Traditionally, Australian gifts have been koalas and saddles
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 13 June, 2014 - Australian surfboard-diplomacy was deployed in Washington, DC when Prime Minister Tony Abbott met President Barack Obama. While questions about the escalating conflict in Iraq dominated White House discussions between the Australian PM and the US President, it was a custom made Bennett Malibu surfboard emblazoned with the Presidential seal which stole the attention of many surfers worldwide and the two keen bodysurfers.
The US president proclaimed he 'loved' the longboard.
The Sydney-made board, in the colours of Obama’s Air Force One plane was Australia’s official gift to the US President. “While both leaders are body surfers, the symbolism of a surfboard shows the strong and lasting relationship of our nations across the Pacific and the love of surfing we share,” said Surfrider Foundation Australia founder Brad Farmer, who recently introduced the Australian PM to his ‘hero’ Kelly Slater during a visit to Manly Beach World Surfing Reserve.
Bennett Surfboards’ Brookvale factory manager, Greg Bennett, said he thought it was a hoax when the PM’s office called about making a custom-made long board for the President — in a week.
“It was a tall order,” Mr Bennett, 53, said. It was a similar story for the Prime Minister’s office, which had to call the White House in advance to get approval to use the Presidential seal before the design was completed. Traditionally, Australian gifts to US Presidents have been cuddly koalas, cowboy hats and saddles.
Australian surfers are lobbying Mr Abbott’s conservative government to implement a National Surfing Management Plan and a National Coastal Act to ensure Australian surfing beaches are protected from over development.