I have been living in Manly, Australia for the last 5 months now and a difference I see between the USA and Australian surf communities are the development of the shortboard surf clubs. Although the surf club idea started in America with Windansea club (La Jolla, California) and Malibu Surf Club (Malibu, California) in the 1960’s and it has stayed a tradition with longboard community around California. The Windansea surf club came to Australia in the 1970s and traveled around and set up club branches (in Sydney, Gold Coast and Sunshine coast). Malibu being know as a famous longboarding spot had such influence on the Australians that the Aussies call Longboards “Mal’s” (short for Malibus). Now there are surf clubs (Australians call them Boardriders) all along the beaches, each club associated with a surf spot Australia. The club idea inspired Australian surfers and it became a nation wide ritual for longboard and shortboard clubs. The Australians separate longboarding and shortboarding clubs, each having their own clubs because of different views of how to surf a wave. Also the longboarders and shortboarders don’t get along because the difference in the length of their sticks, but we all know it’s not the size of the stick but it’s the rhythm you create with ocean
The Boardriders start with community membership, on average its $60 annually to join. You have the choice to participate in monthly events, like local surf competitions (each Boardriders runs the events), tag team events, beers with the boys, club trips and Charity Balls. The Australian Boardriders and Life Saving Clubs control the prime real estate on the beach at their specified breaks. The buildings are setup with the help from the government, then clubs generate revenue by using the buildings for rent as conference rooms, gyms, pubs or restaurants and even mini gambling casinos. The Boardriders also make money through sponsorships from local companies or surf industry brands that they use to fund equipment or team trips.
The Aussie Boardriders have a sick tag team series with Global surf Tag, where a lot of the clubs compete against each other for pride and money. Imagine how good the Boardriders would work for The Game? Seaside Club versus Rincon Club, or Snapper Rocks club versus Lower Trestles club, it would be amazing. There’s so much passion and community support when comes down to competition and local surf spot clubs. The Game format would be amazing to show case the local talent from the area, use the camaraderie within the clubs and bring club versus club to see who has the best locals.
The idea of having surf clubs is great for the community vibe and local support. I feel it would be a huge hit in America to have organized shortboard clubs at some of the top surf spots. It creates an influential team from the area from young mini groms, beginners, to the top pros and older gurus. From an early age groms would have a more structured way of learning about ocean skills, respect in the lineup, equipment and history from their club members. It is also a great place for somebody to try his or her’s first competition. I have recently joined the Queenscliff Boardriders club (QBC) and it’s been inspirational to see everybody in the club ripping and frothing around the events. I’m enjoying the vibe and I think it would be cool to pass it on to my local surfing roots at Seaside Reef.