KSC History


Kirra Surfriders Club, 1962-2012

In the 1960’s as surfing in Australia boomed, a close knit and competitive group of ex surf club members and an expanding group of “grommies” established themselves in 1962 and decided to form Kirra Surfriders Club. A meeting was called in 1963. John Charlton who had the lease on the showers and kiosk gave permission to use the shower block as a meeting room and the clubs first official meeting was held in the ladies showers at Kirra Pavilion. Mal Sutherland chaired this first meeting with John Charlton and Joe Larkin present. Other members attending the first meeting were Allan Balmer, Barry Sutherland Curly Pinniger, Tony Butler, John Bryant, Graham Black, “Hacker” Allen, Laurie Calaghan Len Flaherty, Brian Woodrick, Brian Mercer, Carl, Robin and Denise Charlton. Tony Butler has no idea how he was elected as the first President at age 15 but to this day is proud that he has been associated with the club, the average age of club members was 17/18.

In November 1963 members organized a surfing trip from home to Perth and all the way back. Brian Austen, Errol Wright, Curly Pinniger, Jack Jones and Darryl “Blunk” Tafon set off on the trip of a lifetime that would last the whole year. On their return home in 1964 the first interclub, interstate comp was held against Maroubra (Kirra’s sister club) at Byron Bay. Maroubra had the support of Australian Surfing Association. Knowing that there were no clubs (except Kirra) or association established in Queensland, Bob Evans (founder and editor of Surfing World magazine and Surf Movie Producer) rang Joe Larkin and Mal Sutherland to see if they would form an association to organize the first Queensland Titles to select representatives to compete at the World Titles (Kirra were well represented). A meeting was held at the Kirra Beach Hotel. Elected President was Bill Stafford Snr, Vice President Mal Sutherland, Secretary Phylis O’Donell and Treasurer George Hawker. The Response to the formation was amazing, the following week the meeting room was packed with 100 or more surfers. The first Queensland Titles were held on 11th & 12th of April 1964 at Kirra after being postponed for a week due to cyclonic conditions. After the running of the 1st Queensland titles, the Association, (run mostly by Kirra members) encouraged the formation of Surfing Clubs in Queensland.

In the late 1960’s Kirra was considered one of the strongest surfing clubs in Australia and known all around the world due to the fact the club had Michael Peterson, Peter Townend and Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew all on the same surfing team. (The original Cooly 3). When Michael Peterson joined, Kirra Surfriders was running well with regular club rounds and numerous interclub clashes. MP honed his skills with the club and developed into Australia’s premier competition surfer. MP was sparing with the likes of PT, Rabbit, Dave McDonald and his brother Tom. In 1970 MP won the Kirra Pro Am, this began a phenomenal winning streak that saw him win many State, National & Professional titles, including 3 Bells in 73, 74 and 75 making him the undisputed Champion of Australia through to his swansong victory at the 1977 Stubbies Classic. MP was the leader of the short board revolution that shaped the 70’s era. He was inducted into the “Surfing Hall of Fame” in 1992.

All clubs have their ups and downs and Kirra is no different. In 1964 a few members decided to jump ship to nearby Snapper Rocks. Inter club comps were held between Kirra, Snapper, Currumbin and Wind & Sea at Kirra Point. There were also many legendary trips away to Byron Bay, where the Gold Coast locals “run amok”. In the Late 60’s Snapper had a change in name and became Tweed Heads Surfriders Club when they got a clubroom at D’Bar. In 1973 another splinter appeared at Kirra, which lead to the rebirth of Snapper Rocks Boardriders Club. For as long as the two local clubs have existed, many members have deflected from one club and back. With only the small stretch of beaches between Rainbow Bay and Kirrra,one Boardriders Club was never going to be enough! The rivalry continues today between the two clubs. All the grommies hang together at school and at the beach in the arvo’s, with the oldies sharing a few beers and stories at local watering holes, both clubs always support the local surfers when competing around the world but when a heat is on between them; they are enemies again.

Around 1985 the Club changed the format of the Kirra Pro Am to become a team’s event. The ”Kirra Teams Challenge” was born and is now the world’s largest inter-club surfing teams event. It is the trophy that every club in Australia wants to have their name on! Over many years the Kirra Team Challenge has survived with the help of dedicated members. Clubs from all around Australia emerge onto the Gold Coast for 3 days of surfing and an even bigger weekend of partying. As long as our visitors get to surf the best breaks in the world with only four other guys in the water they keep coming.

Over the last ten years alone, Kirra Surfriders Club Inc has given out an amazing amount of $132,822.00 in prize money through the Teams challenge and more recently the Junior Kirra Teams Challenge. Kirra not only supports their own surfers with $56,505.00 going to club members under their development program, the club has helped support many other clubs across Australia thought this prize money; it has been a life line for many clubs. Kirra are the envy of clubs all round Australia, having a reputation for running comps fair and smoothly. At one stage the club knocked back a $100,000.00 offer from a well known surf company, deciding to keep the Teams Challenge at grass roots level. (The news article is framed and hanging in the clubroom).

After a very long process in 1997 the club was given a Club Room in the Kirra Pavilion by the Gold Coast City Council. This opened the way for other clubs to lobby for clubrooms of their own. Kirra became incorporated and started applying for grants from the State Government for Junior Development Programs and led the way for a while; they even became consultants for other clubs and showed them how to do it.

In 2002 at a club meeting, some “Men in Suits” came to advise the Club of the Sand Bypass Project that would be starting. The Club was assured by these men that the Surfing Community would be consulted through the process and that it would make little, if any damage to their beach break. Well: the whole world knows what the outcome of that was! The club has continually been involved with the many lobby groups that are trying to get the famous break back to what it once was. The Australia Day Paddle out was a huge success for Kirra with over 3000 people coming out in support. The Club’s membership has struggled on through all this. It is unbelievable that Kirra Surfriders; a club that has put so much into surfing not only the Gold Coast but Australia wide is the only Boardriders Club that does not have a home break to hold club comps and to call home!

2007 Presentation night was special: Dale Richards and Mick Fanning were both in attendance. Mick who had joined the club at 12 was just about to start the last leg of the World Tour. Dale also joined the club at 12 had just became the first Indigenous surfer to make it into the Quicksilver Pro. Members were proud to know that the support given to these members in their early years was paying off. Everybody knew these boys were talented and that the Club may have contributed just a bit to their success. We all know Mick went on to win Two World Title’s, 2007/2009. Club members will never forget the party back at Kirra when Mick came home. Dale also did the club proud the next February, doing well in the Quiki Pro and also receiving a Deadly Award in Sydney for outstanding sporting achievement from the Indigenous Community. In 2010 another junior that the club has supported for a years, Jack Freestone became World Junior Champion and is in the running for the title again this year.

The Club has had many outstanding surfers over 50 years – names like the following:

Keith Paul, MP, PT, Rabbit, Graham McDonald, Kerry Gill, Ray Manicarus, Jay Glover, Sally Paxton, Colleen Deane, Serena Townend, Donna Cash, Craig Pitchers, Tony Ray, Sam Watts, Reg Riley, Jason Buttonshaw, Ross Clarke Jones, Dani Tukino, Darren Handley, Richard “Dog” Marsh, Stuart Darcy, Chris Jack, Jamie Kaysalalis, Neil Purchase Jnr, Jamie Young, Dean Lock, Trudie Todd, Jason Marsden, Sean Fanning, Kevin Sharman, Jason Frost, Luke Costello, Mick and Stew Norman, Jason Spencer, Izmal Trotter, Jason Stevens, Dave “Davo” Davidson, Asher Pacey, Mick Fanning, Damon Harvey, Mick Rabbige, Joel “Pitty” Pitchers, Brad “Lanky” Lansacter, Adam “Sparrow” Fletcher, Matt Lee, Corey “Coza” Ziems, Dale Richards, Jack Freestone, Justin Holland, Mitch Hayes, Nathan Bartlett, Damian Chaudoy, Clancy Dawson, Sam Clift, Jake Cumberland, Beaumont “Pea Beau” Blake and Britney Nicholl and many more have been team riders for the club.

Others that have been outstanding for the club are all the Kirra Life Members, Committee Members, Club Members of the Year recipients, Team Managers, Contest Directors, Gear Custodians, BBQ crew and the many Kirra families that have been involved with the club over the last half century, not to mention club members themselves.

When you look back at the history of Kirra Surfriders Club you can see who put the roots into “Grassroots surfing in Queensland”.

After 50 years not much has changed. The club still has dedicated members to run it, they are still developing champion surfers, they are still running comps and the grommies still can’t wait for the weekend club rounds.

Kirra’s Most Recent Achievements:

    • World Titles 2007/2009 – Mick Fanning
    • Junior World Title 2010 – Jack Freestone
    • Jim Beam Surf Tag Queensland Champions for the last 3 years
    • Ransom Junior Teams Winners of the event for the last 3 years
    • Kirra Teams Challenge – Runner up 2011, Winners 2008
    • Junior Kirra Teams Challenge – 3rd 2011
    • Straddie Assault Winning Team Pairs Event 2011 – Corey Ziems and Jake Cumberland

Congratulations Kirra Surfriders, well done by all and have a Happy Birthday Year!