Above board

February 3, 2017


It’s summer time and, quite frankly, life is a beach. Where else would an Aussie want to be but the sand and surf—particularly if you’re anywhere near the NSW central coast during the next few weeks?

Surfest, Australia’s largest surfing festival, will be held in Newcastle from 11–18 February. The surfing extravaganza culminates in two World Tour Six-Star events—the men’s Maitland and Port Stephens Toyota Pro and the crowdfunded Women’s Pro at Merewether beach’s stunning national surfing reserve.

Since the event was first staged in 1985, Surfest has attracted top names from the world of waves. World champion Mick Fanning has taken the Surfest crown three times, as has Tom Carroll, while women champions include Sally Fitzgibbons and Pam Burridge.

Newcastle is one of the first stops on the World Surf League’s Australasian leg of the international men’s and women’s professional surfing tour calendar. It will attract more than 300 professional surfers from home and abroad, including the US, Hawaii, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Tahiti, New Zealand, France and western Europe.

But it’s not just all about the pro-surfers. Organisers place a strong emphasis on community and grassroots competition, including a team challenge, the Wandiyali ATSI Indigenous Classic 2017 (the nation’s biggest purse for Indigenous surfers), and a high school team challenge.  

It’s a spectacular spectator sport, too, watching as the southerly swells, fanned 
by north-west winds, barrel through from the third reef, while surfers’ abilities are tested to the max by those legendary right-handers that peel down the rock and sand-bottom off Merewether beach.

Surfing is part of Aussie culture; it’s probably true that a good percentage of Australians are more likely to surf than attend church regularly. That’s something Christian Surfers Australia (CSA) understand—indeed, the exhilaration of riding the wave, surrounded by the immense power of the ocean, is like a spiritual experience for many surfers.

The organisation has offered volunteer chaplaincy support since the 1980s to those for whom ‘surfing is my religion’, as the slogan goes. But, instead of trying to get surfers to church, Christian Surfers aims to get the church to surfers, with the Surfers Bible a key way of doing that.

Produced in partnership with the Bible Society, the Surfers Bible combines a modern translation of the Bible with personal stories from well-known surfers, who are also Christians, sharing how they make sense of life beyond their surfing.
More than 75,000 copies of the first edition were distributed, with the second edition including an option with a waterproof cover (sensible) as well as Spanish, French, Japanese and Portuguese translations.

All of us—not only surfers—face ‘turbulent seas’. The perfect wave one day can turn into the perfect storm the next. 

That’s why a little book (which sometimes comes in a waterproof cover) can be an encouragement—even a lifesaver—with words from God, such as these from Isaiah chapter 43, verse 2: ‘When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm.’ 


Tags: Salvation Army Australia

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