COOLUM Beach is set to play host to the best body surfers in the world, and from across Australia as the Coolum Wedge three-day body surfing festival is held from March 24 -27 at Coolum Main Beach.
From the humblest of beginnings that germinated in 2021 sprang The Coolum Wedge Body Surfing Festival and it has captured the imaginations and the support of the local community and body surfers all around Australia.
The event has grown substantially in just three years and this year the IBSA (International Body Surfing Association) has invited The Coolum Wedge to be the World’s first qualifying tournament for the official Bodysurfing World Tour Championship.
There will be five world regions that will each hold their own qualifying tournaments: South America, USA, Hawaii, Europe, and Australia. The top eight Men’s Open and top four Women’s Open point scorers in each region will have the option to compete in the inaugural Bodysurfing World Tour Championships.
Coolum Wedge President Darren Verrenkamp said it was all made possible by the support of the local community and this year with the financial support from the Community Bank at Tewantin.
“The only option we had to be able to put this international event on was to talk with the Community Bank – we had to have their support and within five days we had the extra money that we needed.”
Having the money from the Community Bank allowed the organising group to focus on putting on a great event that will promote the region.
Senior Manager of Community Banks Marcoola, Cooroy and Tewantin-Noosa Branches Melanie Jackson said that the bank was proud to once again be a major sponsor.
“We have worked with the team for a few years and are delighted to see the event go from strength to strength.
“When you bank with your local Community Bank, up to 80 per cent of profits go back into your community – It’s a win-win situation.”
Another local to come on board with sponsorship is Ninderry MP Dan Purdie who is providing the end-of-day BBQ for the international event.
“Coolum Wedge is a local success story.
“The annual event, now in its third year, started during COVID and not only managed to survive the challenges of the pandemic, but thrive, and is now part of an international bodysurfing championship and I am proud to be able to support a grassroots event that showcases the natural beauty of Coolum and its surrounds to an international audience.”
The Wedge is not merely about the sport’s best athletes qualifying for the World Titles though, the over-riding goal of The Wedge was always to act as the annual gathering for all the bodysurfing ‘tribes’ around Australia and indeed the world – a gathering of the fraternity, a sharing of stories and a weekend filled as much with friends as with friendly competition.
Coolum ‘79’er’ and Wedge President Darren explains that the love of body surfing is something everyone has experienced if they have been to the beach for a ‘swim’.
“Everyone has experienced the joy of bodysurfing in their life – it’s usually the first thing people do in the surf and this festival hopefully acts as a springboard for people to get back into that stoke and join other like-minded people.
“One of the main aims of the Wedge is to promote age and gender diversity as the primary message and last year we had 107 competitors across all age and gender divisions ranging in age from 10 to 82.
And as for conditions, Coolum has them covered with what the 79’ers collectively call “perfect” – there must be a reason they all meet every day, rain, hail or shine!
“Coolum Beach is fortunate in that it’s sheltered in the corner of a headland, so it can handle any of the funky winds that are thrown at it,” Darren explained.
The Coolum Wedge, Body Surfing Festival will be held from March 24 – 27 and for more information and to register please visit www.coolumwedge.com.au