SURFING HISTORY: Charles Ben (Pa) Bendall and wife Marjory (Ma).
SURFING HISTORY: Charles Ben (Pa) Bendall and wife Marjory (Ma). Contributed

Community celebrates surf classic anniversary

SURFERS from across Australia will converge on Caloundra over the Easter weekend for the 40th anniversary of the Pa and Ma Bendall Memorial Surf Classic at Moffat Beach.

The event will mark the culmination of a three-year plan by the Windansea Surf Club to do the occasion proud.

The signing of the Henzells Foundation and M and B Rigging as major sponsors and the shift of the event three years ago to the Easter weekend were calculated moves that have restored the event's rightful place at the heart of Australian surfing.

The second-longest running professional surf contest behind the Bells Classic, the Pa and Ma Bendall Memorial Classic does not boast the huge prizemoney now offered at world tour events.

The first event's $1500 prizemoney in 1974 was the largest then on offer in Australia. This Easter, the winner of the prestigious Open Men's title will pocket only $500 more than that.

FLASHBACK TO 2007: Dave Reardon Smith takes out the Open Division in the Ma and Pa Bendall Memorial Contest.
FLASHBACK TO 2007: Dave Reardon Smith takes out the Open Division in the Ma and Pa Bendall Memorial Contest.

But while the amount of money on the table in 1974 may have attracted every professional surfer in the country including eventual winner Richard Harvey, Wayne (Rabbit) Bartholomew who would go on to claim a world title, Simon Anderson who would win Bells and produce the first three-fin surfboards and Hawaiian legend Gerry Lopez, it does not explain the event's enduring appeal.

Club spokesman Daryn Fissenden says that while many surfing events had gone corporate, the Pa and Ma had gone community.

The contest celebrates surfing's ties to the Caloundra community, the sport's history and characters it contains.

Fissenden says the event, apart from being well-run, has a special feel to it that surfers want to tap into. Maybe that's why inaugural winner Richard Harvey and fellow competitor Terry "Sultan of Speed" Fitzgerald will both be at the event, adding their authorative voices to the commentary and providing a living legend component to the rich display of memorabilia that will be part of what is very much a festival of surfing.

And it could also explain why Joan Petersen, the mother of the late Coolangatta legend Michael "MP'' Petersen, has chosen to spread the last of her son's ashes in the waters off Moffat Beach during this year's event.

"She told me Michael had a fond affair with Moffats,'' Fissenden said.

That fond affair netted Petersen the 1975 and 1976 Pa Bendall Classic titles in a career that burnt bright all too briefly but left a legacy that endures to this day.

Local boy Wade Goodall, who last won in 2012, and six-time winner Dave Reardon Smith, whose last victory was in 2008, will both challenge for the Open crown.

So, too, will a host of surfers keen to have their name etched on a trophy that already bears the names of current world champion Joel Parkinson - a two-time winner - and local stars including John Mills, Robbie Sherwell, Brett Peacock, Darren Mage, Ben Silk, Sasha Stocker, Bubba McLean, Trevor Tripcony, Nathan Hedge, Matt Clark, Jake Colreavy and defending champion Dale Lovelock as well as world tour surfers Mark Richardson, Dominic Wibrow and Robbie Page.

WINNING STYLE: Wade Goodall in action in a Pa and Ma Bendall event.
WINNING STYLE: Wade Goodall in action in a Pa and Ma Bendall event.

The 1978 winner Tony "Doris" Eltherington last year showed remarkable seamanship to guide his Mentawai surf tour vessel Barrenjoey in the successful search for South African surfer Brett Archibald, lost overboard for more than 28 hours from another boat, the Nagu Laut.

The 2013 Australian Surfing Waterman of the Year recipient was delighted to pose with the Pa trophy when Windansea mounted a display at the Gold Coast Surf Expo in February.

That display, which contains key elements of the successful Christmas Surfing the Decades exhibition in Caloundra, will be on show throughout the contest along with food and surf product stalls.

Divisional councillor Tim Dwyer will be on hand to present proceeds of the Surfing the Decades exhibition to the Disabled Surfing Association. Divisions finclude Over 50s, Over 40s, senior men, cadets, junior boys and women.

The inaugural Pa Bendall Memorial Contest was staged in 1974 as a mark of respect for Charles Ben (Pa) Bendall who died the previous year.

Pa was considered the grandfather of surfing in Queensland, a former US air force pilot who settled in Caloundra in the 1950s with his wife Marjory (Ma).

Surf's up

WHAT: 40th anniversary of the Pa and Ma Bendall Memorial Surf Classic.

WHERE: Moffat Headland

WHEN: April 18, 19, 20

PROGRAM: 6.30am start daily on April 18, 19. Finals April 20 - start to be advised.

ACTIVITIES: Food and surf gear stalls in Moffat Park; surfing history display.

SATURDAY NIGHT: Celibate Rifles, Kings Beach Tavern.

SUNDAY: Presentations on beach after Open final. After- party at Currimundi Hotel.

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