Surfing’s entry into the Olympic Games coupled with the “amazing innovation” of Kelly Slater’s Surf Ranch herald a new era for the surf economy, Surfing NSW’s Chairman John O’Neill told an audience of business leaders.
Speaking at the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro Business Leaders Breakfast attended by the two most successful surfers of all time, Kelly Slater (11-times World Champion) and Australia’s own Mark Richards (four-times World Champion), Mr O’Neill said great opportunity for those involved in the sport lay way beyond a pathway to the podium.
“As surfers ourselves - and as organisers of the sport of surfing in Sydney and NSW - we are hugely excited about the opportunities ahead,” Mr O’Neill told an audience of 200 people attending a breakfast co-hosted by Surfing NSW and the NSW Business Chamber at the event’s beachside VIP marquee.
“We see an opportunity to grow the surf economy so that people who love the surf lifestyle and want to associate with it can secure jobs and earn money while pursuing their passion … and not just in our cities.”
There are an estimated 1 million recreational surfers in NSW and the state’s surf schools provide some 300,000 learn-to-surf lessons each year.
Mr O’Neill said this week’s event in Manly employed more than 100 people in a vast array of roles including webcasting, judging, physiotherapy, security, marketing, photography, surfboard shaping, videography, drone operations, sponsorship, government, media and community relations, and a myriad other event operation roles.
Surfing will be contested for the first time in the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games and has been nominated for inclusion again in France in 2024.
Mr Richard Spencer, Chief Customer Experience Officer, NSW Business Chamber said events such as the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro encourage intersection between community and business.
“We all know the contribution sport makes to our society - not only in financial terms, but in terms of creating a healthier community,” said Mr Spencer.
“A strong local community is a reflection of a thriving business community, especially in the hospitality sector.
“We’ve been involved in a number of pursuits over the years that have enriched the business community, and the communities in which they are located.
“That’s why we didn’t hesitate to support the Surfpro event in Manly. Not only is it an event of international significance, attracting the world’s best surfers, but it’s the chance to showcase the very best of Sydney, and in particular the Northern Beaches.
“We also know our members and their clients like networking in different environments, at different times of the day, and with different people – surfing is a passion people in all types of business share.”