• BURLEIGH BOARDRIDERS SINGLE FIN FESTIVAL

Burleigh Boardriders one again will be bringing back the laid-back times of the 1970's, with the 17th annual Burleigh Boardriders Single Fin festival from 10th to the 12 of January. Friday will see the Charity Luncheon at Burleigh Bears Leagues Club, with the Saturday and Sunday the action turns to Burleigh Point for the Single Fin Classic.

The annual Charity Luncheon will be hosted by funny-man and former jockey Allan “Robbo” Robinson, with special guest comedian Rash Ryder. Guest speakers will be the man who single-handedly saw over the demise of the single fin, the man credited with the invention of the Thruster, Simon Anderson. The other guest speaker confirmed is Manly and Australian Rugby League legend Steven Meenzies. Other speakers are yet to be confirmed, but WCT surfers, NRL and AFL players are on the guest list. With the guest speakers, huge sporting memorabilia auction, and tickets only $100 per person including meal and refreshments there are only limited seats available.

The Single Fin Classic is a unique surfing contest, where all surfers that compete on single fin surfboards made before 1985, which means that every board that is surfed in the event is an antique, and a unique part of surfing history. It is like a surfing museum over the contest, all the boards there for one and all to see, and thousand gather on Burleigh Point to watch the event.

This year is a special one for many of those that surf Burleigh Point. Held in memory of “AB”, Alan Byrne, who passed away suddenly only a few months ago. Alan was a surfboard shaper and a true craftsman, an innovator in surfboard design, and the first ever Kiwi to be accepted by the Burleigh Boys in the 1970's. Alan's channel bottom single fins are a prized craft, and they are “the” board to surf on in this event.

The event has a special spirit to it as well, six man heats, and a really cool attitude from all the competitors in the water, where hassling is at a minimum, and cheering on your fellow competitor as they surf a wave is mandatory. The 2013 Champion, Dave Rastovich, embodies the spirit of the single fin; cool, relaxed, and surfing with that bit of style and class. Dave grew up surfing at Burleigh Point, before embarking on his journey of being a soul surfer, and championing many other environmental causes.

Last year Rasta won a handcrafted single fin made by local legend Dirk Van Straalen, to say he was happy with the win would be an understatement. This year will be a handshaped Alan Byrne replica single fin for the event winner. But whether competing, or watching from the headland, it is the vibe that is the single fin, which Rasta says draws him to the event;

“It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to come down and pull out these old relics and have a lot of fun on the point.” There also is an under 18 division, and the young grommets really impressed Rastovich.

“I grew up in the area and moved away about ten or 12 years ago and I really miss the headland and the community. To come back and see the amount of grommets here – that semi final and final display from the groms was amazing. It’s so great and it’s important to have events like this and to keep inspiring them to do what they’re doing,”

This year Rastovich will be back to compete once again, and even though music legend Ash Grunwald will not be performing at the contest like last year, he will be competing, and after progressing through a few rounds last year will be keen to get into the spirit of the event again. This year local band “Tokyo Beef” will be playing on the point after the event to entertain the punters.

The whole thing is about surfing for surfings sake, remembering lost friends, and for the Burleigh Boardriders it is their major fundraiser for the year. This year Breaka Flavoured Milk have come on board, wanting to help the grassroots of surfing, along with Billabong and Scoot Airlines. The Single Fin Classic is the first event of 2014, and Burleigh Point will once again be crowded with people from the Gold Coast and beyond to check out classic surfing on classic surfboards.

The level of surfing at the event is incredible, Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning, Occy, Luke Egan, are just some of the big name surfers to compete in the event. Occy, Rasta, and Luke Egan look set to compete again this year, along with World Professional Junior Champion Jack Freestone competing against a field of local Burleigh rippers, and red hot surfers from the Gold Coast and beyond. It is a prestigious title to win; you only win a single fin surfboard, and the glory – it is all about the glory, the title and the fun.

With money raised from the event, Burleigh Boardriders donate some to local charities, and the balance going back into Burleigh Boardriders Junior Development program. Three times single fin Champion and Burleigh Boardriders head coach, Kyle “Dvex” Robinson sums up Burleigh Boardriders Junior Development plan quite well; “We have a squad of about 30 juniors who train once a week, and we are hoping one day that they can follow the lead of surfers like Jay “Bottle” Thompson, and qualify for the World Championship Tour, and maybe even have a world champion one day. Overall though, we are developing the groms as whole person, we have had improving results for the last few years, and they really are a great bunch of kids.”

Groms as young as ten years old compete in the single fin, and seeing them surf on a board that is three times as old and three times as big as them is a great sight to see, one of the most entertaining part of the Single Fin Classic according to most spectators.

Mark it in your dairies, the 10th, 11th, and 12th, of January to come and check out the 2014 Burleigh Boardriders Single Fin Classic. Sit on the natural ampitheatre that is Burleigh Point, or “Jelergull” as the ancients from the Koomberri Tribe named it from there dreaming stories. Just the vibe, the feeling, and the excellent level of surfing is worth pulling up a piece of grass or rock on the headland and just soaking it all in.