It was 1964 and the world’s best surfers converged on Sydney’s manly beach for the first official world surfing Championships.
Magazine editor and surf film maker Bob Evans convinced one of Australia’s largest oil companies to sponsor the event. Ampol was a household name in Australia as they had a network of petrol stations akin to today’s Shell.
Sydney surfer Kenny Williams was asked to run the judging which was loosely based on style and technique.
Previously The Makaha Invitational in Hawaii was considered the unofficial world championships. Australia’s Midget Farrelly won the 1962 event and was well placed for the challenge of a home town win.
The local council agreed to bulldoze the beach and bank it to create maximum viewing space for the thousands of spectators that were expected.
The finals of the juniors and Women’s were held on Sunday along with the Men’s finals which included several seeded surfers.
The favourites for the senior men’s event were overseas surfers, especially Hawaiian Joey Cabell and American John Richards, while Americans Linda Benson and Marge Calhoun were the favourites to win the women’s event.
Among the Australians considered a good chance were Bobby Brown, Midget Farrelly and Mick Dooley.
An estimated 70000 people flocked to manly beach to watch the finals.
Midget Farrelly won the men’s event ahead of Mike Doyle and Joey Cabell, and the win was decisive – Farrelly scored 132 points, Doyle scored 126.4 and Cabell scored 126 points.
Australian surfer Phyllis O’Donnell won the women’s even ahead of Linda Benson and Heather Nicholson and 10 times Bells beach champion Gail Cooper from Lorne in Victoria
The junior men’s event was won by Bob Conneely ahead of Nat Young and Wayne Cowper.
The legacy of that day still remains. It’s ok not to wear a suit and tie down at the beach unlike many of the spectators at that event. Surfing has become apart of the Australian lifestyle. Surf brands such as Golden Breed reflect our true lay back lifestyle of time spent at the beach catching waves.