Source Documents
john witzig : byron bay, 1963. 

Thor Svenson : World Contest, 1970.
Thor Svenson : World Contest, 1970.
Surf International

Volume 3 Number 3, (September?) 1970.

Beginning with a quote from T.S. Elliot, Californian and president of the renown Windandsea Surf Club, Thor Svenson, covers the recent World Contest, initially scheduled for Bells Beach, Victoria, in May 1970.
The men's final was held at Johanna; the women's final was held the next day at Skenes Creek, on the south side of Kennett River.

The accompanying black and white and colour photographs are dramatic, however many are large double-page photographs, with a crease often bisecting the surfer.
Unfortunately there are no photographs of Midget Farrelly or Nat Young, who both made the final.

The conditions proved difficult for some competitors, particularly those from Hawaii, and full length wetsuits were in high demand: Martha Sunn was dressed in black from finger tips to tippy toe yet she emerged from the 40 degree water the colour of a sea urchin.
Visiting surfers, Brad McCall and Mike Purpus from California, had their designs manufactured by Rip Curl Surfboards, then on the verge of becoming major wetsuit producers.

The staff photographers were John Hogan, Darcy Digby, Colin Spencer and Bill Russo and by this time founding editor, John Wizig, had been replaced by Paul Koller 

Also see:
1970 Surfing World : World Contest.
Photos and incomplete contest notes, some by Midget Farrelly, from Surfing World, Volume 14 Number 2, 1970.
1970 Australian Womens' Weekly : James and Rolf Arness, Bells Beach.
Australian Women's Weekly 20 May 1970, pages 8 and 9. Article by Maureen Bang, photographs  by Les Gorrie,
Pages 14-15
World Contest
This is how the contest ended- not with a bang but a whimper.

Yes, Rolf won.
At least all the judges and spectators and competitors had him first.
The farmers at Johanna were so stoked they missed milking time.
But Rolf was the true only bang of the some two-week event.

Everything else seemed to sigh along at a languishing pace.
Mother Ocean, as Nat pointed out, was in control of the whole scene.
She would decide where and when the ting would be held.
And she was pouting.

The first weekend of the contest crowds stormed the cliffs at Bells Beach at 60 cents a head.
They stood in the rain under umbrellas.
Sometimes there was sun.

Grant Oliver
Pages 16-17

It was announced that all competitors would participate in the trick riding contest or suffer the severest penalty (poor Eduardo).

Dale Dobson and a few others co-operated but most contestants went off to Winkie Pop down the way to do their own thing.

That sort of started the whole business.
Even though the stage was set earlier when the American team went on strike because Corky had been suspended.
They hadn't marched in the opening parade.
Just Dale again, and Del Canon, Joyce and Jeri Poplar.

Somehow in those first few days the prelims were held.
The first day the| judging wasn't the best.
The Hawaiian, Australian, English and Peruvian judges showed real weakness.
Even the charts showed it.
Reno Abellira
Wayne Lynch surfed badly, he admitted it, so I understand.
Yet he got out of his heat.
Gavin Rudolph of South Africa surfed brilliantly; so did Aussie Mike Peterson, East-Coaster Larry Miniard and several others who fell before big names or national prejudices on the part of the judges.

Pages 18-19
The weather was freezing.
It looked more like a ski contest at Innsbruck.
Martha Sunn was dressed in black from finger tips to tippy toe yet she emerged from the 40 degree water the colour of a sea urchin.

Then there was the dope trouble.
They found some hash "about the size" of a little fingernail in one of the contestants rooms.
The big joke was that everyone knew positively that this surfer never touched it.

But the newspapers played that up.

They had to write about something I guess.
Nothing was happening in the water.

The Aussie press has to be read to be disbelieved.
It's incredible and speaks poorly for the Australian if that's the garbage he reads.
They make all our papers look like the  Christian Science Monitor.

David Treloar
Page 20

And then one of the judges socked the hotel manager ... it went on like that.
On and on.
Poor Eduardo kept wringing his hands and repeating: "What's important is that we are all here together and solving our problems."
And still no surf came.
A week had gone by.

Then a wild-haired Narrabeen local, Terry Fitzgerald, invited some of us on a fun surfari to Blanket Bay, perhaps 50 miles south of Lorne where we all stayed.
Blanket Bay had an entrance like the one to Honolua Bay on a wet day, only it went on for eight miles.
Terry didn't mention that.
There wasn't any surf.
That's why they call it "Blanket" probably.

But further on there was a remote break called Johanna which someone said was good the day before.
We struggled through the mud and hoped.
After all, someone said . . .
It was.

Even our intellectual Maori driver, Doug Hislop, was stoked.
And finally we found what we had come to Australia for.
Good surf, away from the crowds, happy vibes and everyone laughing together.
Johanna four houses; population 26.

Bobbie Jones socked it to them.
He got locked in, locked out and locked over.
He looked like that day at Sunset just before the Duke fiasco.

Terry was slipping and sliding in the wave's face and making the short board do what the Australian magazines said Nat and Wayne would do.
Terry has to be one of the hottest things in Australia's future.

A few of the South Africans were out.
They dressed, spoke and drove about like a team.
They displayed surprising technical proficiency.
They were mostly young.
Minus a few hang-ups, they will be the group to beat in a few years.

Johanna has three breaks; a beautiful left over at the left and then a top right-left in the centre and a beautiful both-directions after that.
We surfed the latter.
Sid Aspinall was along, too, and since he has some influence with the power-party we had hopes of a contest if the swell kept up.
That night back at the Lorne and Pacific hotels we waxed eloquent about the day's cornucopiae.
Everyone who had gone shopping, played table tennis or written post cards listened.
The dining room, presided over by Mrs Beaurepair, was alive with hope.
Tony Olson smiled once.
Sid ordered an extra bottle of wine for our table.
Then everyone went to bed and prayed.
There's not much else to do in Lorne.

Thursday morning was warm and friendly.
The swell had picked up and the officials were for once chatting with the contestants.
It was decided to drive to Johanna.
When I arrived Wayne Lynch was out at the left.
He was surfing almost for the first time - since I had seen him in 1967 - like he was supposed to.
Only he wasn't in the contest.

The officials had worked some kind of deal where they had two contests - one for winners and one for losers.
Now we had the finalists who had survived whatever had been thrown at them.
Randy Rarick set himself up for every tube in the contest area.
Corky got the biggest wave.
Page 21

Wayne Lynch
Nat got an interference on one wave, but he appealed and his appeal was upheld.
Little Mike Thompson from South Africa was all over the surf which
(was jumping from eight to 10 and occasionally to 12.)

Pages 22-23

Rolf Arness
Pages 24-25: Centre Fold

Reno Abellia
Pages 26-27
Page 28

Peter Drouyn  ?                                                                  Beach Fire
Page 29

(Little Mike Thompson from South Africa was all over the surf which) was jumping from eight to 10 and occasionally to 12.
It was finally happening.
Farmers were jumping from their tractors and coming down onto the beach.
One old codger murmured at the some 200 odd surfers: "I was born here and this would be the biggest crowd I've seen here in 70years."

Rodney Sumpter, the best promoter in the business, showed that he retained the old perfection, but for my money, he just wasn't getting it on.
Sort of like Sail Brittanica!
Terry was again all over the place but the big waves seemed to be unfriendly to his small board.
In crucial moments where speed was needed, I do not feel he maintained the necessary acceleration.
This is sort of my way of saying that Terry he is a great surfer but his short board done him wrong.

Dru Harrison just didn't get the waves.
It was a pity too, because the waves were his style - big, long walls like ones I have seen him climb and embrace, back at Windansea.

Six went into the finals: Reno, Rolf, Midget, Drouyn, Keone Downing and Nat.
Nat more or less fricked the whole contest, with a few outbursts of brilliance, but generally disappointing surfing.
Then in the semi-finals he shone.
He was the old Nat, back in the pocket, turning, accelerating.
I wiped my lens for a better look.
Witzig gave Nat a hug that seemed to say, "It's our day again".

The final was an hour, I guess, and "halfway through I heard George Downing murmur "It's all over".
His son, Keone, was demonstrating the proof that superb wave judgement must be inherited.
He hussled and got many of the choice ones.
But somehow his style seemed less exciting.
Obviously he's
young and will go far as he matures.

Drouyn, Australia's Open Champion, charged through and surfed in a showy and powerful manner.
His approach to a wave, although always controlled, was spontaneous and dramatic.
Midget on the other hand was calculating and studied.
He seemed to know every-thing he needed to do and he did it, well.
But he did not seem inspired.
Previous to the final, he had complained to Eduardo that he did not want to go back in the water after only a short rest.
Eduardo told everyone: "The waves are all good. You are all champions. Go out and surf."

Reno was the contrast and maybe that's why I felt he should have come in second.
His take-offs were lightning fast and the refinement of his movements were something to see.
His approach was almost ascetic and all the theories he has spoken in the past about surfing and which many doubted suddenly became credo.
Nat reminds me of a diamond.
It's as if he has been finely cut from rough stone - in the right light he shines.
But there was no light, at least not for Nat.
He seemed to crumble to pieces.
I felt he was lucky to get sixth.

Anyway it doesn't matter, for clearly it was all over from the start of Rolf's first wave.
He seemed obsessed as if a demon had entered him.
He out-paddled, out wave-judged and out-surfed everyone.
Going right he banked like a skier at the lip of the wave, drawing long graceful arches across the face, then dropping and climbing.

He caught the best wave, the biggest - which most everyone else passed by for the one behind.
After that one I was certain it was all over.
Every judge scored him first by many points.
You only had to look at the other contestants to know what was in their minds as they came out of the water.

Page 4

Page 46
Rip Curl

When Mike Purpus and Brad McCall were in Australia they realised that the boards they had brought with them were not entirely suitable for Australian conditions.
For new equipment they chose a manufacturer who could advise them as to the most suitable board for the varied conditions between Bells Beach and the hot soft waves of Queensland.
They chose Rip Curl because they knew then boards would be built to exact specifications.
The results were surfboards which suited their styles and the waves they were to ride.
Brian Singer and Doug Warbrick are Rip Curl- They did it for Mike and Brad, and they can do it for you too.

Rip Curl Surfboards  5 Boston Road Torquay

Note the sharp down rails in the rear section of Purpus' yellow surfboard.
While McCalll's green board appears to have a leg-rope twisted around the fin, this is highly improbable.

1970 World Contest Extras

Hawaiian surfers Anella Sunn, left, and her sister, Martha, are well prepared
 for the cold
as they head for the surf at Bell's Beach, Victoria.
The girls used the postponement of the titles yesterday as a chance to
practise on the small surf which was running on the beach.

Souvenir Programme
Australia, 1970
Captain Cook Bi-Centenary
Fifth World Surfboard Riding Championships 
Bells Beach, Victoria.

The Canberra Times 4 May 1970, page 14.

Surf International
(September?) 1970
Volume 3 Number 1.

Cover: Rolf Arness


Geoff Cater (2019) : Thor Svenson : World Contest, 1970.