Originally formed by a small hardcore crew of locals, Coffs Harbour Boardriders continues to go from strength to strength. Celebrating its 50th year, Focus paddled out with some of its members to take a look at a colourful and successful history.
How did the club begin?
The club essentially was formed through the passion of 18 local surfers who wanted to travel and surf against all the other clubs in team events up and down the coast. Living that lifestyle was what drove this ambition, and they formed a team and club.
When it first started, where were most of the competitions held and what clubs did CHBC surf against?
In those early years between 1965 – 1968, the club was solely about teams events and would travel north to Lennox Head, Tweed Heads, Sunshine Coast and south to places like Crescent Head and plenty of other fun events.
What was the club called then?
The club was originally called the Coffs Harbour Surfriders Club.
It has had a few name changes along the way; what were some of these?
CHBC has had its fair share of changes, and this is one of the things that make this club so colourful. The original name of Coffs Harbour Surfriders Club was changed in 1969 to the Coffs Area Surfriders Club, which lasted into the early 1970s and was changed to Coffs Harbour Surfriders Association, which lasted until 1984, when the club had its last name change to the Coffs Harbour Boardriders Club – which now still stands.
How many Presidents has the club had?
Like any community organisation that is built on volunteering, you will see a turnover of quite a few head figures, and up to date we have seen 22 Presidents.
Who have being some of the club members that have gone on to be successful?
CHBC has had loads of successful surfers winning NSW and Australian Titles, although the achievements of Lee Winkler and Shaun Cansdell reaching the elite ASP World Championship Tour is without a doubt at the top.
How have the local CHBC surfers gone when they have come up against world champions?
CHBC individual surfers have come up against ASP World Champions over the years, including Geoff McSkimmings, who beat Wayne “Rabbit“ Bartholomew in the early 1970s, and Mark Williams after winning the Trials came up against 4 x World Champion Mark Richards in the WCT event at Cronulla Point in the 1970s also, and went to battle with the great MR and fell just short in the dying seconds. Shaun Cansdell took down 2001 World Champion CJ Hobgood in 2006, and Lee Winkler had quite a run over his career beating Sunny Garcia, Mark Occhilupo, CJ Hobgood, Andy Irons, Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson.
We must confess and tell a tale that Shaun had the chance to surf against Mark “Occy“ Occhilupo in a WCT event early in his career, only to muddle his heat times up and completely miss the heat! Classic, and a true Shauny tale!
CHBC junior surfers have been dominant the last couple of seasons in individual events. Are there a few who have potential to reach the World Championship Tour?
CHBC is roaring with junior talent and very lucky to have these juniors coming through the ranks! Surfers who are competing at NSW and Australian level for their specific age group within the club are Taj Watson, Ethan Stocks, Finn Askew, Hunter Winkler, Will Martin in the boys and Samahra Bye and Carly Shanahan in the girls! Plenty of others are starting to make their mark also.
Has there been anyone who has dominated the CHBC Open Men’s Championship division over the years?
The Open Men’s division is and always has been the most prominent division at all Boardriders Clubs Australia wide, and CHBC has had only five surfers win three or more annual years; the tally has Mark Williams at five, Andrew Lindsay four, Greg Simpson three, Alex Maniatis three and Lee Winkler three.
CHBC has contributed greatly to Australian surfing development over the years and has run many successful amateur and pro-amateur events. Can you fill us in on these?
CHBC has contributed greatly, and part of the success also comes down to the location. This area has plenty of variety in beaches and also a host of amazing accommodation and food outlets. The main events that CHBC has contributed to in Pro-Amateur, Amateur and Junior events are the Banana Republic Surf Classic, HCF Coffs Classic and now one of the most prestigious junior events in Australia, the Billabong OZ Grom Cup.
Does the club have a lot of members at present?
Over the last three years, the club’s numbers have continued to increase – it’s around the 200 mark, and it’s very family oriented.
The club had a great run last year in teams events at national level. Tell us a bit about how this unfolded …
The last 12 months the club has seen CHBC’s best success in its history, having received runner-up position in the three largest teams events in Australia’s history being the Kirra Teams Challenge (Gold Coast), Australian SurfTag Championships (North Narrabeen) and the Australian Boardriders Battle Final (Cronulla), where the club beat Joel Parkinson’s and Australia’s most successful club, Snapper Rocks Surfriders Club, in the all important teams division!
This success is not only down to the surfers, but the amazing people who currently run the club and provide a professional environment for our surfers to achieve to the best of their ability.
The club has its 50th anniversary on 12th December at the club’s major sponsor, the Hoey Moey. What will the night involve?
The night will be full of fun, loads of laughs and lots of history from former Presidents! There will be loads of honouring in areas of the club including efforts, achievements and culture, along with amazing food, music, videos, slide shows, Classic Single Fin (Lucky Door Prize) Giveaway – and to top it off we have the Godfather of Surfing, 1978 ASP World Champion Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew as our host for the evening. This night will be remarkable.