Byron Bay pair take surf titles
BYRON Bay surfers Garrett Parkes and Danny Wills emerged as winners at the Ben King Memorial Easter Surf Classic at Suffolk Head Beach yesterday.
Wills won the seniors, while Parkes took the open division for the second consecutive year.
Formerly known as the Easter Surf Classic, the event was renamed in 2006, when Byron Bay Boardriders Club stalwart Ben King died suddenly of a heart attack while competing at an event in Yamba.
Parkes, who competes in the World Qualifying Series, rates the win as one of the best of his career.
"It's definitely a big thing," Parkes said.
"I grew up around him (King) and his family and I've surfed at the event for as long as I can remember.
"It's a win you want next to your name and its one of the best things I've ever done."
The Byron Bay Boardriders Club has hosted the event since its inception in the 1970s and it has become one of Australia's longest-running amateur surf contests.
Parkes, who was pushed to the limit by fellow WQS surfer and 2010 winner Stu Kennedy, was lucky to make the final after snapping his board in the semi-finals.
"I tried to do a big snap back on the lift and it broke at my feet," Parkes said.
"It cut my feet but it wasn't anything too serious.
"Danny Wills went and got a spare board for me and brought it down to the beach."
Parkes said to win the event alongside Wills made it even more special. Wills is a former world No.3 and WCT surfer.
"He is an old Byron Bay legend and a good mate," Parkes said.
It was a big weekend for King's widow Jenny. She is now club president and had her two eldest children competing.
"We had near-perfect conditions and we couldn't have asked for more," she said.
"There were about 150 competitors and everyone got to surf.
"A lot of people put their heart and soul into the event and there was a good vibe on the beach all weekend.
"I've always been involved in the club and it's great to see people that started surfing at the event as juniors bringing their kids now while they compete in the seniors," she said.
"It's a family-orientated event and my kids helped me with a lot of it, so I'm very proud."
Parkes has his sights set on WQS events in the United States and Brazil later this month.