Buy Brendo Newton's Board!

Dan Dobbin picture
Dan Dobbin (dandob)
Swellnet Dispatch

In the early 2000's, bodyboarders had a chip on their collective cultural shoulders.

The desire to prove to the wider surfing world their hardcore credentials became an obsession, an obsession that drove a heavy wave riding arms race. Every new bodyboarding magazine issue or video seemed to feature riders throwing themselves into more and more mutant death slabs for a shot at a little fame.

At the forefront of this was Brenden Newton, a Northern Beaches-raised hellman and unique individual who was on a mission to ride the heaviest wave in history. 

His mission climaxed on a trip dubbed 'The Road' for the now defunct Riptide bodyboard magazine. Fifteen kilometres from land in four metre swells, Brenden threw himself over the ledge of a never before ridden bombie.

Now he's seeking to use the board he rode during this legendary adventure to raise funds for AIME, the indigenous student mentoring program that he has dedicated his life to post-professional bodyboarding career. Read on to find out more.

Can you share with us the story of finding the wave you rode this board on?
After doing two doco-style surf vids with Mickey Smith - 'Against the Grain' and 'A Blank Canvas' - I was feeling a pull towards doing a film project that would completely transcend normality, I suppose.

Living in Oz and having a few buddies who had done some time in a particularly promising archipelago of WA islands, I threw everything at this one.

The first month of the trip all sorts of shit went down: blown four wheel drive head gasket, fellow team member hospitalised from a Cyclops gash, stranded fuel-less on the Nullarbor, and just a heap of wild shit. We scored some crazy Cyclops and Margs sessions. However, with a sense of climax upon us, the magazine deadline approaching fast - we had forty pages committed to the bi-monthly Riptide issue, and we wanted the cover -  and with a huge, groomed swell due to hit the archipelago we got fired up - probably too fired up.

Having launched our dodgy boat and ski on dusk with the intention to rip across the thirty kilometres of rugged headlands and dunes, to camp in prime position to check Cyclops at sunrise, we got ourselves stuck at sea as the light faded to black. Fearing death, two hours navigating dozens of islands in a building four metre swell, 100 kilometres from civilisation, in seas professional fisherman come unstuck in, we hit a point of surrender. We found ourselves intuitively following a set of stars to safety and a surprisingly comfortable sleep anchored in a protected bay, in the middle of nowhere.

Myself and Ryan Mattick slept for eight hours in our wetsuits, on our boards - on the blue board I'm selling actually - aboard our 5.4 metre boat. Upon reuniting with the gang, who took the four wheel drive route, we discovered an infrared search helicopter had been sweeping the area from midnight till sunrise and that our families were grieving on the other side of the continent. 

With a heightened sense of trust and vigilance we took to the seas in the search of what seemed destined to be the climactic session at the wave now known as 'Salty Dogs'. It really was like destiny; having checked a few spots beyond the horizon we pulled up to a small explosive cement mixer of a bombie about fifteen kilometres from shore. My first reaction was, as I said to the lads aboard, "I don't think it's rideable".

However, it seemed serendipity kicked in and we slowly went wave for wave fueled by almost a metaphysical drive to see the project through. After what was probably the best makeable barrels I'd ever ridden, I threw it all at the wall and launched into that historic wave that sent me 150 kilometres to the plastic surgeon's operating table for 63 stitches in my face and arm. 

All in all I'm really proud of that mission, that wave, and what we accomplished; sensing there was a degree of destiny attached to the whole saga.

(Luke Axisa)

Can you tell us your motivation for selling this board?
Kinda like paddling into big waves - I like taking risks. Furthermore, with 1% of the world owning 50% of the world's wealth, I figured I'd try to use the item of mine which probably has the most social value, to shift some wealth into the lives of kids who could use it.

AIME's a program I bank on, because I can see all the inner workings, I'm friends with the Founder and CEO, and we've proven an SROI of 8.9, which means that every dollar invested in AIME returns approximately $8.90 in economic benefit to society. So 20K is really 178K.

What is AIME and what does your work with them entail?
AIME's a global mentoring program training and matching volunteer mentors with marginalised kids in ten countries, with 25,000 kids and counting.

More deeply, AIME's a social network for good: deferring from narrow algorithmic pathways that are based on what and who we know, to the engagement of over 150,000 people globally from age 9 to age 90 based on what and who we don't know - a social network of unlikely connections, hell-bent on building a fairer world together.

Over the few years at AIME we've gone turbo inventive. Beyond our core mentoring programs on the ground in Australia, and around the world, we created a live mentoring tool on YouTube called IMAGI-NATION {TV} and invented our own university as a system-wide training tool to alleviate inequality. We're currently building our own social network in the form of a virtual nation that fosters unlikely connections between the powerful and the powerless to accelerate exchanges of opportunities to make them fairer called IMAGI-NATION. And what's a movement or a revolution without a symbol, and ours is the iconic AIME hoodie that connects everyone from around the world, committed to building a fairer world with us.

My role at AIME is to tell the story, to recruit mentors, partners, schools, universities, and all sorts of unlikely characters in order to build both the mentoring programs and this social network for good.

(Pete Balmer)

I'm activated to use the heart and discipline of my Lieutenant Colonel father, the rebelliousness of my mother, and the nous gleaned from finding and riding mountains out to sea on my bodyboard.

Over the last eight years, I ran the mentoring program on the NSW South Coast for over 1,000 Aboriginal kids, recruiting over 400 mentors from within uni lecture theatres to chip in on the gig. I then drove around America, going door to door, inviting leaders from minority backgrounds to jump on our chartered flight from LA to Sydney, to attend the world's first Festival of Mentoring, to recieve training to take AIME to their USA hometowns upon return. 

As I said, I now find people from all over the world, to plug into AIME in a variety of ways .

Can you describe how you came to work for AIME once your professional bodyboarding career ended?
Having run the race in the boog scene for several years, I was suffering pretty severely with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder so I bunkered down at home with my fiance, finding solace on the lawns of the local Aboriginal community - Jerringa. It was here I started to tap into a very palpable sense of spirit. When I spent time with this community I felt I was home. This sensation still manifests to this day.

On a practical level I committed to four years of an education degree, something relatively streamline and routine that I felt I could manage in the midst of a very difficult time mentally. Upon graduating from said degree I was invited as guest speaker to the local AIME program, at which point I was attracted to the degree connection in the room, filled with 60 plus Aboriginal kids and volunteer mentors. Following that, I didn't even attend my teachers accreditation interviews; I'd made a decision to work with this group, AIME. I applied for five roles, each located in different states of Australia - I was committed.

Sitting in the interview room with AIME Founder and CEO, Jack Manning Bancroft, I was asked the question, 'What do I think leadership is?' My reply was to recall the Salty Dogs session seven years earlier where I was the first to jump from the boat and first to catch a wave. Jack asked me to take a leadership role within the organisation as Centre Manager.

This was an important moment for me, as over the following four years I was able to use this commitment to slowly navigate myself out of some very serious mental illness. My eight years working with Jack has been a mixture of pain, euphoria, humility, and hope. For this I am thankful.

(Chris Frape)

Are there any other ways people can be involved in helping support AIME and it's programs?
As we round out the year at AIME, contributions towards my board raffle would be appreciated.

We have programs all over Australia, across the US and in Africa, for which people can volunteer as mentors for kids experiencing marginalisation. In the case that the program may not be close by, we have established a free university for social justice, for which anyone on the planet can apply for.

I also filmed a short video to support our aims.


stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Wednesday, 8 Dec 2021 at 4:17pm

Some more backstory, and the aftermath, of the Salty Dogs wave:


Bungan33's picture
Bungan33's picture
Bungan33 Wednesday, 8 Dec 2021 at 11:13pm a card carrying atheist maybe I backed the wrong bloody horse!!. Maybe I should offer a few more waves up to jesus.....he must be either a very funny bugger or a true bastard to hand you a cavern then smash you face first into the reef. Any theologians want to explain that one to me?

burzum's picture
burzum's picture
burzum Wednesday, 8 Dec 2021 at 4:37pm

Cool. Bit god bothery, but what ever gets you to paddle into such a mutant slab I guess...

crankitupto11's picture
crankitupto11's picture
crankitupto11 Wednesday, 8 Dec 2021 at 6:10pm

Brendo was in a bit of a weird headspace at the time of that old video. He talks more about it in a recent podcast he did with Chris White and the grinreapers crew:

fcalmon's picture
fcalmon's picture
fcalmon Wednesday, 8 Dec 2021 at 4:57pm

I think Jesus would have much more important things to do than get someone to ride a wave.
If there is such a dude...

crankitupto11's picture
crankitupto11's picture
crankitupto11 Wednesday, 8 Dec 2021 at 6:11pm

What a legend. And a good cause too!

Sprout's picture
Sprout's picture
Sprout Wednesday, 8 Dec 2021 at 7:59pm

Great to see people making an effort to improve people's lives, not just whinging on the internet. Good on ya Brendan!
Most of the bodyboarders I've met who are into heavy waves never wanted to prove anything to anyone but themselves. They're just fucking mental chargers lol.

Body slide's picture
Body slide's picture
Body slide Wednesday, 8 Dec 2021 at 9:56pm

What an intersection between clear minded and 100% nuts!
So heavy, so Rad!
Loved it.

JackStance's picture
JackStance's picture
JackStance Friday, 10 Dec 2021 at 12:07pm

Brendo is a really good, thoughtful, and decent person, who sets an excellent example of doing the right thing, all things considered.

groundswell's picture
groundswell's picture
groundswell Friday, 10 Dec 2021 at 9:22pm

Good cause and everything like that but to me it appears like that board would be worth $300 no more, rich kids might want it but i certainly wouldn't want to pay over $100 for a beat up board that got several stress creases and elbow dings. I know its part and parcel with surfing cyclops at 8-10 feet and Brendo may have good memories and bad ones too, i just dont see how the board would be worth anything to anyone, not more than $300 unless they are loaded. i mean its got nostalgic value to Brendo not anyone else.
Good luck and im hoping im wrong.
Just the way i see it

Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams's picture
Robwilliams Saturday, 11 Dec 2021 at 1:45pm

Brendo was copping shit for his religious beliefs along time ago, that aside, He went against the grain and was charging with or with out his beliefs. He took it to another level in waves of consequence all over Australia and the world (sometimes solo) at a young age. Kinda surprising he didn't die. All the best to him and his future work for positive change and and finding mental peace.

surfing-cronulla's picture
surfing-cronulla's picture
surfing-cronulla Sunday, 2 Jan 2022 at 10:30pm

Yeah Rob knew Brendo for a while, early 2000's chatted a lot at Endless and "god" never came up? Had no idea he was a christian, was all about waves, pranking Alex Bunting, Kingy or the latest Riptide?
Called him to see how his trip was going and it was 3 am wherever it was, some islands middle of the Pacific ocean? can't remember, but he was cool about it. Ooops time zones again but always a great guy and charged for a little guy (back then).