Waverley Council celebrates local champion, Pauline Menczer

Swellnet Dispatch

27th March, 2021: Waverley Council will investigate options for the appropriate recognition of 1993 World Surfing Champion and former Bondi resident Pauline Menczer whose story is featured alongside other women trailblazers on the formative professional tour in the new documentary Girls Can’t Surf.  

Mayor of Waverley, Paula Masselos, moved a Mayoral motion at the March meeting of Council acknowledging Menczer as an “unsung hero” whose momentous achievement in a sport dominated by men in the 1980s and 1990s deserved formal recognition by Council.  

Menczer (pictured- below) is the only person from Bondi to win the World surfing title but did not receive any prizemoney or sponsorship. 

“I didn’t want this story of a forgotten World Champion to end there,” Mayor Masselos said. “I believe that Waverley needs to honour its golden girl of surfing and that Council needs to formally consider ways we can do that.”  

Options the Council will consider include:  

  • Including Menczer’s story in the Bondi Story Room at Bondi Pavilion (currently being renovated)  
  • Being featured on the Bondi Beach Sea Wall, which has been in operation since the late1970s and has featured a mix of street and contemporary art with strong messages throughout the decades 
  • A plaque, statue or other such suggestion.  

“Menczer was part of a trailblazing generation of female surfers and struggled throughout her career with rheumatoid arthritis and more recently pemphigus vulgaris, an excruciating skin condition. 

“To somehow put the pain of knotted hands and aching hands to one side and take out the World Title is no mean feat for any man or woman.”  

Menczer, who turned 51 this week, told the Council today that she was “honoured and excited” that Council was investigating ways to honour her achievements. 

“Council were always very supportive in my earlier surfing career and I was junior citizen of the year,” Menczer said. 

“I spent my entire childhood growing up on the beach in Bondi and Bronte with my brothers and it’s a very special place.

“Bondi has a huge part of my heart. I’ll always remember when one of my older twin brothers snapped his Coolite and I grabbed the other half and caught my first wave. I was addicted from that moment. 

“We were known as “the munchkins”, playing on the beach every day as with two sets of twins I think it was the way my mum stayed sane. 

“Recently with the media talk about a possible statue or mural, I’ve had so many messages of support from Bondi locals.  

“My long-lost family is back supporting me as strong as ever. I’m coming back to the old hood for a weekend next month for a surf event at the Bondi Bowlo and I can’t wait to catch a few waves with the grommets at South Bondi.” 

Menczer said she would tell her younger self that the tough times “were 100% worth it” and that she would “do it all over again in a heartbeat”. 

“The adventures and incredible places around the world I’ve seen are all thanks to surfing.  If I hadn’t of been blessed to grow up in Bondi my life may be a very different story. I really want young kids to see what you can achieve if you follow your dreams and work hard.  

“Even with a disability and a family who did it tough, I achieved my dream and I want people to be inspired and motivated from knowing my story. 

"For women I feel this is more current than anything. As they say, “If you can't see it, you can’t be it”.” 

Council officers will report back to Council in the near future detailing outcomes of its investigation and funding sources. 

The Sydney Morning Herald recently reported that a GoFundMe campaign established in February to raise $25,000 for Menczer to make up for the prizemoney she never received for winning the title has now exceeded more than $50,000 - Editor's Note: as of Mon 29th March it's $59,708 - and that Menczer has decided to donate anything more than the $25,000 target to deserving causes including a man with the same illness in the Philippines who she has previously supported when she could, a disabled surfing association and an autoimmune disease charity. The money she keeps will take the stress away from her medical expenses to treat an illness that causes painful blisters and burns on her skin, the Herald reported. 

Comments

radiationrules's picture
radiationrules's picture
radiationrules Monday, 29 Mar 2021 at 12:01pm

I lived in Bondi in the period where she went from grommet to world champion - it was impressive to witness - her dedication and focus - all power to you Pauline, a peoples champion, from an era when scum valley was bereft of airs and graces.

Chocalatte's picture
Chocalatte's picture
Chocalatte Monday, 29 Mar 2021 at 12:44pm

About time our councils did more than token recognition of world surfing champs!
Naughty Pauls has actually won 2 world championships: the ISA Women's crown in 1988 & ASP World Professional crown in '93, as highlights of her 19 years competing on the world stage, which also included 3 times world pro #2. Absolutely a fair dinkum champion, 1 of only 9 women in the Australian Surfing Hall Of Fame!

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Monday, 29 Mar 2021 at 1:56pm

Pretty sure I gave Pauline money for her tour attempt at Byron years and years ago at some kind of stall she’d set up in the street there. Is my memory deceiving me or can anyone else remember seeing her set up in the street too?

Stoked she won. Don’t know much about her beyond being a hard core battler which you’ve got to admire. Her story about going to West Africa and the drug-fcked chief dishing out the advice is unreal. I’ll leave that story for someone who can tell it better than me but it’s got it all - exploration, intrigue, uncrowded waves, ritualistic murder, hallucinogenic drugs, hopes and dreams and nudity.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Monday, 29 Mar 2021 at 2:24pm

I'm really happy that Pauline is finally getting some long overdue recognition. Fearless in the water, humble on land and by the sounds of it, generous in spirit.

Hell, if they can immortalise a women in bronze for one kick of a footy (whose name I doubt many can recall off the top of their heads) then Pauline should at least have a plaque.

Somehow I don't think Pauline would be too concerned either way though.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming Monday, 29 Mar 2021 at 5:34pm

Why didn't she get any prize money?

She never had sponsors because she just wasn't the good looking blonde haired surfer girl yeah? (like Pam & Wendy)...that sucks arse.

Of all the women surfers of that era i always liked her surfing the best, she had a lot of flow.

I don't know how or why but i ended up hanging out and drinking with her at the Torquay pub one Bells when the offshore festival was there, she was a cool girl just real down to earth exactly as you would expect.

Anyway happy for her.

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster Monday, 29 Mar 2021 at 9:58pm

Good on her!

Admired her tenacity back in the day.

She deserves every (overdue) accolade that comes her way.

I focus's picture
I focus's picture
I focus Monday, 29 Mar 2021 at 11:00pm

Remember her having a go at Margs and going over the falls... brave heart.

Cookie1's picture
Cookie1's picture
Cookie1 Tuesday, 30 Mar 2021 at 12:11pm

Yep I focus I was there too. 1990. I don't live down there but by far the biggest I have ever seen Margs. She got absolutely destroyed, held under for an eternity and then paddled back out. One of the gutsiest efforts I've ever seen - respect.

rrr's picture
rrr's picture
rrr Tuesday, 30 Mar 2021 at 6:57am

i remember that biig day at margies too . commitment and guts .. shamed some of the guys that day . recognition well deserved .

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg Tuesday, 30 Mar 2021 at 11:49am

She's a true champion in every way. It speaks such volumes of her character that she carries no bitterness, anger or resentment; just pure light and positivity.
About time she was recognised locally and more so everywhere within the surfing community, albeit the cynic in me sees a healthy dose of political opportunism.
But fuck that negativity from me!!
Onya Pauls!!! We love ya!!