The Barney Miller Classic, Celebrating 20 years!

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The Barney Miller Classic is an annual charity surf event held at Sawtell Main Beach and run by the Sawtell Boardriders Club. We have approximately 150 surfers from up and down the east coast who compete in 13 different divisions, ranging from Under 10s to Over 50s. 

The contest itself represents community and the importance of creating a support system to help you through the tough times. I believe that if a group of strangers can lend a hand, whether it’s through volunteering, financial or product sponsorship, buying raffle tickets or bidding on auction items, or simply just showing up to the event itself, that has the power to instil hope in the recipient and their family and lets them know they are not alone in this. This year we are celebrating 20 years of the event, and it is something I am honoured to have shared with my community. It may bear my name, but it is Sawtell that makes it what it has become today.

Where did the idea for the event come from?

The Barney Miller Charity Surf Classic was started by a good friend of mine, Joel “Tubby” Bath back in 1999 after my accident. He created the contest for his Year 12 Design and Technology Project for his HSE. From the first event, all proceeds were made for me, and then I decided to keep it running as an annual event, choosing a different recipient each year who had suffered a spinal injury. 2019’s recipient is 24 year old Jessica Collins, an Iron Woman and Champion Australian Life Saving athlete who broke her neck mid last year surfing at Snapper Rocks.

What are some of the weekend highlights?

To celebrate 20 years we have a weekend packed with good times and great opportunities for everyone to get involved. 

Thursday 28th March – Proximity Movie Screening – Sawtell Cinema, 7pm – $12.50.

Friday 29th March – ‘70s Black Tie Gala Auction – Sawtell RSL, 6pm – $75. 

Saturday 30th March – Barney’s Sawtell Street Party from 4pm – Live Music from Sea Foam, Wheels & The Wavemen and Joseph’s Coat. 

Sunday 31st March – Presentation at the Sawtell Hotel – 4pm.

Contest runs at Sawtell Main Beach, Friday 29th – Sunday 31st, 7am – 4pm. 

Tell us about the Gala Night.

This year we have partnered with the Sawtell RSL to host the charity action gala. To keep it fun, we have themed the event ‘70s Black Tie. It will be a sit down event with a three course meal, live entertainment, raffles and a live auction. Tickets are available as singles or in tables of ight. It’s set to be a great night for a great cause. 

Who are some of the sponsors of the event?

We are very fortunate to have continued support and sponsorship from multiple brands and businesses, both local and international.  The biggest thanks goes to our incredible committee. Honestly, this event would not run without the help and dedication of our team – Ged O’Sullivan, Julie-Ann Willis, Phil Klaus, Dom and Mel Gaud, Bec Mooney, Nic Browne, Karen Schindler, Carly Osborne, Hannah Davis and the rest of the Sawtell Boardriders. They all volunteer their time, talents and contacts, and they are the driving force behind the event’s success.

Where can we find out more?

If you would like to get involved by providing sponsorship, making a donation or coming to the events, go to or or email me on

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