Northern Star

Rip Curl pushes ahead with Lennox surf event

SURF brand giant Rip Curl is pushing ahead with plans to host a one-off professional World Tour surfing event off Lennox Point.

The brand's international advertising and marketing chairman, Neil Ridgeway, yesterday said he was completing necessary paperwork that could see the world's best surfers compete against selected locals in the Rip Curl Pro Search 2009.

"I have the application paperwork, it will be lodged," Mr Ridgeway said.

"We need to look at NSW legislation and (the restricted conditions of a) surfing reserve, but we will be doing that in the near future.

"Our next step, more importantly, is to get up there on the ground and talk to the relevant parties who may have concerns."

The Northern Star first broke the news of the event in February and has been inundated with letters from locals concerned the event would damage fragile ecosystems and set a precedent for future tournaments.

Currently finalising plans for the 2008 Rip Curl Pro Search set for July 30 at a location yet to be revealed, Mr Ridgeway said he would be coming to the area in the near future to speak to stake-holders about concerns.

"Even if we talk to every person in Lennox Head there's going be a certain percentage of people who don't want it and a certain percentage of those who do, and we can't make everyone happy," he said.

"We'll make our decision based on permitting and permission and the right kind of vibe.

"It is important to us that we respect everybody's opinion, but if we decide to do something we are going to do it, otherwise you'd sit around and never do anything.

"You can't make everybody happy all the time, it's just impossible.

"We just want to come in and use it and to comply with everything those governing bodies and local people want us to do - we're not bully boys who are here to change the face of your break."

Mr Ridgeway said he had even been met at his office in Torquay by surfers.

"They've made appointments to come and we've talked about some things that are simply rumour an innuendo; like that we've paid the local council a large amount of money and that we're going to build concrete toilet blocks and change the face of the area," he said.

"That's not our mandate at all. We just want to run a world-class surfing contest and not leave a footprint, and getting a consensus on what is the best legacy to leave is one of our next steps."

Mr Ridgeway said Rip Curl would do everything necessary to ensure the event had a minimal impact on the environment.

"We want to keep cars on the road ... and if you can't park on-site, then we'll run shuttle buses," he said.

"We'll put up a tower that once it's gone you won't even know it was there, and we're going to chuck up a few tents.

"We don't want to come there and build a permanent structure."

However, Mr Ridgeway acknowledges some of the most critical opposition have valid points.

"Old surfers should be listened to - they have a long-term affinity with the waves," he said.

"But localism and the negative connotations of localism are not important and there's a difference."

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