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Mike Bennett
Mike Bennett (formerly the "Canadian Kook", South Bondi Board Riders Club, circa 1960) of Scottsdale, Arizona,emailed the following (edited) notes and images in June 2011.
Many thanks to Mike.

Bondi, 1960.

"I was a Bondi boy, imported from Canada in 1960.
Joined the South Bondi Boardriders Club, surfed with some of the 'legends' Bluey Mays, John 'Wheels' Williams (of Manly),
Johnny O'Donovan, old Vic Hogan, Noel Ward, Billy Bushel,  of course the young gremmies, Kevin Brennen etc.
Other members of SBBC included Jim Robinson, Mick McKelvey, Andy 'Cucuracha' Cochrane, Dennis Colette, Johnny Nobel, and Rick DeRuiter."

Nielson Park

"I have a picture of a wave at taken at Nielson Park in Sydney Harbour probably around '61-62.
I took the pic from the original hanging in my house.
An "old" guy used to take pictures at Neilson  Park in black and white.
He would take your name, note the color of your costume, hand paint the picture, and later meet with you to sell you the picture.  Haven't seen many pictures from that era.
From left to right, the surfers are "The Greek" (name unknown), Billy Bushell and myself.
The history of this spot is pretty unique.
The surf has to be huge of the heads, at least 20 ft plus.
The swell travels down the harbor, hits across on the north shore (see picture).
Deflects from there across the bay to N. Pk.
A wave is created about 6-7ft with a right takeoff.
After takeoff, go left, as in picture then turn back right.
The final part of the wave then goes into the shark net area, the net is usually broken by then and a upper cable is left.
You could either pull off, dive under, or jump over the cable depending on the height of the end of the wave.
Of course all this was done without leashes in what we considered at that time shark infested waters.
Pretty spooky to say the least."

"The Greek" (name unknown),  Billy Bushell 
and Mike Bennett. 
Nielson Park, Sydney Harbour, 1961-1962.

In the Gregory's Sydney Street Directory 
the beach is Shark Beach, in Shark Bay.
(70th edition, map 347-348)

"An other event Bondi boys were involved in was being on the television game show the 'Dating Game.'

Bluey Mayes girlfriend, Brenda Backhouse was probably, if not the first woman surfer in the Eastern suburbs.

Kerry Yates was the local "Gidget" and ended up with the Sydney Daily Telegraph writing weekly surfing articles.
One of her articles about Bob McTavish stowing away to Hawaii resulted in him getting caught and deported back to Aussie."

Bluey Mayes, Andy 'Cucuracha' Cochrane.
See Source Documents
1958 Australian Womens' Weekly :Bondi Boardriders.
Extract from The Australian Women's Weekly, Wednesday 3 December 1958, page 3.

Brenda Backhouse.
In 1917, the most consistently noted female surfboard rider at Bondi Beach was Kathelene Musgrave.
See Source Documents
1917-1918 The Surf.

Kerry Yates.
Also wrote a series of articles in the early 1960s for the Australian Womens' Weekly.
See Source Documents
1960 Australian Womens' Weekly : Surfing.
Extracts from 1961, 1963, 1964 and 1966.

"Yates, Kerry
An Australian journalist whose meeting with Paul benefited her career.
Glenn A Baker relates the event in his book The Beatles Down Under.

"Kerry was seventeen years old and working for Women's Weekly when the Beatles arrived in Sydney in June 1964. She was among the large group of reporters and photographers waiting in a corridor in the Sheraton hotel, hoping to get a story on Paul as he was celebrating his 22nd birthday.

Paul decided to have a few words with the press, but as soon as he saw Kerry he went straight to her and invited her to his room for an interview.

Kerry commented, 'I had long blonde hair and a pink sweater and I must have stood out from all the grey and brown suits because Paul made a beeline right for me and invited me up to his room. He let my photographer take shots of him surrounded by his presents and the next week we ran one of them on the front cover with my "exclusive" story inside. For years I've been asked what I had to do to get that scoop, which really did help my career. I know that everyone wants to know but I'm not saying if I did it or if I didn't.' "

- Bill Harry: The Paul McCartney Encyclopedia, July 2011.


"First surfing wet suits in the Bondi area were made by a guy, a Yank, I think, at North Bondi.
He was making wet suits for divers.
One of the guys asked him if he could make a vest for surfers.
He made the first vests out of left over material from his diving suits.
The first vests were literally made from these left over pieces.
A few guys bought them, some die-hard surfers wouldn't, saying the vests were for whimps.
Of course you now the rest of the story.
When we saw the light, everyone bought them.
He soon made them in full pieces and then the shorts to match.
Finally we got out of our wool pullovers into something warm."

Surf Racks.

"The first racks in the Eastern Suburbs were probably made by a local Bondi surfer.
First name Noel, last name, I think is Ward.
They worked pretty good except at first the "clamp clips" kept breaking.
The clips were the final tightening down of the rack itself.
The material was faulty.
He finally fixed this problem and the racks turned out really good."

South Coast, 1960.

"Was in the first group with Bluey to surf Green Island, down south.
Also, the Bondi boys were among the first visitors to the far south coast and even down to Bells.
Have you contacted Ivan Johnson, in Ulladulla who wrote a book on the Mollymook SLSC?
Check it out.
The first groups that went to Ulladulla were around 1960, refer to Ivan 's book , bottom of page 32.
Ivan just received the "OAM" for his work on the history of SLSC's."

"At the start of the season a visit to the area by members of the South Bondi Boardriders Club [many of whom were members of the Bondi SLSC], was to have ramifications to the local area.
Some members of the Mollymook SLSC had at the end of 1960, locally pioneered surf board riding, using malibus.
They had been able to combine both surfing and surf lifesaving without any problems.
Bob Evans, Ian Hunter, Bob Davidson, Peter Williams and Ivan Johnson were the first, and many of the younger club members over the next few seasons followed on.
The visit of the surfers' from other areas like Bondi on 'surfaris' seeking out new, unspoiled waves, introduced the youth to a new culture that did not include surf lifesaving in the equation.
Basically it meant a competition in coastal areas for the pool of local youth which has continued on ever since."

- Johnson: Mollymook SLCS (2010) page 32.

Hawaii and California, 1965.

"I left for the Hawaiian islands in '65 and surfed with all the greats.
Continued on to California witha group of Bondi boys, Jim Robison, Mike McKelvey and Paul Lechner.
We surfed all the California coast including, Steamer Lane, Malibu, Rincon, Swami's, Wind 'N Sea, Northern Baja California
From there down the coast of "mainland" Mexico as far as just past Acapulco.
From there back to Texas and Florida.
This all done in a 1955 Chevy.
Lots of pictures of the trip."

Europe, 1966.

"In early 1966 John, Paul Lechner (Queensland), Tony Afner (California) and myself, left California for Europe.
We surfed Gurnsey, an Island in the English Channel.
Bought a car and drove/surfed the coast of France from Biarritz, south through Spain and Portugal.
Afterwards returning to California and then back to Hawaii."

Mike Bennett at
"Guthery (spelling) near Biaritz, France,
taken about 1966. 
The picture was taken with a Pentax 
with 200 mm lens. 
Biggest I could afford at the time. 
Only 4 of us in the water that day. 
Perfect surf 8-10 ft plus surf."

Surf Skis in Hawaii, 1979.

"Read some articles in your 'surf history' about surf skis.
Have a couple of pictures of a great wave at Sunset Beach, Hawaii, about 25 years ago, see below.
Hayden Kenny pretty much introduced surf skis to Hawaii around 1979 when Grant Kenney won his first race.
It was the first year his son came to Hawaii to race 'long skis' from Molokai to Oahu.
They were purchased by some locals including John 'Wheels' Williams, Rick DeRuiter & myself.
'Wheels'  Williams was a resident at that time, he had permanently moved to Hawaii about 1967.
He sold us two of the 'short' ski's, and at least one of the traditional longer racing versions.
The shorter one a little less than 8 ft and the longer about 8 ft 8", and constructed in foam and fiberglass.

The skis have fin boxes and were 'adjustable.'
Up front for slower Waikiki type waves.
Further back for north shore/steeper waves.
Both short skis had belt fittings, Wheels took them  off his ski.
I don't think the longer ski had them."

Above, left and right,
(1) Sunset on ski - take off.

(2) Sunset on ski - inside section.

"Sunset, not too big a wave but the inside section 
is pretty damn busy."

(3) "Old Man's which is located in front of the Outrigger Canoe Club at Diamond Head, Hawaii. 
Nice spot, can get out on a big day and paddle down to Castles which takes 8-10 ft plus."

Surf ski images circa 1980 (?).


"living the good life on the north shore, around 1973. 
(Date by Ricky de Ruiter)
L to R. - Mike Bennett, John 'Wheels' Williams, Ricky de Ruiter."

"Rick deRuiter, a Bondi boy, was a Honolulu HI police officer
for about 17 years. 
Had all his fellow cops calling each other 'mate'. 
He retired from the P. D. and now lives in Scotts Head NSW."


"Never thought I would end up in Scottsdale, Arizona, but here I am.
Spent about 7 years in Australia, about 20 years in Hawaii, then Northern California, and now in Arizona.
Kind of had to follow my job towards the end.
I'm 69 years old.
Still get back to Hawaii, 1-2 times a year and still ride my ski with Wheels, see images below.
Last trip met up with our old friend Phil 'Gar' Becker of Becker Surfboards in Los Angeles.
We all used to ride the north shore together he retired, and now he built a beautiful house at Pupukea where we talk about the old days.
Lots of memories of meeting and talking to our heroes and hearing their stories, Jose Angel, Eddie Aikau, the Cole brothers, Buzzie Trent, Ricky Gregg, Ben Aipa......

Still staying in touch with Barry "Magoo" McGuiggen (spelling?) and Ron Adler (Adler swimwear).
Also Andy Cochrane from Bondi who still lives in Hawaii."

 John 'Wheels' Williams and Mike Bennett, 
Hayden wave skis, 
Waikiki, 2006.

John 'Wheels' Williams and Mike Bennett, 
Hayden wave skis, 
Chun's Reef, 2010.

"Both short skis had  belt/fittings, 
Wheels took them  off his ski." 

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Geoff Cater (2011-2014) : Mike Bennett.