DEFENDING CHAMP: Luke Stickley will face strong opposition in attempting to retain his Ben King Memorial Surf Classic title this weekend.
DEFENDING CHAMP: Luke Stickley will face strong opposition in attempting to retain his Ben King Memorial Surf Classic title this weekend. FILE

Legends make tough competition at Ben King surf classic

DEFENDING champion Luke Stickley can expect plenty of competition at the Ben King Memorial Surf Classic this weekend.

The Byron Bay surfer will be up against the likes of former world No 3 Danny Wills and Lennox Head's Stu Kennedy.

Soli Bailey will also compete, fresh off winning the open division at the Australian Indigenous Championships at Bells Beach in Victoria last week.

It is the 40th running of the event, which is organised by the Byron Bay Boardriders.

"Most of the divisions are full but we try to accommodate everyone," vice-president Neil Cameron said.

"It's a pretty iconic event and not many other contests cover all the divisions like we do.

"We've had people who have been coming here for years while other people are just discovering it.

"It caters for everyone, and the kids and parents can both surf."

Australian surfing legends Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew and Mark Occhilupo will surf with their boys.

It is the second time the event has run in June - it was previously known as the Easter Surf Classic.

It was moved to avoid the Easter crowds that visit Byron Bay for Bluesfest.

The contest was renamed in 2006 after club stalwart Ben King died while competing in an event at Yamba.

His widow Jenny is still president of the Byron Bay Boardriders Club with this the biggest event on their calendar.

"Months of preparation goes into it and it's such a big event now," Cameron said.

"We have paid judges and commentators and you get more than 200 surfers here.

"It doesn't just happen. A lot of people continue to put work into it and we're well supported by our sponsors."

The three-day competition will be a mobile event, held at either Byron Bay or Broken Head.

Competition starts tomorrow with the finals on Monday.

The presentation will be held on Monday night at the Railway Hotel with a trip to Hawaii and other prizes up for grabs.



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