaper, and by 1964 he was appointed managing director of the Paul Hamlyn Publishing Group when it established a branch in Australia. Kev started changing the rules of engagement for publishers, setting up huge sales in supermarkets and department stores where none had gone before.

In 1980 he founded Kevin Weldon and Associates, operating from a stone cottage overlooking Sydney Harbour, from which vantage point he oversaw the publication of groundbreaking books like A Day in the Life of Australia, Macquarie Dictionary, Australia the Beautiful Cookbook and The Bradman Albums. A lesser known work called Aussie: Australians at Play, which nevertheless sold like stink in department stores for years, was this writer’s introduction to the great man. The late photographer Rennie Ellis and I then convinced Kev to give us a $30K advance so we could take our young families to Bali for a couple of months and produce a long-forgotten book called Bali For Kids. By 1985, the company had grown into Weldon International, which by 1990 made up 55 per cent of Australia’s total book exports.

It was my great pleasure to work with Kev again, albeit indirectly, over the last year of his life, editing former sports and tourism minister John Brown’s autobiography.

My abiding memory of him will be laughing uncontrollably at the image of half his nose and one furry eyebrow as he and Brownie (92) struggled with the technological challenges of a Zoom meeting. There were so many problems Kev had solved in a long life well lived, but Zoom was not one of them.