A brilliant atmosphere, and even better camaraderie, greeted boardriders at the weekend for the 2020 Robyn Ayton Memorial Surf Contest at Jewells Beach.
But, this event is more than a competition – it doubles as a highly-anticipated fundraiser every 12 months within the Newcastle community.
After assisting the likes of Robyn Ayton’s family, the Mark Hughes Foundation and Surfing the Spectrum over the years, organisers opted to support local legend Neil Goldsmith, who endured a life-changing motor scooter accident overseas, on 17 July, which left him a quadriplegic.
The avid surfer suffered spinal injuries, paralysis and required a facial reconstruction operation.
He remains in the spinal ward at Royal North Shore in Sydney and, due to a pressure wound that he recently had surgery on, will spend another six months in that facility.
To lessen the financial burden somewhat on Neil and his family, the surfing fraternity rallied on Saturday 5 December – and managed to amass almost $9000 for the cause.
An after-party and awards ceremony, including a surfboard auction, took place at the Orana Hotel, Blacksmiths, too.
“We were determined to help Neil any way we could after we heard about his terrible accident in Indonesia,” said Marina Weitz, who co-organised the event with Sam Ayton and Jarryd Duffey.
“The costs to bring him back to Australia were massive, let alone the medical bills.
“So, we just wanted to play our part.
“We were honoured Neil’s sister, Louise Webber, and a good group of his friends were there in attendance as well.
“The event was amazing and a total success with a huge turnout.
“About 70 surfers entered the comp; and many more people hung around the beach, as well as the Orana Hotel later that night.
“At this stage, we’ve raised roughly $8500, however there are still a few payments coming through.
“On top of that, we ran out of shirts, so we are putting in additional orders.”
For record, the winner of the 2020 Robyn Ayton Memorial Surf Contest was Tyler Williams, who mastered the conditions in a dazzling display of skill.