:: 50 Years On


This past weekend marked the 50th Anniversary of the first official World Championships of Surfing, which was held at Manly Beach 16-17 May 1964. The anniversary seems to have slipped by quietly and apart from an article published in the Manly Daily the surfing media seems to have forgotten. Reading the entry on the event online at the Encyclopaedia of Surfing as well as John Morcrombe's article in the Manly Daily, you get a sense that the 1964 World Championships of Surfing came at a junction in history where creative freedoms were just beginning to be explored while at the same time the influence of the old world was slipping.  Men in suits on the beach, mixed with the rebels and gentlemen of surfing while the local radio station hosted a "stomp". A progressive Mayor of Manly preached the virtues of surfing as a means to raising the town's profile internationally while local businesses were slow to reap the benefits.  The sense of optimism on the beach that weekend 50 years ago set the wheels of professionalism in motion and would spawn an industry of 'cool' that eventually be worth billions.

In 2014 it seems we may have gone full circle, or perhaps full circle and then some.  The surf industry stalwarts are just beginning to emerge from the near disaster of the combination of the GCF and a loss of relevance, the Association of Surfing Professionals is feeling its way through its maiden year under the umbrella and the greatest surfer of all-time is surfing heats stckerless; it's little wonder the 50th Anniversary of 1964 slipped past hardly rating a mention.

We're certainly at a junction in surfing once again, but perhaps we could do with a little bit of that optimism from back in 1964