The Bells Beach 50 Year Storm
After five years of waiting, the inaugural 50 Year Storm event was held at Bells Beach yesterday. The surf was “storm surf” in the triple overhead size - 8-10ft - waves at the Bells Bowl.
Held in memory of former world junior surfing champion Shaun Brooks, the event isn’t so much about crowning a winner, but about the coming together of a community all in the name of raising awareness towards mental health issues.
There were many memorable moments throughout the morning, and three awards were handed out. Tim Stevenson took out the best surfer award and was deemed the winner - despite no sleep after working all night! “This is such a special event and I feel honoured to win this event today,"said Tim. "It was really fun, it was a storm and the reason behind the event is no joke.”
The diminutive giant killer, Angela Ball, won the Johnny Utah award with a late takeoff and then surfed all the way to the button after taking some heavy wipeouts earlier in the heat.
The oldest competitor, Jeff Sweeney - 56-years old - surfed what was considered to be the biggest wave of the day.
Lots of waves were ridden, there was plenty of stoke in all three heats, and for many it was one of the most fun events ever to be held at Bell Beach.
The field featured thirty publicly-voted local surfers, both male and female, from 16 to 56 years old. There were three heats of ten surfers, each judged on their best one wave out of 100 points. Many different surfboards were ridden from the 6ft to 9ft range.
The COVID restrictions for outside events were in place, with less than 80 people attending.
Shaun’s younger brother, Troy, a former WCT competitor, who was unable to attend due to covid restrictions said, “Our family is stoked that a bunch of Shaun’s mates have come together to put on not just an awesome memorial surfing event, but also drive support for mental health and youth suicide prevention. I was bummed that I couldn’t come down to compete in the event!”
Mental health is in the forefront of all our minds with the current Australia-wide lockdowns to stop the spread of Coronavirus. Isolation is one of the things that brings out the demons in all of us. Depression and anxiety are widespread due to social distancing, loss of income, and the fear of the virus spreading to loved ones. Talk to your mates, and ask the hard questions. Please, if you feel this way, reach out to your friends or one of our partners for help.
One in Five’s Gabrielle Sheehan said, "During COVID, we have all had resilience challenges and for some people they are experiencing mental distress for the first time. We need to do more than acknowledge mental health, we need to continue to do more to improve health outcomes. Everyone has a role to play".