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For the first time since surfing’s boom in popularity in the 1960s, leaders of Surf Life Saving NSW and Surfing NSW have reached an agreement between the two state bodies. Increased cooperation, strong developmental pathways for athletes, and shared industry knowledge are just some of the many benefits for Australia’s coastal communities.

A Memorandum of Understanding is being signed by Surf Life Saving NSW President David Murray, and Luke Madden (Surfing NSW CEO), which heralds a new era of cooperation.

Some of the features of the new agreement include lifeguards and lifesaving assets provided to increase safety at Surfing NSW competitions, while the Surf Life Saving Academy will conduct First Aid Training for the Maroubra-based organisation.

Additionally Surfing NSW will provide fully accredited judges to the Midford NSW Board Riding Championships, and both organisations will cross promote events and development opportunities for their members.

“We are delighted to officially sign this MOU with Surfing NSW and look forward to our relationship continuing to grow,” said SLSNSW President David Murray.

“It’s a wonderful chance for our two organisations to share knowledge and introduce members to a diverse range of new opportunities.

“At the end of the day we both share the same passion for the ocean and many of our members are keen surfers when they are not volunteering on patrol,” he said.

Surfing NSW CEO Luke Madden says he’s excited for this partnership to come to fruition.

“We’re coming together to make our beaches safer and we’re stoked that we can work together officially now. We’ll be bringing to life combined initiatives like our Surfers Rescue 24/7 water safety program - providing CPR & board rescue techniques to surfers. SLSNSW has helped with the growth of this program that is now engaging and empowering surfers along the entire NSW coastline to help out when there are no lifeguards or patrols available.

"Many of our top international athletes like two-time world surfing champion Tom Carroll and North Narrabeen’s Laura Enever, have been involved in their local Surf Life Saving clubs throughout their lives. Their ties to both our communities highlight the natural synergy and love of the beaches we share." 

Australian surfing legend and pioneer Simon Anderson of North Narrabeen, invented the thruster (3-fin) Surfboard setup in 1980. Anderson was brought up in the Surf Life Saving movement in the midst of the historical separation of the two groups. 

"Throughout the 1960s I was a member of Collaroy Surf Life Saving Club as a Nipper and went onto completing my Bronze Medallion with the club. I competed in the State Titles but wasn’t keen on doing patrols so as surfing flourished throughout the 60s, I naturally moved away from the surf club. 

"The relationship between surfers and surf lifesavers soured during this time because there wasn’t a good understanding of each other’s needs. Surfboards were big and a safety hazard to swimmers and lifesavers would place the flags in the best surf spots on the beach without consideration. The conflict increased when local councils brought in a registration fee for surfboards, and it was the lifesavers that had to enforce the fines and confiscate boards.

“These days there is a better understanding of each other’s requirements on the beach. The partnership is a good fit because surf lifesavers aren’t patrolling the beach seven days and out of hours, surfers are almost always out there and perform many rescues. It’s beneficial for everyone that we have a good relationship because water safety is what we’re all about.” 

Newport SLSC’s elite academy head coach and international surf journalist Nick Carroll said, “everyone’s heard about the bad blood between surf lifesavers and surfers, but lesser known is that both have been cooperating for years now. There’s the mythology and the reality, and the reality is that surf clubs can do with really great surfers on their side during an incident. It’s in the club’s greater interest to upskill surfers and help them out because when there’s no one else on the scene, they can save lives.”

With the agreement now firmly in place and a strong bond between the two organisations, lifesavers and surfers will be riding the same waves for many years to come. 

The 2018 Midford NSW Board Riding Championships will be held at North Narrabeen from Friday 7 – Sunday 9 September inclusive. The opening heats will get underway from 7:30am AEST.

The Management Teams From Surf NSW and Surf Life Saving NSW came together ahead of the formal signing of the MOU.

Friday 7 September 2018