For the first time since surfing’s boom in popularity in the 1960s, leaders of Surf Life Saving NSW and Surfing NSW have reached an agreement between the two state bodies.
A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steven Pearce and Luke Madden (Surfing NSW CEO), which heralds a new era of cooperation.
Some of the features of the new agreement include lifeguards and lifesaving assets provided to increase safety at Surfing NSW competitions, while the Surf Life Saving Academy will conduct First Aid Training for the Maroubra-based organisation.
Additionally, Surfing NSW will provide fully accredited judges to the Midford NSW Board Riding Championships.
“We are delighted to officially sign this MOU with Surfing NSW and look forward to our relationship continuing to grow,” Mr Pearce said.
“It’s a wonderful chance for our two organisations to share knowledge and introduce members to a diverse range of new opportunities.
“At the end of the day we both share the same passion for the ocean and many of our members are keen surfers when they are not volunteering on patrol.”
Surfing NSW CEO Luke Madden says he’s excited for this partnership to come to fruition.
“We’re coming together to make our beaches safer and we’re stoked that we can work together officially now,” he said.
“We’ll be bringing to life combined initiatives like our Surfers Rescue 24/7 water safety program - providing CPR and board rescue techniques to surfers.
“SLSNSW has helped with the growth of this program that is now engaging and empowering surfers along the entire NSW coastline to help out when there are no lifeguards or patrols available.
"Many of our top international athletes like two-time world surfing champion Tom Carroll and North Narrabeen’s Laura Enever, have been involved in their local Surf Life Saving clubs throughout their lives. Their ties to both our communities highlight the natural synergy and love of the beaches we share."
Australian surfing legend and pioneer Simon Anderson of North Narrabeen, invented the thruster surfboard setup in 1980. Anderson was brought up in the Surf Life Saving movement in the midst of the historical separation of the two groups.
"Throughout the 1960s I was a member of Collaroy Surf Life Saving Club as a Nipper and went onto completing my Bronze Medallion with the club,” Mr Anderson said.
“I competed in the State Titles but wasn’t keen on doing patrols so as surfing flourished throughout the 60s, I naturally moved away from the surf club.
"The relationship between surfers and surf lifesavers soured during this time because there wasn’t a good understanding of each other’s needs. Surfboards were big and a safety hazard to swimmers, and lifesavers would place the flags in the best surf spots on the beach without consideration.
“The conflict increased when local councils brought in a registration fee for surfboards, and it was the lifesavers that had to enforce the fines and confiscate boards.
“These days there is a better understanding of each other’s requirements on the beach. The partnership is a good fit because surf lifesavers aren’t patrolling the beach seven days and out of hours, surfers are almost always out there and perform many rescues. It’s beneficial for everyone that we have a good relationship because water safety is what we’re all about.”