ross kelly : australian titles, 1967
For film of the event, see:
Paul Witzig's The Hot Generation, 1967-1968.
Half a mile from Bells Beach a young Victorian surfer picked up a two way transistor repeating "gate to base. .. gate to base."
A voice at the other end gulped back, "yes!"
"A blue Holden with four guys are coming through without paying."
Before you could say pasturised milk an official car had blocked the road and the admission money collected with peaceful determination.
This then was a scene on Easter Sunday for the grand finals of the week long 1967 Australian Championships.
Tony Olson contest director had the whole place "wired."
Visiting A.S.A. executive officials had long sinte given up advising or suggesting.
There was no need.
Bendy the surf was too good -minds were snapping.
Drouyn later recounted, "We got there about mid-day.
The road into Bells was completely blocked by cars waiting to get into the parking area.
We gave up; left the car and walked for nearly 20 minutes past all these cars and people ... I was really jazzed, I mean all those people."
ago the A.S.A. had successfully convinced the Victorian
branch that a three
round tournament as used in San Diego was the word.
All the problems were detailed and eventually one by one removed or reduced.
several interstate trips and phone calls, sighs of relief
by the contest committee.
The Victorian titles used to test many of the ideas were a great success.
It was going to work.
When he ran oul of Victorians to harass he rang up Sydney.
(One interstate official copped ten calls in one week).
the competitors had arrived by the Sunday before Easter.
Instructions were given, inquiries answered and last minute accommodations organised.
who had earlier opted out of the contest as a protest
judging, now wanted to start.
Problem: New South Wales had no room for him in the team as the vacancy had been given to another surfer, and all States had team limits.
The Victorians who needed the champ for gate receipts squeezed him in on the N.S.W. reserve list by juggling their Vic. drop in options.
But that first Sunday was lousy surf with on-shore winds that locals said would stay.
Monday and the first day's contest, surf spotters reported Bells at six to eight feet with slight bounce from the storm and little wind.
bloody good by everybody's standards except some of the
By mid-afternoon the wind freshened from the sea but allowed most of the ...
Juniors and Womens to be completed.
A semi repercharge (made up of 2nd and 3rd place getters in semi finals) and final for both decisions were held over for another day.
Back in the beer garden, opinion was that Wayne Lynch, Butch Cooney or Keven Parkinson would take out the Junior trophies with a slight preference at this stage for ''Parko."
good as usual and without Dorothy Derooy must keep the cup.
Dorothy was the only major surfer unable to make the trip.
Her boss the only holdout.
who have surfed 10-12 feet hollow walls in glassy water.
(Once again some Victorian said it wasn't glassy -"you can't see your face in the water.")
The mens and senior mens had it all day Tuesday.
were used by most of the surfers - certainly by the hot
Brains popped as Keith Paul, Peter Drouyn, Robert Brown and Russell Hughes took off impossibly inside and made it.
As Conneeley dropped into mad sections bolt upright doing his unique fussy foot two steps.
As Midget on his super light stick ran the board like it was on fire, pulled off turns and cut-backs with such speed and fineness to reaffirm his position as master of the shoulder.
As Nat drove flat boarded across the bowl sometimes with a complete cover up in the foam and always with his vicious cut-back.
Wolf somebody- other related, "I had him (Nat) in frame in
on one of those big ones ... the wave completely covered him
up on that
I panned the camera back and along the foam to capture the power of the wave and suggest the destruction of this surfer - when I reached the shoulder again out he popped still on the board, wringing wet."
Nat won the
round on a close decision from Midget.
Bob Wilson cleaned up the senior mens and at that stage looked an easy winner for the big one.
day was the foam surfing by aggressive Richard Harvey.
He did not show his famous ''fire'' or "over ...
... kill" that is a legend in Mona Vale.
Local stars Laury Wall, Peter Troy and Rod Brooks could not find the speed when needed ... in Troy's case catching an outside front rail.
the cafes, packed rooms and small groups in the streets
every good wave
Then later the subject was suddenly dropped.
Attention was refocused on beer, raging or sleep.
It had all been too much - nothing more could be said.
the remaining events of the first day were run off at Lorne
near the breakwater
in a close-out surf that proved too rude for the girls who
back to Torquay beach.
Couper won in sloppy three to four foot howling side wind surf.
Beach mate Wayne Lynch niched the 1st round Junior final from Cooney and Parkinson.
Low tide at
in a southerly brought up three to five foot good shaped
rights off the
point and some excellent surfing by the girls in this second
Sydney bird Christine Binning spoke for the group - chirping, "Give us good waves and we will give you good surfing."
No one argued, the point was made.
The juniors shared the surf that day, but no finals were run.
Point Impossible four miles east of Torquay on Good Friday 1967 will be remembered as the scene of a classic surf struggle.
For 45 minutes in the Junior Final (left over from Lorne Point) in five to six foot medium shape surf three small giants - Lynch, Cooney and Parkinson - fought out the most thrilling junior contest ever seen by these tired eyes.
Parkinson threw the first punch with an extended rocking nose stall across falling sections with a couple of his wild cut backs thrown in.
with two copy book rides.
Rise up the wave on a nose stall- drop down - cut back - drive up high - re-entry on the close out - turn left along the foam.
All this must have maddened Butch Cooney who wild bulled his next wave from further inside to out-nose-stall Parko ...
... and out re-enter Lynch.
fighting back, pulled off a six foot re-entry only to tip a
rail up in
the foam. Experts can't remember seeing such a smooth
The little fella half crouched, grabbed the upturned rail and pushed it back into position coming down.
back and forth between the three.
The judges granted an extension of time.
The P.A. system shouted out to the finalists, "Fifteen minutes extension put up your hand if you can hear and understand."
up including Butch Cooney's, who at the time was nose
a falling six foot section.
Some say he even looked back at the beach.
No trouble he made the wave and won the round followed by Lynch and Parkinson.
Gail Couper hit 200 points, but Lyn Stubbins looked good.
Before the whole contest started competitors were told by a message from the judges that three points would come in for special attention: (a) wave selection (b) making the wave (c) bad drop-ins.
This news was treated casually by most competitors, but not for long.
After the first round it became obvious from the judges cards that they were ruthless on drop-ins.
Inside positioning became the name of the game.
Some surfers complained that they were being dropped in on the inside at the take off.
inside dropping in or take off sheperding was considered,
The problem solved itself.
Out in the water exploiters of the new inside caper were conned, during a lull in the sets, into moving their take off spot so far over that when the wave came they could not make it across.
came in for further development.
Organisers had agreed that where possible the best five waves would decide.
This gave the consistent surfer an edge over the wild rads.
A controversial point as invariably the decisions from a five wave final runs foul of some beach groups.
Spectators cannot remember more than a few of the waves ridden by each surfer - certainly not five. They are exposed to greater distractions and can afford the luxury of watching the surfers they choose.
And so when a three wave event did show up and enough surf rolled through, surfers would take three or four fast good cape (sic, safe?) rides then move over closer to the rocks and sometimes further out and wait for, at (sic, and?) attempt, the impossible.
Sometimes the surfer made them - always the spectators enjoyed it.
At a special meeting idealist John Witzig claimed incompetence by some of the judges and moved that judges for finals be picked by their so-far results without regard for maintaining a balance from each State.
Cooper countered that Witzig's claim was true in part only,
as all judges
at some stage had goofed.
He was quick to add that the high and low system had protected the surfers and that now all judges were nearly spot on.
The result that forestalled a possible incident was to increase the panel to nine and double the number of high and low scores dropped.
Saturday at Bells in 12 foot medium shape was almost a carbon copy of 1st round Mens and Senior Mens, except most of the top surfers changed over to the bigger boards.
Russell Hughes from Noosa used a radical 9' 10" gun with a pure planing section aft flowing into a 10" pod and 18" fin.
fast and interesting.
Many new ideas showed up at Bells.
Bernard Farrelly's super light big board with a huge nose lift, which allowed him to stand further off the tail and so level and trim the board against the water line.
Nat fattened his fins and especially the leading edge to reduce drag, similar to the foil on a dolphin's fin.
for very light thin railed boards, many with nose and back
for extra feet grip.
(Spectator McTavish killed them all by only spraying the middle).
No details were overlooked and how ...
Bells Beach, 1967.
Photograph: Alby Falzon
Photograph: Alby Falzon
Photograph: Alby Falzon.
... right they were.
If ever you needed everything going for you it was during the last two days at Bells.
more from the south - almost straight in.
The long drives on Tuesday were once again attempted against a quicker falling section.
conned each other over giant close out wall around at Centre
side for four
The Senior Mens grand final was won by Malcolm Sanders.
Bob Wilson on a board too slow for big Sunday fell back in his placings to allow Sanders to win the trophy.
Doc Spence had a ball and won a place with long hard rzil grabbing drives on his big gun.
value out of the smaller waves that came through, but were
the size of the surf.
Lynch won the grand final and the trophy.
Whether level pegger Cooney could have beaten him if his own board had not been stolen will never be answered.
Butch later said, "You need confidence out in big surf at Bells ... I wish I had my own board."
The Mens grand final was good but not the best surfing of the contest.
Nat was too
Farrelly who had the best chance to catch him tried the hardest, but never made it through enough sections.
sat further out, and inside, than the rest.
Brown went over the lot (probably caught the biggest wave of the contest) but was caught too often. Spencer was over selective and did not catch enough waves.
Keith Paul, Robert Young and Peter Drouyn surfed everywhere, and except Paul, anything that came along.
Peter Drouyn won, but it could not have been by much.
It was a
Drouyn at Bells.
John Witzig put it, "Drouyn never surfed as the brash young kid we remember ... he probably has a lot more consIstency now in his surfing.
Still, I'll miss the brashness."
And so the young Queenslander stepped out off the junior ranks in a bIaze of glory by tossing the champs, but not enough to win THE title which stayed with Nat for another year.
Malcolm Sanders and Jane Farrelly became the first couple to ride big Bells tandem - with a trophy to prove it.
The grand final for the girls was postponed due to the dangerous conditions and run at Point Impossible the next day, with Victoria keeping the cup.
Many things happened at Bells.
was the best surf and surfing.
The little giants at Point Impossible should be remembered.
at Lorne proved that they still have the skill but need the
Maybe the time has come for the girls to run their own contests under good light conditions.
Who knows they may even take the bit in their mouth and develop their own style (I hate that word) and contest rules.
Feminine surfing as often seen in Lynda Merrill and sometimes in Byron Bay is a new and unexplored world.
The N.S.W. surfers won't have it so easy next year now that the other states have seen their secret weapon of foam control.
They have 12 months to sharpen their rails and enter the world of roller coasters, re-entries, pure trim and pocket picking.
so hot and the surfing so deep that at times the
passed a judge's understanding.
Or was it fatigue or that great disease inferiority complex which forces a judge's wave assessments out of the top and low levels into the safe centre.
To be on top they must and do believe with strength that their way is the right way.
The solution used at Bells was a good one and the panel drawn from every State with experience either practically or emotionally with a series of built-in safe guards.
Few restrictions were placed on competitors and a minimum of "correct surfing" advice given.
decided by yardsticks and detailed requirements, competition
If it can be judged emotionally by a panel under minimum restrictions it is an art form - and Bells was close to art.
Bells Beach, 1967.
Photograph: Alby Falzon.
Bells - as tolled by Ross Kelly.
Volume 9 Number 1
April-May 1967, pages 10 to 27.