Mark Richards ©Surfing Australia


CAN'T TOUCH THIS: AUSSIES NAME NATION'S BEST
Thursday, 21 February 2013

Australian surfing celebrated its champions tonight with Mark Richards and Stephanie Gilmore honoured at the Australian Surfing Awards in Sydney.

The Awards marked a significant milestone in Surfing Australia's history as it celebrated its 50th Anniversary following its formation in 1963 as the Australian Surfriders Association and over 500 guests celebrated at the gala event. It was an unprecedented gathering of Australian surfing legends from the past 50 years.

Four-times World Champion Mark Richards was named Australia's Most Influential Surfer 1963-2013, while five-times World Champion Stephanie Gilmore was inducted as the 35th member of the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.

The campaign to find Australia's 10 Most Influential Surfers 1963-2013 was conducted through a public vote and through votes provided by the members of the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.

The 10, in order of votes received, was: Mark Richards, Simon Anderson, Nat Young, Michael Peterson, Midget Farrelly, Tom Carroll, Layne Beachley, Wayne Bartholomew, Mark Occhilupo and Bob McTavish.

By winning four consecutive World Titles over four years from 1979 to 1982, Richards became the first surfer in history to dominate the world professional tour for an extended period of time.
In 1979 he unleashed his secret weapon – a new take on the twin-fin. In a testament to his now legendary shaping skills, this new design was perfect for the gliding, swooping turns that Richards was renowned for.

Armed with the new design, Richards seemed to gain speed, manoeuvrability and at times seemed unbeatable, particularly on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii, where he had already forged a formidable reputation in huge surf since 1974.

Richards personified the consummate performer and his clean-cut, humble yet professional attitude brought competitive surfing a step closer to being accepted as a major sport. He is still highly-sought after for his fine board shaping skills and he remains passionately involved in the growth of the sport in Australia hosting an annual camp for Australia's leading Under 16 male surfers.

"It's a great honour and very flattering and I feel incredible to be up here to receive this award amongst so many great surfers," Richards said. "People like Bob McTavish, Nat Young, Layne Beachley, Simon Anderson, Rabbit, Occy... just so many people who have done wonderful things for surfing and it's pretty amazing to get this honour."

The 25-years-old Gilmore, the current Women's ASP World Champion, said she was humbled to be inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.

"This is such an honour," Gilmore said. "Everyone in the Hall of Fame has had such an incredible impact on the world of surfing and to be included in that is unreal." As a grommet growing up in Kingscliff in northern NSW, Gilmore said it was always a thrill to regularly see fellow inductee and 1964 World Champion Phyllis O'Donell.

"I do love the old stories of the surf culture and the impact it had on the lives and fashions in generations of that time. And I love that Phyllis O'Donell was the first ever crowned World Champion because they crowned the women first, and she is from the same area that I grew up surfing. "I was always stoked to see her around Kingscliff when I was growing up."

Surfing Australia Chief Executive Officer Andrew Stark said the night was an historic moment for the sport. "What a fantastic night for our sport and one that will certainly become entrenched in the history books as one of the great celebrations of the sport," Stark said.  "We certainly celebrated the 50th Anniversary in style and we are very proud of the event itself with so many amazing ambassadors in attendance to celebrate. It was a gathering of the surfing tribe from grassroots to the greatest champions."

The Australian Surfing Awards is proudly supported by the NSW Government, through Destination NSW, and is a key event on the NSW Events Calendar.

"It's always an honour to represent the Government at events like the awards, but I was especially proud to be able to celebrate the champions of one of my favourite sports," said NSW Treasurer and Member for Manly Mike Baird.

In other awards announced during the ceremony, current ASP Men's World Champion Joel Parkinson was named the Male Surfer of the Year; Gilmore was named Female Surfer of the Year; and ASP Men's World Junior Champion Jack Freestone won the Rising Star Award.

Ten-times Molokai paddleboard champion, big wave rider and SUP champion Jamie Mitchell won the Waterman of the Year Award. The ASB Surfing Spirit Award was won by Misfit Aid, which is the not-for-profit arm of Sydney-based surfboard manufacturer Misfit Shapes. Its aim is to design, implement and resource aid and development projects in communities around the world.

The Peter Troy Lifestyle Award for the person who has given their life over to surfing and in doing so has enriched the surfing culture around them was won by surfing historian Bob Smith. The Surf Culture Award was won by The Reef, a co-production by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Tura New Music. It is a multimedia performance inspired by the rugged surf and tough desert landscape of the Ningaloo Coast in north-west Australia.

The Simon Anderson Club Award was won by Kirra Surfriders Club, which celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2012.

Peter 'Joli' Wilson's photo of the wave Cloudbreak off Fiji during the enormous run of swell in June won the Nikon Surf Photo of the Year and Storm Surfers 3D featuring Ross Clarke-Jones and Tom Carroll was named the Nikon Surf Movie of the Year.

The Australian Surfing Awards is also supported by the Australian Sports Commission, Nikon, Destination NSW, VB, Suncorp, TravelSIM, Australasian Surf Business Magazine and the Federal Government's Illicit Drugs in Sport Program.

2013 AUSTRALIAN SURFING AWARDS WINNERS

Australian Surfing Hall of Fame Inductee: Stephanie Gilmore
Australia's Most Influential Surfer 1963-2013: Mark Richards
Male Surfer of the Year: Joel Parkinson
Female Surfer of the Year: Stephanie Gilmore
Rising Star: Jack Freestone
Waterman of the Year: Jamie Mitchell
ASB Surfing Spirit Award: Misfit Aid
Peter Troy Lifestyle Award: Bob Smith
Surf Culture Award: The Reef - by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Tura New Music
Simon Anderson Club Award: Kirra Surfriders Club
Nikon Surf Movie of the Year: Storm Surfers 3D
Nikon Surf Photo of the Year: Peter 'Joli' Wilson





Stephanie Gilmore ©Surfing Australia
Cloudbreak ©Joli

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