The 29th classic will be held at Wategos Beach (depending on conditions) and will run until Sunday, finishing with a presentation at the Byron Bay Bowling Club – the major event sponsor.
About 160 longboarders from as far south as Sydney and north to the Sunshine Coast, as well as a contingent from the Moanui Longboard Club in New Zealand, will contest this year’s classic.
The biggest increase in entries is in the junior girls division which this year will boast three heats.
Club president David (Sput) Keevers said the open men and women divisions were a bit light on, but the small, quality field included Heith Norrish and Matt Aldridge from Tweed Heads.
“The current junior Australian longboard champion Beau Nixon from the Central Coast will also be a contender in the open men’s division,” he said.
“In the junior boys watch out for local boy Jack Milgate, who will be challenged by Jack Lynch from Scotts Head.
“In all age divisions there are good quality competitors and all heats will be loaded with talent.”
In the over 40s, Sput said Phil Mansfield, Ian Pearson and Robbie King were the ones to watch out for, while the over 50s was loaded with Aussie title-holders Ray Gleave, Tony Abood and Ric Chalmer all from Tweed Heads, as well as locals Brett Munro, Ross Cribb, Eric Walker and Rob Nedwich.
In the over 55s, locals Peter Hall and John Giles are sure to give North Narrabeen boy Warwick Bracey a challenge.
Sput said the biggest and best division was the over 60s with eight Australian title-holders competing.
“These guys have all been surfing since the 60s and include Alan Atkins, Ben Hutchins, Bully Arnold, Ron Rudder, Nev Smith and Terry ‘the turtle’ Taylor,” Sput said.
This year’s classic will also feature a stand-up paddle board event which will be held on Saturday at 2pm.
All money raised will be donated to local organisations or charities including the Volunteer Coastal Patrol, Cape Byron Headland Trust and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
Sput said the money for the charities would not be possible if it wasn’t for the wonderful help from the business community.
This year’s major sponsors are the Byron Bay Bowling Club, Byron Bay Longboards, McTavish Surfboards, Munro Surfboards, Out The Back Surfboards, B C Leather Hats, Surf Aids, Ocean & Earth, The Old Mill Mullumbimby, Sundive Dive Centre, Byron Bay First National Real Estate, Tooheys, Beachfront Apartments, Byron News, 2481, Mrs Palmer Wax, Why Not Cafe and Byron Hire.
“All these sponsors have donated more than $1000 worth of product and these products help to make raffles and money-making ventures which raise more than $10,000 for charities,” Sput said.
All entertainment will be held at the bowling club starting at 6pm each night. with the presentation to be held on Sunday afternoon at 3pm.
On Saturday night a band will play and there will be board giveaways and prizes, while tonight (Thursday) at the Byron Bay Community Centre, renowned surfer Bob McTavish will be a guest at a film night at 7.30pm.
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