Byron Bay Malibu Club inc.


The Early Daze

The foundations of the Byron Bay Malibu Club can be traced back to the year of 1979 when a group of local surfers, who shared a common love of riding malibu boards, had banded together holding impromptu surfing contests and mixing together socially. Although this group had not formed a club at this stage they were at the forefront of a national malibu riding revival.

The proposition of forming a club eventuated in 1980, thus making BBMC one of the first few clubs to involve themselves in the revival. Records indicate the key figures in the newly formed Byron Bay Malibu Club were Max and Yvonne Pendergast; Mark and Louise Tiernan; Anthony, Petria and Sharon Stroud-Watts; Mick and Lauren Wills; Ian Grant and Chris Milgate.
Max was the first President (and continued in this position for over 10 years), with Vonnie as Secretary. Some of the originals are still involved with the club today.

In the early years of the club, rumour mongers in the town set about stories of the club having a selection criteria for members. The truth of the matter was that in order to make less work for the club administrators, the numbers in the membership were limited. This also limited the amount of 'freeloaders' that would turn up for club functions when they were free.

This ‘restricted’ membership policy was dropped in later years to the detriment of the club. Club membership records would indicate a total membership of sixty plus people yet there would be less than half of that number attending functions - unless of course they were free.

In later times still an informal selection criteria was established in that club members not attending a set amount of club contests were asked to show cause as to why they should not be struck off the membership register. Several members were struck from the list by this method. Analysis of this method deemed it to be successful but a rather harsh way of dealing with freeloaders - so a new policy was formulated.

The new strategy was to make the club an organisation worth joining. Today, this policy is still very much alive in that the club gives the best possible value to members participating in contests, social outings and the like. Membership at this point in time (1988) has about twenty actively competing surfers on the books supplemented by about twenty five social members. This has ensured a very strong club member wise and it will ensure that the Byron Bay Malibu Club will be in existence for a long, long time to come.


The contests organised by the Byron Bay Malibu Club are famous Australia wide for the unique atmosphere surrounding them. Indeed, the 'Byron Bay Malibu Classic' is more informally known as the 'Friendly Contest'.

his would not be possible without two major factors. The first one is inherent in the timing and location of the contest. In late April early May The Bay acts like a funnel, directing the big southerly winter swells onto our shores. The best place to take advantage of the waves as far as malibus go would be either Wategos or The Pass. Both of these breaks produce good quality waves, although The Pass tends to handle the larger swell a lot better. Wategos also has it benefits over The Pass - one of which is the fact that it is a natural ampitheatre which makes holding the contest a dream. The waves do break slower here but riding the wave on a good bank more than makes up for it's rather more sedate nature.The Tandem finalists - 1985.

The second factor which assures the club of having the best contest around is the fact that the social activities tied in with the event give excellent value to the competitors. For example, for a twenty dollar entry fee, competitors in the 1988 Byron Bay Malibu Classic received a competitors T-shirt, two free nights consuming refreshments, free entry to a band, a luau and multiple chances to win prizes in the competitors draw at the end of the contest. Of course, the range of prizes for the events finalists also offered top value.

The Anzac contest first came into existence in the Anzac long weekend in 1983. With approximately $5,000 worth of prizes to be given away, surfers came from everywhere to compete in a contest which set the standard to which others were to aspire to. The finalists for the events included a good representation of Byron Bay Malibu Club members. Andrew McKinnon won the Modern Malibu division, Ron Blewitt placed second. In the Old Malibu, Ron broke through to win while Gordon Gell came fourth. The Women' event was virtually all Byron Bay. Bev Blewitt won the division, Louise Tiernan came third, Denise Campbell came fourth and Kaye Wilkie finished in fifth position. Because of the club's strong representation in the finals, we also won the overall pointscore for the contest proving to all and sundry that Byron Bay did rule the waves.

The 1984 Byron Bay Malibu Classic was again held at Wategos Beach and again locals figured prominently in the finals. Gordon Gell improved three places on his 1983 effort by taking out first place in the Old Malibu division. Rusty Miller took out the Veterans event while John Fletcher finished third. Louise Tiernan finished second in the Women's event. The success, both socially and financially, of the 1984 Classic enabled the club to make a donation to the Orthodox Home for the Aged in Byron Bay in the form of a $600 colour television set.

In 1985, sponsors indicated to the club that they realised the potential of gaining exposure for their products by Nat and company. supporting the growth sport of malibu surfing. Consequently companies such as Surf Aids increased their support for the 1985 Classic while other newer sponsors such as Malibu Rum (Swift & Moore) entered the arena with cash sponsorship to the value of $1,000 - not to mention added extras of many samples of their product. Again, because of the success of the 1985 Classic, another donation to the Orthodox Home for the Aged in 1986 consisted of a video cassette recorder to supplement their colour TV.

Following on the heels of a highly successful run of contests the Byron Bay Malibu Club was approached by the newly formed Australia Pacific Festival Committee to run the annual contest in conjunction with their inaugural APF Carnival. Any excuse to kick up some heels!The general agreement was to be that their funds committee organise sponsors for the contest and generally assist in any way they could - including at that stage a promise of $10,000 for contest running expenses - and in return the club would run the contest for the duration of the festival (1 week) and that we would allow the APF Committee to use the contest as a major drawcard for their event. Every aspect of the contest was thrown into doubt when, instead of the $10,000 promised - $6,000 was received, and only a matter of days before the start of the contest.

The '86 contest did however get blessed with perfect contest surf for the full week, was held in the accustomed friendly nature and did have overseas surfers brought to Australia specifically for the contest. One of them, China Eumura, has been back to Byron Bay on a number of occasions to compete in the Byron Bay Malibu Classic.China Eumera

Determined to put a financially complicated year behind the club, the committee looked to the 1987 contest to regain some of the lost momentum. In an effort to streamline proceedings and get back to grass-roots malibu surfing, the club decided to break new ground and eliminate the 8' division from the program. This decision received criticism from one or two mouths but other than that was accepted by the majority of the intending competitors. This decision also earned praise from all major clubs and contest committees. The end result of the '87 Classic was a renewed confidence in the event and a sounder financial base to operate from. As it was in the very first contest - local riders held the majority of final placings. The Veteran's had Rusty Miller, Algy Reid and Roy Meisel representing the Bay, while the grommets was all Byron Bay - with Darren Grahame, Brett Warton, Jason Blewitt and Gareth Donovan in there. The ladies were represented by Bev Blewitt, Sandy Calton, Niki Pearson and Fay Warton. In the Old Malibu, Anthony Stroud-Watts and Gordon Gell waved our flag. In the blue ribbon event - the Nine Foot Traditional - the area was represented by Andrew McKinnon, Ron Blewitt and Rusty Miller.

The 1988 Malibu Classic was the best contest ever held in recent times and that is not according to only club members but to visiting competitors as well. Despite another controversial decision to exclude 'professional' surfers from the event the whole contest passed with only one complaint about the ruling. This ban on pros entering affected only about a dozen or so people who normally attended our event but they had a chance to compete in a pro event in Sydney that was running at the same time. Locals ruled out of contention were not happy to say the least but when the finals came up the standard of surfing had not suffered in any way.

Although this year the club was not represented extremely well in the finals, Greg Snelling, Anthony Stroud-Watts and Gordon Gell surfed their way into the Old Mal final and put on a show that was worthy of mention. One can only describe it as riveting to watch.

The community again benefited from a successful Malibu Club contest which resulted in the new high school receiving a $300 donation for their library and the Orthodox Home received a new microwave oven.

(Circa 1988 - Author Unknown)

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