Crisp skies, low winds and glassy waves, for the last 11 years, the first weekend of May has turned on some of the best surf conditions for the Annual Retro Surf Comp and Beach Clean Up. A group of tight-knit mates wax up their single fin surfboards and pull out their wildest moves in the hopes of taking out the top prize; a vintage single fin surfboard from Wandering Merchants.
“It’s my favourite day of the year,” says founder, Niels Glahn-Bertelsen.
“I love the party. I love the day and I just think the atmosphere is second to none.”
The Retro Comp Institution is headed by Glahn-Bertelsen and “the godfathers”, a long-time group of friends who use the comp as an excuse to throw a good party and raise some funds to well-deserving charities. Each year, the comp raises thousands of dollars for a chosen charity through door sales, and food and beverage sales on the day and later that night at the afterparty. This year saw the Comp raise $3,208 for Strategic Community Assistance to Refugee Families (or SCARF for short).
In recent years, the Comp has also involved the help of Matt Rees who organises a beach cleanup in association with Clean Up Australia. Retro punters stroll up and down the beach with giant, white hesham bags, collecting the rubbish carelessly left behind by others. The find of the day? A retro porn magazine found stashed in the greenery behind the dunes. The find was hotly debated as a very strong contender for the prize of best clean up hustle; a limited edition shirt donated by the friendly folks at Via Mare. A prize amongst many on the night including best dressed and “wave lord,” a title which is reserved for the most skeeze on a single wave.
With the exception of the after party, the final heat of the day brings the Comp’s biggest crowds. As the afternoon winds begin to pick up speed along the beach in Fairy Meadow, the final four retro surfers lie face down in the sand (nippers style), listening out for the starter whistle. With little effort, they spring up from the sand and race each other around a nearby flagpole back to their surfboards. One by one they reach their single fins and begin to scull a tinnie of Capital Brewing Co.‘s finest beer, before picking up their board and racing into the water in hunt of the best wave. As the clock wound down to its final seconds, the winner was clear. Ned “Grissle” Sanchez (or as founding godfather, Simon Tedder, refers to him “the red-nut from Gerroa”) took out top prize on the day.