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Surfing A Wave of Memories

By David Gordon

SURFBOARD shaper Barry Regan remembers the days when a surfer could have the waves all to himself in Byron Bay.
That was before the town was “discovered” and the Bay’s now thriving surf culture developed.
“You can understand why people moved here,” he said.

“Back then it was really slow, like a country town. Forty years ago you might go out to The Pass and be the only one surfing out there.”

The 82-year-old Ballina surfer was on hand to share memories, and swap tips, with a new generation of surfers at the inaugural Byron Bay Surfing Festival.

Amid festivities that included surfing, film screenings and surf music, Mr Regan had his hand-crafted timber boards on display as part of a “surf swap” organised for surfers to swap or sell their boards and for shapers, including Bob McTavish, Simon Johns and Tom Wegner, to display their skills.

“I’m a retired oyster farmer, but I’ve been making surfboards since I was 16,” Mr Regan said.

His Generation Gap Surfboards are created from a mixture of marine ply, cedar and paloma timber, taking about 40-50 hours to make, he said.

“Some of them don’t ever make it into the water; they keep them as art pieces,” he said.

However Mr Regan’s own board, similar to the four -metre- “beach-boy board” he had on display, regularly gets a paddle out.

“I still surf,” he said.

“Surfing for me is not about the competitions; it’s all about getting out and enjoying yourself. It really doesn’t matter what you ride because you’re out on the water and that’s what matters.”

Celebrating that shared love for surfing was at the heart of the Byron Bay Surf Festival, said one of the organisers, Mike Jahn.

“This is not a competition – it’s all about fun,” he said.

“There’s so much history here in Byron Bay. Guys like Bob McTavish used to be seen as surf bums who weren’t welcome in town, but they have created a whole culture around surfing.”

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