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Bells specialty event honors local, takes aim at suicide

Photos of Shaun Brooks and event poster.  Photo Credit: Steve Ryan
Shaun Brooks © Steve Ryan


Bells Beach 50 Year Storm Invitational

Bells Beach, Victoria Australia
June 1 to August 31, 2017

Bells Beach 50 Year Storm Invitational will honor Shaun Brooks with big-wave specialty event

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 8 May, 2017 - The best surfers on Victoria’s Surf Coast will gather at Bells Beach on the biggest swell this winter to honour one of their own.

The inaugural Bells Beach 50 Year Storm Invitational will see local legend Shaun Brooks honoured as a field of family, friends, local surfing royalty and big-wave chargers paddle out for a one-day invitational contest at Bells. Shaun, a former World Junior and Victorian Open champion, took his own life in 2012 after a long battle with mental illness.

“Our family is stoked that a bunch of Shaun’s mates have come together to put on not just an awesome memorial surfing event, but also driving support for mental health and youth suicide prevention,” said Shaun’s younger brother, Troy Brooks, who himself surfed on the World Championship Tour for four years and is the number one invitee for the 50 Year Storm.

“Shaun was always at home in big waves and especially loved Bells Beach, so it’s great to have an event where he’d be in his element at big Bells.”

Eighteen local surfers have been invited to compete in the event, which has a waiting period of June 1 to August 31 but will only be held when the surf at Bells reaches a minimum height of 12 feet. Local big-wave legend Tony Ray, who will surf in the event himself, is also swell forecaster and along with contest director , Ross Slaven, will make the call on the day whether the waves are big enough to run.

Alongside Troy Brooks and Tony Ray in the field are a mix of Bells legends like Greg Brown and Jeff Sweeney, surfers who’ve competed on the world tour like Nic Muscroft, Adam Robertson and Cahill Bell-Warren, and the next generation of Bells chargers like Casey Egan and Tim Stevenson. A special invitee to the field is Jan Juc local, Ross Clarke-Jones who has won the fabled Eddie Aikau Memorial at Waimea Bay in Hawaii, the world’s premier big-wave event. Most of the field were close personal friends of Shaun.

The format for the event is very different to a typical contest. When the event is called on all 18 surfers will paddle out and surf together for four hours with the winner being the surfer judged to have charged the hardest. The format reflects the camaraderie between the surfers themselves and the theme of the event, which is “Big Bells, big balls, big hearts.”

The tight-knit Bells surfing community has swung behind the event. “The support from the Surf Coast has been amazing,” said Troy Brooks. “Loads of locals, businesses and the Surf Coast Shire have donated time and money to the cause.” The event is aligned with charities One in Five and Headspace, and will be raising money to help these organisations with the incredible work that they do.

The event channels the fabled history of Bells Beach, with the name a cheeky reference to the 1991 cult movie, Point Break, where the lead character Bodhi paddles out at Bells in the “50-year storm” never to return.

If Bells reaches the required size and the event is called on, it will be a legitimate challenge for the invitees. “Bells at 12 foot is a serious wave,” says Troy Brooks. “The wave has so much power at that size that it’ll be a big test for the guys out there. They’ll need some big boards and some big tickers.”

The opening ceremony for the 50 Year Storm Invitational will be held on the sand at Bells Beach at midday on Saturday May 20. The ceremony will feature a traditional Wathaurong welcome, the introduction of the invitees, then a paddle out for all those who wish to be involved.

The “Bells Beach 50 Year Storm Invitational in Memory of Shaun Brooks” is supported by Torquay Surf, One Agency Real Estate, the Surf Coast Shire, Surfing Victoria, Coastalwatch, Modom, G Boards, Lost Surfboards, Reef, Dragon, Rip Curl and Quiksilver.

1.     Troy Brooks
2.     Tony Ray
3.     Nathan Edwards
4.     Mick Ray
5.     Jeff Sweeney
6.     Greg Brown
7.     Adam Robertson
8.     Paul Bleazby
9.     Ross Clarke-Jones
10.  Jack Perry
11.  Tim Stevenson
12.  Cahill Bell-Warren
13.  Nic Muscroft
14.  Jeff Rowley
15.  Carlo Lowdon
16.  Casey Egan
17.  Nige Muscroft
18.  Shyama Buttonshaw

1.    Shaun O'callaghan
2.    Todd Rosewell
3.    Cody Robinson
4.    Tim Hawken
5.    John Hawken
6.    Glen Casey  
7.    Llew Callahan
8.    Mark Phipps  
9.    Andrew Flitton
10.  Zeb Walsh
11.  Craig "Pin" Stevenson
12.  Darren Wilcock
13.  Maurice Cole
14.  Mark Rayner
15.  Russ "Hellman" Mcconachy
16.  Craig “Boots” Garrard
17.  Wayne Lynch
18.  Harry Mann
19.  Gareth Haeberle

Liam Robertson

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