The tide that refused to budge
FORTY years ago, when the then Woodburn Shire Council voted to ban surfboards on Evans Head’s Main Beach, a newly formed organisation stepped in to defend the sport.
The Half-Tide Board Riders’ Club, chaired by founding president Ken Miles, negotiated a deal and the emerging pastime remained.
In the intervening years, surfing has become bigger than Waimea yet few local clubs can boast such a history as that of the Half-Tide mob at Evans.
Tonight, at the Evans Head Bowling Club, anyone who was ever involved in the Half-Tide experience will celebrate four decades of great surfing.
Two years ago, the club was included in the Surfing Hall of Fame, winning the Mark Richards’ club of the year trophy for its role as a community-minded entity.
While it hasn’t revealed any ASP World Tour champions yet, with the exception of Gary ‘Kong’ Elkerton – and he really cut his teeth on the Sunshine Coast – it has triumphed against some big name clubs in the past.
Prior president Kev Aleckson, 46, was 16 when Half-Tide trounced Burleigh.
And a few of the older members recall the likes of Mike Peterson travelling down to compete at Evans Head along with other members of the Kirra club – Terry Fitzgerald, Joe Larkin and Peter Townsend.
The club’s founder, Ken Miles, arrived in Evans Head from Cronulla in 1968 and helped form the club with the likes of Peter and Mark Robertson, David Raynor – who owned a surf shop in Lismore – Malcolm Chalmers, Stuart Cribb, Peter and Paul Zeibell, Neil Mersham, Dennis King and a swag of grommets nicknamed Skin, Chester, Wool, Bonny, Brute, Roland and Little Ern.
The new board riders’ club was soon challenged for its turf of the beach when the Evans Head-Casino Surf Lifesaving Club and the Woodburn Shire Council moved to ban boards in the town’s primary swimming area. As the heavy pin tails of the day never had a leg rope, the number of swimmers caught by a flying rail was enough to promote the draconian action.
Then councillor David Parkinson recalled the debate and said he understood the urgency given the number of loose board in the shorebreak.
But he felt a better compromise could be found.
George Paddon, son of the town’s founding father Captain Tom, even offered to donate rope and some of his fish and lobster trap floats to mark an area for surf board riders.
In the end a compromise was worked out, and despite several decades of antagonism between board riders and surf club members, the atmosphere on the beach today is united.