All beaches have a local crew, guys that have paid their dues, done their time and earned their spot in the lineup. But, few beaches are as universally known and ridiculed as my local. Bondi is known, to the real core local surfers, as Scum Valley. The term was coined way back before the beach became a magnet for media tycoons, yuppies, cafes and would be actors, when big Maoris and bikies ruled the streets and tough pubs were the norm. Bondi was rock-n-roll in those days, not the generic pop shit served up today. But, what is not widely known, is that Bondi has always had, and still does have, a hard core local crew of surfers.
Over the years, numerous Bondi locals have made it on the world stage, most notably Cheyne Horan and Richard Cram. But, just below these guys were dozens of surfers who, at any other beach, would have been the standout surfer, guys like Ant Corrigan, Col Sutherland, Dean Cook, Spot Anderson, Bill Power, Dave Davidson, Mikey Beam and George Wales.
In the 35+ years I’ve called Bondi my home break, I’ve seen a lot of changes, most of them not great, from a locals point of view. I’ve seen some great waves and some insane surfing, seen guys come and go, and seen way too many of the boys, guys I’ve grown up with, who didn’t make it out the other side.
So, that’s what makes this day so special.
The bi-annual Bondi Single Fin Classic was first run five years ago. It is now THE event on the Bondi surfing calendar. But, this year was a little different. Sure, you still had to ride a single fin made prior to 1986. The two divisions remained the same: invited surfers only, in the Opens and Masters (surfed Bondi consistently for over 25 years). But, with a little help from Facebook, this year, a Bondi reunion was organized to run in unison with the comp.
Local identity and surfer, Cisco, who does a fair impression of Maradona, the soccer player, came up with the idea and it snowballed from there. Surfers from all over Oz and overseas were soon making travel arrangements to be in Bondi in early November. And it wasn’t just the blokes involved, some of Bondi’s finest girls too were primed to catch up.
As the comp draw was released, it became apparent that there were no easy heats! A quick glance over the names would have most club surfers shaking in their shoes. Guys like Sloth, Lizard, Ozzy, Doogsa, Moose, Starman, Hideous Creature, Strummer, Turk, Frogger and Horse, may not be household names. But, in Bondi surfing folklore, these guys are all champions.
Arriving early on the contest morning, everything was in place. Ben and Beau, who run Bondi Boardriders, know how to put on a show and had it all happening. Three stages, including a dance floor with mirror ball, (there is a dance off prior to surfing in your heat), tents, tables, chairs, DJs, bands, sausage sizzle, sponsors and drinks. Also, that most important ingredient, swell! And after weeks of no banks, a little rip right appeared from nowhere the day before. We were set.
And then they came. Heads I hadn’t seen in 20, some 30 years! The Rock Crew, 3rd Ramp, The Hill, The Wall, The Office … fuck, they were coming out of the woodwork! Some had fared better than others, over the years. Teeth and hair were missing (and that was just the girls!). But, they all had one thing in common — they were stoked to be home and the Valley was welcoming them with open arms. Many had previously visited, only to feel like outcasts in what was once home. But, today was different. If you were Old School Bondi, you ran the show and the rest of Bondi better step aside or they where gonna get swatted.
The longer the day went, the better the surfing got and the bigger the crowd got. Your truly was surfing in a heat mid-arvo and, looking back on the hill at South Bondi reminded me of the Stubbies crowd at Burleigh, all those years ago, with MP and MR going head to head. Bondi had turned it on for its favourite sons & daughters, and in keeping with the tradition that anything can happen at Bondi, just as the finals were wrapped up, and no one was in a hurry to bail, especially with a beer in hand, a couple of cool looking dudes appear in the throng. There is a bit of a commotion and next thing you know, Wu-Tang Clan, the American Hip Hop outfit, is up onstage busting out some rapps. The crowd is up and digging it. It might not be the Rock-n-Roll that Bondi was once famous for. But, today, it seemed just fucken fine!