Saturday January 10, 2015 was the 100th year anniversary of Duke Kahanamoku igniting Australian Surf Culture and was the final day of celebrations that commenced with a never to be repeated gala dinner on Thursday 8 January which set the tone for the rest of the event.
For the past 4 years the Freshwater Surfing Community has been gearing up for the one in 100 year celebration and all their effort and planning resulted in what the locals said was "one of the best events on the Northern beaches in many a moon".
With activities starting on Friday with a lei draping ceremony, swimming events and all forms of surfing exhibitions from surf riding, body surfing, tandem surfing and ancient crafts there was plenty happening for young and old. The vibrant atmosphere that was
Photo Courtesy Paul MIlinkovic
appropriate to the occasion was added to by further exhibitions in the park and the clubhouse. Friday was rounded out by a cocktail party for more than 500 people.
The feature of Saturday’s events was a special re-enactment of the surfing display that Duke thrilled the crowd with on that January day in 1915. It was a 100 years on and the great Hawaiian surfer, Duane De Soto, rode an exact replica of the 38 kg board Duke made on his visit to Australia in the summer of 1914/15. De Soto impressed the crowd with being able to effortlessly ride the finless board. He then depicted the selection of Claude West who was taken for a surf by Duke by selecting Tom Myers from the crowd for that famous surf lesson. Following this was the outstanding tandem surf display with young Lilly McDonald playing the part of Isabel Letham thrilling the 5,000 plus crowd.
De Soto said after the event "For me to play Duke Kahanamoku as part of the 100 year celebration at Freshwater is humbling and a real honour. Duke is the father of modern surfing and one of Hawaii’s most respected citizens”.
In the club house there were Eco displays and programs keeping in with the community spirit of living green. In the historical Freshwater front clubhouse hall was a 100 year display of the evolution of the surfboard dedicated to Chris Drake who drowned trying to save a couple of young swimmers at the Curl Curl pool two years ago. There were 40 boards representing the major breakthrough designs an ancient boards the Hawaiians first used to a modern board made from materials from NASA
In the park were Duke Shacks that displayed all kinds of surf wear, art; and a Byron Bay surfer, Andy Ceglinski, made a surfboard from a wood log as was done by early Hawaiians.
The evening finished with a screening of the Award Winning documentary "A Deeper Shade of Blue in the park with state of the art projection on a huge screen. Despite some drizzling rain the crowd remained to enjoy this special occasion of the screening of a movie in the outdoors. One of the visiting Hawaiian surfers Joey Cabell said that “…in Hawaii when it rains at a celebration it a sign of blessing the event from the heavens, these are tears of joy coming from the Duke himself. This is the perfect conclusion at an amazing day."
In addition, the committee would like to thank all the major sponsors for their generosity as they have made this Centenary Celebration possible. The support from Warringah Council has ensured that the 100 year Celebration would be remembered. Other gold and major sponsors who made a significant contribution included Hawaiian Airlines, Hawaii Tourism, Patagonia, Harbord Diggers Mounties Group, Freshwater Community Bank and the Harbord Beach Hotel and their contribution is truly appreciated.
Thanks is also extended to our individual event sponsor, SNP Security who provided security around the board display, Clear Cost, Royal Wolf, Solid Racks, DJBee Surfboards, Surf Decals, Hot Grommet Surf Star Challenge, Ava Party Hire, Galvanize, Lifeguard International and Balmoral PaddleSurf. Their generosity has proved to be invaluable.