The Coca-Cola Surf Classic, Manly Beach 1987

Stu Nettle
The Rearview Mirror

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"No wave is too steep or too ferocious to conquer, it seems, in these days of high-powered, high-performance pro surfing."

So goes the text in the '87 Coke Classic souvenir guide explaining state of the art surfing to the lay reader. And yep, the 'steep and ferocious waves' include Manly Beach, where the 1987 Coke Classic was held. The guide was given away in Sydney's daily tabloid, The Daily Sun, and was targeted at the non-surfing punter. At least I hope it was, that's the only excuse for sentences such as this to exist:

"The sight of Martin Potter catapaulting off a collapsing wave or Mark Occhilupo floating over a tumult of whitewash can take the breath away."

Besides the wonderfully quaint copy and eye-straining font other highlights include a double-page spread by the Water Board (now Sydney Water) spruiking their soon-to-be built offshore outfalls. In 1987 Manly was one of the most polluted beaches in Sydney, owing to the North Head outfall, and the Water Board was on the PR propaganda trail.

The competition itself, which was the last in the 86/87 season was won by Damien Hardman who also won the world title. Held in windblown 3 foot surf at Queenscliff, Hardman beat his closest competitor, Gary Elkerton, in a semi final to take the title. It was Hardman's first world title - he won his second in 1991 - and the first of three runner-up placings to Elkerton.

Comments

benski's picture
benski's picture
benski commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 5:59pm

The good old days.

I can remember watching a coke classic (might have been 1988?) over and over again that I taped off wide world of sports. Thought it might have been held at Narra but probably Manly. I can still remember Todd Holland losing it on a wave and sliding onto his belly as he went down to bodysurf to the beach and big Darryl Eastlake loved it! Oh he's gone down but hang on, he's doin a bit of bodysurfing! I think it was Mark Warren who was on staff to give the analytical comment who pointed out that it probably wasn't going to get him a heat victory. I think Derek Ho got two clean barrels (which are the only two I remember from the video) to take the heat.

This was back when a floater was an awesome manouvre. Mark "Sanga" Sainsbury, didn't he do the first floater? Anyway, there was a great floater in that contest, might have been Shane Powell who rode for what seemed an eternity across the top of the tube. Man I wore that tape out hitting pause, rewind, play, and then doing a pseudo-slow mo by hitting pause/play/pause/play/pause/play/pause/play.

Gees. Those were the days, when the surf contests came to your door. Good times. Not like now, off to those crappy places like Teahupoo, Fiji and La Graviere.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 6:27pm

..."I think it was Mark Warren who was on staff to give the analytical comment who pointed out that it probably wasn't going to get him a heat victory. "

Ha ha. Mogga's intellectual yin to Big Dazza's enthusiastic yang. What a pair!

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 6:28pm

Does anyone else think David Stansfield is an American-lite version of Big Dazza Eastlake?

benski's picture
benski's picture
benski commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 6:40pm

Yeah it was pretty awesome. I've never heard David Stansfield (I don't think) but I wouldn't be surprised if the bloody seppoes stole yet another idea from that cute little country down under(!).

Yeah Big Darryl, legend. I think I read that he has alzheimers or something. Poor bastard.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 6:46pm

David Stansfield is the all-American bozo in the webcast booths these days. He plays baritone to Joe Turpel's alto.

Useless trivia #3795: the booklet above for the Coke Surf Classic - which was given away free in the Sun Herald, contains out of focus images and printed on tissue-thin paper - won the ASP World Media Award for 1987. Those were the days, eh? When a terribly quaint and unsophisticated promo booklet could win the top media gong.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 6:59pm

Stu, Benski, maybe you remember the 1978 2SM Coke Surfabout? Not sure whether it was Queeny or Narra but Larry Blair and Wayne Lynch going barrell for barrell in the most perfect beachbreak lefts.

Shaun Tomson commentating- "it's a real tube-riding tussle out there" in has classic saffa accent. I've been using that one for years.

And Larrys mid heat interview from the water with Nat Young, rubbing his hands with glee- "he's gettin done by the big ones- he he', been using that one for years too.

I still remember that one final as gold even though I was a little tacker back then.

1173

benski's picture
benski's picture
benski commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 7:06pm

Funny how lame it looks now. I wonder if teahupoo 2011 will ever look quaint or dated. I guess so. Switchfoot in the 12 foot baz might be needed to win in another 20 years.

benski's picture
benski's picture
benski commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 7:10pm

Ah you've dated me zen, just to early for me that one. But I love the idea of a mid heat interview! Although none of em'd probably do any good talking without their sponsor's hat on.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 7:35pm

Yeah, bit early for me too Zen but fortunately YooToob has come to the rescue:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahs7u09I-8E

Your quotes are spot on, and I also like this one from Shaun, "The more moves he does the more points he gets." Which wold explain the numerous zig and zags.

It was pretty good surf though, especially Blair's bazza toward the end. Chalk one up for the old boys who say 'it used to be better back in the day'.

sidthefish's picture
sidthefish's picture
sidthefish commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 8:07pm

spot on zen, those surfabouts were played over a series of weeks at 6.30 Saturday nites on Channel 9.

if I remember correctly, bit fuzzy I was only about 10. But do remember hootin' n hollarin' on me beanbag in front of the box.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 9:29pm

I was 10 too Sid.

That vid has been permanently ingrained in my memory.

And I do drag out those quotes quite often, especially on the rare occaisions I get to surf with my younger bro.

1173

sidthefish's picture
sidthefish's picture
sidthefish commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 10:58pm

hey, well you know, it was pre-vids.

surfabouts on those Saturday nites was the only surfing available outside the cinemas.

We used to go to Bert Cockerells' cimema at Palm Beach, Qld... Freeride, Tubular Swells, ah fuck, it was pandimonium. One nite, during a one of those surf movies, someone let off a battery acid bomb and the cinema had to be evacuated. Cops, fire engines, ambos.

One of those movies had Led Zepplin Live before the main movie, I woulda been 8ish and Led Zep live terrified me.

whaaaat's picture
whaaaat's picture
whaaaat commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 11:20pm

Stairway to Heaven still terrifies me. I can't walk past a guitar shop without holding me hands to me head and rocking to and fro....

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 11:27pm

I mind-surf to the backing of Kashmir.

1173

sidthefish's picture
sidthefish's picture
sidthefish commented Tuesday, 7 Feb 2012 at 11:30pm

and after the battery acid bomb, EVERY surf movie at Bert Cockerell's Cinema had cops parked out the front.

benski's picture
benski's picture
benski commented Wednesday, 8 Feb 2012 at 3:00am

Larry Blair won that? I would have given it to Thomson for the commentary.

Great footage tho! And we even got a frame of mike Gibson back in the studio at the end there.

the-roller's picture
the-roller's picture
the-roller commented Wednesday, 8 Feb 2012 at 7:47am

Does the fact that 25 years later, and people are still talking about a surf contest, prove positively the fact that contested surfing supported by corporate sponsors will never go out of business?

So, cue up the meaningless Rottymouthed Rottkamp comments, it's medication time!

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 8 Feb 2012 at 8:11am

Could just be that we're a bunch of rheumy-eyed, nostalgic bastards and these comps fell smack bang in the middle of our wonder years.

Maybe...?

the-roller's picture
the-roller's picture
the-roller commented Wednesday, 8 Feb 2012 at 8:24am

Stu,

Interesting enough the fact that the Coca Cola sponno money has been replaced by Red Bull AND Monster Energy Drink?

And yea, rottkamp?,...

Surfing is dead.

Long live surfing.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Wednesday, 8 Feb 2012 at 1:13pm

Yeah, and the rise of the energy drink has paralleled the growing popularity of the cafe, increased working hours and use of the term 24/7. Hmmm...there's a lot to think about there.

Might have to sleep on it.

fitzroy-21's picture
fitzroy-21's picture
fitzroy-21 commented Wednesday, 8 Feb 2012 at 2:02pm

Ah the memories. Pretty sure the 78 was at Queeny Zen. I remember hassling mum and dad to drive me down to watch it whenever it wasn't on at Narra. Surf was perfect and I remember thinking it was huge.

The ones at Narra, as groms, we would be sneaking around through the clubhouse stealing T-shirts out of the box's that were 10 times to big for us. Then getting chased by the organisers and the likes.

Bloody grom's!!!

marc atkinson's picture
marc atkinson's picture
marc atkinson commented Friday, 29 Jun 2012 at 3:44pm

1987 was the combination of massive highlights and a deep low for me and my mate back then - Barton Lynch.

The previous year we had formed a kick arse team, me and BL, and in the front two-thirds of the year BL had knocked off Curren and looked set for the title. One mag had him on the cover starting "The man who would be King".

Then when the tour hit Oz BL froze...full on, deer in the headlights choked! I couldn't reach him, no one could, he went so deep into his shell. Got a winning wave in his heat at Bells but froze and for 100m on an open face didn't do one turn. Lost the heat but still if he did OK in Wollongong he'd still have the title. I wasn't with him down the 'Gong, he was so freaked he went alone and again bombed out - this time to a young Sunny. I drove down the Gong after the first round loss. BL's chance of the title had gone with the loss and as you can imagine he was fucked out.

Back in Sydney I threw him in the car and we went to Anga for the week before the Coke at Manly. When we came back we planned an attack on the Coke. With the title lost and the pressure released BL got a second to Dooma in that final.

Why did BL get wobbly and lose focus and his grip on that '87 title? Two words - Greg Webber. BL made the biggest blunder earlier that year. Without consulting he jumped out of the ALOHA stable and went with Webber. Such are fools. Webber being what he is wouldn't listen and gave BL equipment that he wanted to shape and not boards that suited BL. After BL nearly lost in the second round of the Coke, I went and shelved his boards, pulled out his old board and re-sanded and wet & dryed it and he ripped on it at a training session then ate up the rest of the contest.

For your interest, check out how many contests BL won in '87.... You'll scratch your head wondering how he didn't get the title.