Phillip Island Boardriders Club 60th anniversary – Life Member award and top 10 most influential surfers

Published on 02/03/2023

What it means to be part of the Boardriders Club

What it means to be part of a community club with 60 years of rich history was on display for all to see at the Cutback Festival last Saturday, when the Club celebrated with a mini music festival after a month-long festival of surfing program.

Surf culture is a big part of the Island, and this was a huge focus of the event with the announcement of the Club’s most influential and important surfers.

The Phillip Island Boardriders Club is a huge part of the local community, during the speeches, members spoke of how spoilt they were being surrounded by the ocean with world class breaks and how surfing binds families, creates strong bonds and communities.

Surfing is a part of Island life, and active club participation is valued as it builds stronger, healthier and happier communities. We are one the strongest surfing regions in Victoria and numerous quality surfers have come from the area, many of which were honoured during the announcement of the top ten most influential surfers.

The criteria for the Club’s most influential surfers over the past 60 years – The surfer who through their surfing, and their wider contribution, has had the most profound influence or impact on the sport of surfing.

The committee had much difficulty with this seemingly easy task, there were 63 people nominated for the prestigious award by 35 club members, life members, past committee and captains, and whittling it down to just ten seemed wrong, so the committee announced the top ten, which included 23 surfers due to a few ties in votes.
The committee has a healthy respect for the past, present and future of the club, and were extremely pleased with the response from everyone for nominating their top ten, it’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate some amazing surfers and inspirational people.

Jake Eisen committee member and presenter of the top 10 awards said “After pouring over the list and giving it much thought, the committee thought it was disrespectful to try and split this group of legends.”

“You could flip the lower half of this list upside down and no one would argue, these surfers have all in their own way inspired and influenced generations of surfers and given their valuable time to the club and the sport, said Jake.”

Presenting the awards, Jake spoke of how many of the nominees inspired him as a kid, pushed him into waves, and as he got older, took him away on surf trips, locally and internationally. The Phillip Island Boardriders Club is a big family, it brings people together, and provides surfers with opportunities and social connections that last a lifetime.
During the presentations all nominees were asked, what does the club mean to you?

Terry Klemm one of the Club’s original founding members summed up the growth in surfing in a few words “It’s a real shame so many people took up surfing, we were having a ball in the 60’s and 70’s you would have to look for people to surf with, but that’s all changed now, you can’t get away from them.”

“The way this club has grown from half a dozen guys saying we should start a club, to what it is now is huge, it’s as big as all…..”said Terry.

Life Member Bob Mathews said, “To see what’s happening here with kids, families and original club members coming together to celebrate tonight is a lot deeper than you think.”

“Congratulations to the committee and volunteers for pulling this off, it is something special,” said Bob.

Top 10 most influential surfers

  1. Glyndyn Ringrose
  2. Nikki van Dijk
  3. Sandy Ryan
  4. Carl Wright, Mal Gregson
  5. Bob Mathews, Dave Fincher
  6. Steve Smart, Amber Goldsbury
  7. John Mason, Vaughan Platt
  8. Simon McShane, James Noble, Joe van Dijk, Terry Klemm,
  9. Neil Luke, Anthony Marlborough, Paul Hart, Mark Fairthorne
  10. Steve Demos, Harry De Roth, Gary Dorrington, Geoff Owens

Bill Yusko Life Member Award

Club President Hannah Eisen when presenting the award said that this award is not handed out lightly and that she was humbled to award life membership to Bill Yusko a very deserving person who has been influential in her life, pushing her onto waves as a grom and encouraging her on and off the board, most recently in G-land Indonesia.

Bill has been a member of the club every year since the 1970s and has been a consistent competitor. Hannah said that she didn’t think that Bill had ever missed a year of competition throughout his 40 years with the club.
Bill has been the Grand Master aggregate champion in 2001-2002, a Legend Champion in 2004-05 and 2017-2018. he has represented on many committees, helping steer the club throughout the 1980- 1990s into 2000s. He was Vice President in 2013-2014, then was the first to put up his hand when the club was at a low point and in 2014 when he took over as President for three years.

Bill is one of those people that you want around, he is always ready to hand out help or offer advice, he is a genuine and committed club person, in fact, he was at the club all weekend helping setup for the festival.
“Congratulations Bill, and thank you for all the years of service to the Phillip Island Boardriders Club and surfing community.”

When Bill was asked what were your first memories of the Phillip Island Boardriders Club? Bill replied “As you know I wasn’t born here, I came in 1976 from America, they needed teachers at the time, and I applied and got accepted.”
“Maybe two weeks into the start of my career a friend and I camped at Cape Woolamai and when we woke I was astounded with the waves, I’ve been here ever since. I love it! I love the Club! Now every time I wake and look at the ocean or bay, I just think wow how lucky are we,” said Bill.
Bill joins a prestigious group of club legends including, Jim Howard (decd.), John Quinn, Malcolm Gregson, Neil Oke, Bruce Oke, John Mason, Chris Rodgers, David Fincher (decd.) Craig Clarke, Mark Fairthorne, Paul Cochrane, Geoffrey Owens, Robert Matthews and Pal Cinninas.
The Club is a hub of community life on the Island and connects families and communities through shared experiences and the love of surfing, that’s why the committee wanted this celebration to be a family-friendly event.
Quote Geoff Rusell Vice President “I was honoured to lead the month-long celebration of surfing and acknowledge the legends that have made the club what it is today, their stories, heartfelt words and appreciation was very moving and felt by all in attendance.”
“The heart and soul of any club is its people, and it’s why we spent a great deal of time, energy and resources acknowledging the past and helping the next generation to get involved.”
“Not only are our junior members integral for our pipeline to future active membership, providing programs for their development will ensure we are competitive in the future and enable them to develop their surfing and learn valuable skills to achieve their potential.”
“Volunteers are the lifeblood of the club, and we are no exception. We have dedicated committee members, life members, family and a crew of helpers who happily give up their valuable time to do a host of jobs to ensure our club continues thrive, and I want to thank the band of volunteers that turned up throughout February to make the Festival of Surfing and the 60th celebrations a success.”

Hannah Eisen Club President said “The Festival of Surfing and Cutback Festival, 60 Year Celebration was more than I ever imagined! Thanks to the vision of Vice President, Geoff Russell for dreaming up such an epic event to celebrate this milestone.”

“The community support has been phenomenal, and I am humbled to be President of such an amazing club. The turnout on Saturday night was a testimonial to the legacy and future of the club. We had young and old all having a great time, from Supergroms to the founding members, everyone came together and celebrate the history of the PIBC.”

“Volunteers are a critical part of hosting events like this and I am so grateful to everyone who helped to deliver 14 events during February.”

Special shout out to our awesome Committee, Emily Scott for coordinating the graphics, Natalie Van Der Heyden for running the bar, Steve Parker for the art and mural, Keith from Carve media for the video production, Benita Russell for advising us on waste management, all the volunteers that helped setup, work the bar, sell tickets, Jayne Menesdorffer who cooked paella, the Surf Church crew for the BBQ food, as well as my brother, Jake Eisen for being MC, it really has been a collective effort.”

“My heartfelt thanks to all our awesome community partners and sponsors the Bass Coast Shire Council, Surfing Victoria, Surfers Rescue Program, Bass Coast Disabled Surfers Association, Surfing Australia’s Indigenous High-Performance Program, Bang Bang Bar and Food, Young Henrys, Island Surfboards, Rip Curl, Phillip Island National Surfing Reserve, Atoll Travel. Archi Sign, Phillip Island Apartments, The Surf Church, Girls on Board, Woolamai Pizza, Full Circle, Ivy Plant Studio.

“Finally thanks to the amazing and talented music artists who made the 60th celebrations a real success, despite the patchy rain, Three Humps, Ozone Blues, Felipe Baldomir, Steve Cousins, Birds of a Feather, Nira Quinn and Cassandra Craddock,” said Hannah.

Photo Credits – Lisa Burge and Benita Russell

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