Local Surf Legend Takes Safety Online
Byron Bay surf hero Max Pendergast has gone online to share advice about how to stay safe at the beach.
The Surf Safe Byron page is “dedicated to surf safety in the Byron Shire with hints and tips from some of the elders of surfing, a bit of fun here and there but no negative stuff!”
It’s aimed “particularly at beginners, tourists and kids” and features illustrations drawn by Pendergast, who also creates surf safety colouring books with his wife.
Pendergast has been surfing for 63 years – both recreationally and competitively – and he and his wife Yvonne were the founders of the Byron Bay Malibu Club (BBMC), a boardriders club focused on the longboard community.
As part of their work for the BBMC, Pendergast and his wife have facilitated The Future Legends surf contest for kids under 12 years old, which runs in conjunction with the Byron Bay Malibu Classic.
Pendergast says it is important to learn about surf safety and ocean etiquette from an early age so that the information stays with them in later life.
“I am passionate about teaching them young about water/ocean safety because they listen and remember,” he says in an interview with the local Northern Star newspaper.
“Once they reach their teens, they figure they know everything.”
But the page could also act as a guide for the many tourists that travel through the Byron Shire.
Like Bondi Beach, Byron Bay has become famous for its waves, attracting over 1.5 million visitors every year. While locals are aware of the risks around popular beaches like The Pass, travellers are less familiar with the area and have a greater chance of being injured as a result.
Surfing resources like Pendergast’s new Facebook page, however, make it easier for people to become more aware of both general and specific risks in the area.
In fact, it could be a good idea for local councils around Australia to develop similar pages and promotions around surf safety. And although Bondi Beach doesn’t have a surf safety Facebook page quite like this one (yet?), resources like the Bondi Beach Surf Club’s Surf Safety webpage and the Beachsafe website are already valuable resources for visitors and locals alike.