THE stage is set for the Bells Beach 50 Year Storm Invitational to make its long-awaited debut when the swell hits its peak this winter.
And now the heartfelt and inspiring story behind the one-day big wave surfing contest has been captured in a locally produced documentary.
The 50 Year Storm short film tells of the event’s mission to break down barriers around mental health after being established in memory of local surfing legend Shaun Brooks, a former Junior and Victorian Open champion who took his life in 2012 after a long mental health battle.
[caption id="attachment_54910" align="alignleft" width="300"] Shaun Brooks in a scene from the documentary which tells the story of the Bells Beach 50 Year Storm event which was established in his memory.[/caption]
Jan Juc’s Carlo Lowdon produced the documentary and hopes it will encourage those in the surfing community to feel okay about speaking up and seeking help if they are struggling.
“Even though surfing is really good for your mental health, we’re not immune to mental health issues in our community,” Carlo said.
“A lot of people suffer on the Surf Coast and people that are surfers so we’re just trying to help everyone to come together and break down the stigma of mental health and being too scared to talk about it.”
The documentary is available to watch on YouTube and will also be screened at the Far South Film Festival in Merimbula during August, with hopes of a local fundraising screening at some point.
Carlo said he collaborated with other local creatives, including Juc Media, to produce the 10-minute film which pays tribute to his good mate Shaun Brooks and the positive impact he had on surfing as a prodigy and trail blazer.
“I wish he could have seen something like that – the movement he created and how much people loved him and loved his surfing,” Carlo said.
“It’s really sad that he doesn’t see how much of an affect he had on the community itself.”
Carlo said the 30 invitees had now been voted in for the upcoming contest and the 50-Year Storm board members were keen for it to go ahead before the waiting period ends on August 31 .
[caption id="attachment_54909" align="alignleft" width="240"] The event poster with artwork by Peter Webb and including a full list of invitees.[/caption]
“We plan to run and it should be able to go, we’ve just got to get the swell now,” he said.
“We are basically looking for the best day of surf in that window and we’re going to run.
“We’re all super excited, especially the board, we all want to tick it off our list and do it because previous years we’ve had swells that have been almost there but not quite.”
Business sponsorships support the event and proceeds are donated to headspace and One In Five.
“We think 50 Year Storm is such a good name because while it was the tongue in cheek name from Point Break the film, it’s like everyone is going to suffer from this at some stage in their life so be prepared for it,” Carlo said.
“If anyone is having mental health issues, we’d encourage them to contact headspace.”
The 50 Year Storm documentary can be viewed online at youtube.com/watch?v=6MRPdW8qpgY. Follow on Instagram @bellsbeach50yearstorm.
Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14) or Kids Helpline (1800 551 800).