Archive for the ‘Sports Photojournalism’ Category

One of the oldest continuous surf competitions in Australia “The Bird Rock Memorial Surf Classic” began in 1981.

Originally the contest began in memory of Port Macquarie surfer Mark Edwards who was fatally injured in a car crash while living on the Sunshine Coast. It is believed the competition was co-ordinated between the Sunshine Coast Boardriders and The Hastings Valley Competition and was known as “The Mark Edwards Memorial” (Eddy) prior to becoming the Bird Rock. Since then it is unfortunate that a growing number of names have been added to the memorial to be remembered annually by fellow surfers. This year marked the 33rd annual event and was held at Bonny Hills NSW Australia.

Friday 17th May Town Beach Bird Rock Memorial

Friday 17th May Town Beach Bird Rock Memorial

Organiser and president of the Bird Rock Committee is Barry Drewwit who with his family business work tirelessly for the event including the making of all trophies. Other committee members are Garry White secretary, Collene Charters treasurer, Jeff Forrester vice president and George Watt chaplain who dedicates his work to families in need.

President of the Bird Rock committee Barry Drewwit competing in the Over 40's Retro Event.

President of the Bird Rock committee Barry Drewwit competing in the Over 40’s Retro Event.

Geoff Branch an organiser of the event saw the photo (below) of five juniors at the Friday Night Memorial and said “I reckon this crew might be some of the future Birdrock committee”.

Possible future Bird Rock Committee Friday night 17th May 2013 Memorial Town Beach Port Macquarie.

Possible future Bird Rock Committee Friday night 17th May 2013 Memorial Town Beach Port Macquarie.

Geoff, who lost a son Mick Branch to leukemia in 2005, has been surfing in the Bird Rock since the early 80’s and has also won a title. He has a paddle each year in remembrance of his son. Geoff said ‘The event is helpful to all that have lost loved ones’.

Organiser Geoff Branch competing in the Over 40's Retro.

Organiser Geoff Branch competing in the Over 40’s Retro.

The 2013 Bird Rock Memorial Surf Classic came to a close at 4.30 pm Sunday 19th May 2013.

Each year the spirit of that first event lives on. Over recent years the event is a highlight for many local surfers in the Port Macquarie Hastings area. This year some surfers postponed trips overseas so they would not miss competing in the Bird Rock.

The event began on Friday evening with a gathering of friends and relatives at the memorial overlooking Town Beach. It was a night of remembrance, heralding a weekend of competition and entertainment.

Organisers' George Watt (left) and Geoff Branch during moments of reflection at the Friday night memorial.

Organisers’ George Watt spiritual leader (left) and Geoff Branch during moments of reflection at the Friday night memorial.

Saturday morning was as good an Autumn morning as can be seen on the mid north coast with clean offshore conditions and waves around the one metre mark. Competition began around 8am with preliminary heats extending throughout the day. There was some very radical surfing amongst the juniors and opens with tubes, airs and vertical re-entries. An extremely difficult task for the judges over the entire weekend.

The conditions early morning as the heats were about to begin on Saturday 18th May 2013.

The conditions early morning as the heats were about to begin on Saturday 18th May 2013.

This year saw a return from Marcus Brabant, a respected surfer both locally and internationally during the 1980’s. Together with an old friend Andrew McMahon they played extras in a movie “The Third Wave” filmed on location at Port Macquarie Town Beach. Marcus surfed in the Over 40’s Retro Event and Andrew in a Masters Event.

Marcus Brabant surfing in the Over 40's Retro event at the 2013 Bird Rock Memorial Surf Classic.

Marcus Brabant surfing in the Over 40’s Retro event at the 2013 Bird Rock Memorial Surf Classic.

Andrew McMahon(pictured) together with Marcus Brabant appeared in the movie" The Third Wave".

Andrew McMahon(pictured) together with Marcus Brabant appeared in the movie” The Third Wave”.

The remembrance ceremony saw many surfers paddle out and form a circle of remembrance for the growing list of lost surfing souls.

The remembrance ceremony saw many surfers paddle out and form a circle of remembrance for the growing list of lost surfing souls.

Sunday finals started to another beautiful morning with excellent conditions similar to Saturday. During each final the competition was fierce with every finalist going for that prestigious title.

Extreme competition at the 2013 Bird Rock Memorial Surf Classic.

Extreme competition at the 2013 Bird Rock Memorial Surf Classic.

The finals continued down to the last. The Open Men’s saw four of the best from the mid north coast compete wave for wave for the title. They were Michael Campbell, Ian Bell, Darren O’Rafferty and Mitch Vanderveer who gave O’Raff a run for the title, settling for a close second.

The ultimate winner was Darren O’Rafferty at his home break, securing the win with a down the line wave moments from the buzzer. The Open Women’s final was won by Melanie Pretorius with a great selection of waves and style.

Darren O'Rafferty WINNER of the Open Men's Event at the Bird Rock Memorial Surf Classic.

Darren O’Rafferty WINNER of the Open Men’s Event at the Bird Rock Memorial Surf Classic.

An outstanding weekend of events closed with the awards ceremonies held in the fading afternoon sunlight at Bonny Hills. The event concluded successfully having reached its ongoing goals of remembrance and friendships. Organisers were ecstatic about the success and all looking forward to 2014.

The Winners in Pictures. (Mouse over for names or click on image for slideshow)

Link to 2013 Bird Rock Surf Classic Galleries – Mouse over link at top of page for individual events. https://brettdolsenphotography.wordpress.com/2013-bird-rock-memorial-surf-classic-images/

2013 Winners

Opens A Darren O’Rafferty
Open B Tom Howard
Open Women’s Mel Petrorius
Open Kneeboard Shane Whitehouse

Cadets Ben Howard
Juniors Jack Germain
Retro 0’40’s Grant Mckenzie
Masters Shaun Weston
Grand Masters Anthony Donohoe
Legends Joel Kolehmaiden
Grand Legends Bob March
Best Tube Mitch Sykes
Best Reo Mick Michael Campbell

Ben Howard The Mark and Kim Windon Award for outstanding surfing over the weekend.
Mick Branch Hammer n Tong award Marcus Brabant
Ryan Chelman retro board won by Michael Riordan
Brad McCarthey Board won by Chelsea Green
The Birdrock Mid North Coast Girls Surfing award Gracie Monaghan

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At 2.30 am I awoke from my poppy nap on my favourite reclining chair. I thought it was too late to head to bed with Triathlon day arriving again in Lake Cathie.

After a little bit of photo editing and internet play in the early hours, I prepared my camera equipment and headed down to the lake for sunrise before the bikes arrived in Lake Cathie.

Next stop was the main bridge, my favourite place for capturing competitors in the  triathlon bike leg. I was early, so it gave me a chance to check some exposures and watch the volunteers set up the road blocks.

Despite the fact that some locals don’t like being confined to the village for most of the Sunday daylight hours, there is something to be said for the peace and quiet from the lack of motor vehicles.

As I waited for a sign that the race had arrived, I spoke to an elderly gentleman walking across the bridge without the use of the cane he was carrying. He informed me that he was 95 years old. Wow I thought and with a quick calculation, I realised he was born in 1918 the year the first world war ended.

I wanted to know more but my mind was preoccupied with being ready for the first riders. The appearance of a paramedic and official vehicles warned they were close.

Within moments the first rider appeared in the distance and suddenly you realise that you are not really prepared for the fast motion angle shot. That’s OK though, I’ll get him on the way back some 50 minutes or so later, for this is just the first of two laps of the 180km bike circuit.

Not long after more riders appeared, some alone and many within groups most likely  keeping pace. As the lead rider appeared on the return you have to wonder what others were thinking  travelling in the opposite direction, over an hour behind him. After already completing a swim it must be daunting  to know you’re not even half way through the bike leg and still have a big run to go after that. Makes you tired just thinking about it!

Anyway it’s  great to watch with riders of all ages some, dressed in brightly coloured sportswear. The many facial expressions are the best as they tell the story of how they are coping during this grueling ride.

I saw an old friend, as he loves to volunteer each year carrying officials along the course on his Harley Davidson.

Some riders were head down tail up while others were just sitting upright seemingly enjoying the ride, the scenery and great weather.
Apart from capturing the leaders and eventual winners of the day, the real highlight was the achievement of Glen Gorick and Nathan Johnstson the visually blind rider who was guided by Glen throughout the race and on the tandem wheel bike (as featured above). They arrived at the finish line well into the night after completing the run component of the event. Truly the heroes of the day!

The winners of the triathlon were No. 1 were Luke Bell in the men’s event and at No. 22, Rebecca Hoschke in the woman’s event.

I’m sorry now that I left early missing many of the fifteen hundred faces of the day. While hunger and thirst had already set in, my memory card had filled and nature was calling.

I felt like I had run a marathon!!

Slideshows of Bike leg at Lake Cathie best watched in HD.