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Aussie surf culture, heroes honored at Australian Awards

Layne Beachley (left) with Australian Women's Surfer of the Year Sally Fitzgibbons



Surf Culture

Icon Barry Bennett, Mick, Sally honored alongside photographers

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 3 March, 2016 - Manly, Sydney - The Australian surfing community gathered in Manly tonight to honour surfing pioneer Barry Bennett who was inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.

Bennett became the 38th inductee into the Hall of Fame. The influence he has had on the Australian surf industry is timeless. Not just for his pioneering work as surfboard manufacturer and shaper but for the guidance he provided to many of the country’s leading shapers and surfers.

Born in 1931, Barry started building plywood and balsa surfboards and skis in the 1950s at Waverly in the eastern suburbs of Sydney which quickly became a full-time job. He formed Bennett Surfboards in 1960 and opened a factory dedicated to the manufacture of surfboards and blanks in Brookvale.

During this time a steady stream of surfers who were to become some of Australia’s best surfboard craftsmen were also cutting their teeth in the Bennett factory in Brookvale. Bob McTavish, Geoff McCoy, Nat Young and Midget Farrelly were among many who spent time in the factory honing their skills.

“Barry was the first entrepreneur,” McTavish told journalist Nick Carroll in an interview. “He saw it was better to have a small piece of every surfboard made in Australia than to make a small number of surfboards and barely survive. He was a very simple guy. He wasn’t hoodwinked by the hype – he liked measureable things.”

Barry Bennett receives his award 



Bennett, who was joined on stage by other Hall of Fame members said: "It’s a great honour to be included in this group and there are so many incredible surfers here who won World Titles and were the best going around so to be coming from a different side of the sport and to be honoured alongside them is fantastic.”

Bennett’s induction was one of a number of presentations as part of the 2016 Australian Surfing Awards.

Surfing Australia Life Membership was awarded to Queenslander Norm Innis for his many dedicated years of service. Norm, a longtime administrator in the sport, spent 12 years on the Board of Surfing Australia including eight as chairman.

World Surf League Women’s Championship Tour competitor Sally Fitzgibbons and three-time World Champion Mick Fanning won the Female and Male Surfer of the Year awards, while young West Australian charger Jack Robinson won the Rising Star Award.

Big-wave surfer and paddleboard champion Jamie Mitchell, who finished an incredible 4th place in last week’s 2015/16 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau event was named Milwaukee Waterman of the Year. Mitchell received a $2,000 cheque and a $1,500 Milwaukee Tool pack.

The Peter Troy Lifestyle Award to the person who has given their life over to surfing and in doing so has enriched the surfing culture was awarded to Bruce Channon. Bruce has devoted his life to surfing and it shows in his outstanding work as a surf photographer, author and former national champion.

The ASB Surfing Spirit Award for a project or campaign that has given back to surfing through charitable, humanitarian, environmental or philanthropic pursuits was won by Andrew McKinnon for his work with the Save Kirra campaign and the Gold Coast Surfing Reserve.

Surf photo of the year: Russell Bierke by Leroy Bellet

The Surf Culture Award for a project that captures and explores a quintessential element of Australian surfing culture was won by the Duke’s Day Event.

The Simon Anderson Club Award went to Coffs Harbour Boardriders Club who celebrated its 50th Anniversary and were named finalists in the Inside Sport Club of the Year.

17 year old Leroy Bellet’s epic image of Russell Bierke in the tube on sunset showcases perfect composition, commitment and flash photography in extreme conditions and was named the Nikon Surf Photo of the Year and Cluster, a film by Kai Neville featuring some of the world’s best surfers, was named Nikon Surf Movie of the Year.

The winner of the Nikon Surf Photo of the Year was awarded with a Nikon Photography Kit valued at $7,000, while the winner of the Nikon Surf Movie of the Year was awarded with a Nikon Film Kit valued at $7,500.

Male Surfer of the Year: Mick Fanning

Female Surfer of the Year: Sally Fitzgibbons

Rising Star Award: Jack Robinson

Milwaukee Waterman of the Year Award: Jamie Mitchell

Australian Surf Business Surfing Spirit Award: Andrew McKinnon

Peter Troy Lifestyle Award: Bruce Channon

Blainey Woodham

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