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Go VIP: Byron Bay Surf Fest Kicks Off!

Celebrating all things surf and the cultures that surround it, last Thursday saw an outpour of legends from all facets of the surf industry, as locals and visitors gathered at the Byron Bay Surf Festival’s VIP Party at Stone & Wood Brewery to kick off the weekend of fun.

With a one-time beer, Tallows Gold, specially brewed for the festival with the help of local surfer and icon, Dave Rastovich, the surf-inspired bevvy delighted palates with a backyard mix of hand-picked finger limes, local sea salt, and kombu seaweed. Surfers, board shapers, artists, musicians, and industry legends such as surfer/shaper Joel Fitzgerald, world champ Tom Carroll, surfer/filmmaker Jack McCoy, the Goodwin family from the acclaimed new documentary film ‘Given,’ musician Bobby Alu, Isabella Pennefather & Lizzy Abegg from Spell & the gypsy collective all came together in one room to share their excitement for the 3 day festival that kicked off that very same day.

“I’m here to share my stoke,” exclaimed legendary Hawaiian filmmaker, Jack McCoy. “The festival is kind of like an old hippie love-in, like in the 70’s. It’s just everyone sharing the love.”

Joel Fitzgerald also expressed his appreciation for how unique the event is to Australia, saying, “In the States, the whole surf industry has an expo that all the companies go to and do their buying, PR, and marketing. So, this is kind of our Australian surf expo. It’s quite nice to be involved in a festival that presents surfing in a very truthful way. There’s a lot of integrity, humility, and creativity.”

A look around the room saw guests deep in spirited conversation with one another, as noted by surfer and writer/photographer Chrystal Dawn who excitedly learned that the fellows behind Wood Surf Co. seek to make a completely biodegradable surfboard. This buzzing sense of excitement was palpably felt throughout the room as like-minded folks gathered to celebrate and perpetuate the ignited flame of change in the surf industry, such that the future will reflect the eco and community-minded values of the surfers who comprise its fabric. Ultimately, “I think everyone has a real love for the sea, a real love for getting wet,” expertly notes Chrystal, laughing buoyantly.

Stay tuned for more of the weekend's action!