Boardriders president takes out second RACV community award
CAHILL Bell-Warren credits the Torquay Boardriders Club for his time spent competing as a professional surfer.
Born into a “non-surfing family”, Cahill enjoyed the perks of growing up in a seaside home that neighboured Bells Beach.
He remembers trying his hand at football, cricket and a host of other competitive sports, but nothing came close to the euphoric thrill he felt when he was out in the water.
“I’m from a non-surfing family. My parents moved down before I was born from Melbourne,” said Cahill, 30.
“Boardriders was my connection to surfing and it opened up all the opportunities that those in the surfing community sort of had or took for granted. I got to a point where surfing was what I wanted to do.”
Cahill, who now works at Surfing Victoria as a high-performance coach, began entering surf competitions at age 11. The pinnacle of his career was representing Australia at the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach in 2014. His highest finish was number 91 in the world.
While his days riding swell against the elite was sadly cut short, Cahill said he believed it was a sign to explore other pathways. It was here that he was offered a full-time position with Surfing Victoria. That same year he became president of the Torquay Boardriders Club.
He is now the longest serving frontman the club has had in its 41-year history.
“I achieved a lot of things and I feel like I achieved beyond my ability. I got to the point where I was really happy with what I’d done, and it felt like it was time to do something else,” he said.
“My junior opportunities, development, friends, peers and role models all came from the club – that’s why I was able to achieve what I did, and I think that’s why I do all the giving back.”
If he isn’t at work, Cahill is organising events, developing programs and arranging committee meetings for Boardriders. If he isn’t volunteering his time to the club, he’s thinking, talking or actively participating in surfing.
He admits the sport is ingrained in every aspect of his life, and while in some ways it has altered his love for the ocean, he finds himself experiencing these evocative, fleeting moments during which he’s reminded of where his love for it all started.
“When we have a junior event, or I go down the beach and I see a bunch of kids with the Torquay Boardriders Club logo on having a really good time in and out of the water, then I realise it’s all worth it because they’re a part of something so much bigger than themselves,” he said.
“It’s cool to know I was once them, and I hope that we can set a path that they get a lot out of it but can also give their own time back, too.”
Cahill said the most difficult challenge he faced as president was managing the astronomical growth of the club given its limited resources and funding.
“We’re not supported like football or cricket clubs. We’ve got no facilities; we receive little to no funding. We’re in a surfing town but the biggest challenge is maintaining our growth and high-quality service of events for our members,” he said.
“No one complains when the Torquay Tigers run out on the ground at 2.15pm on a Saturday, but if a 41-year-old Boardriders Club tries to have an event at Jan Juc, people complain.
“We’re really careful to try to continue running high-quality events while acknowledging that there’s recreational surfers in the community who aren’t surfers of ours.”
Having recently won RACV Torquay’s community recognition award, Cahill said it served as an invaluable opportunity to reflect on his commitment to Boardriders.
Nominated by friend and committee member Ross Dart, Ross said Cahill was incredibly deserving of praise.
“His passion and loyalty to the club is surpassed by none. Countless hours and years supporting a club he loves,” said Ross.
Cahill said while he appreciated the acknowledgement, the prospect of receiving it wasn’t the reason for his devotion.
“The club provided me with so many opportunities to have an amazing life in surfing and career – that’s why I’ve stuck with it for so long. As long as the committee sees I’m doing a good job, I’ll keep going for the benefit of the current members but also the club’s future as well,” he said.
“The reason the club’s huge now is not because of me – it’s because of the work that the previous presidents and committees have done. I’m sitting here with the title, but there’s so many more people that do more work than me.
“It’s 40 years of growth… 40 years of great people doing great things.”
To learn more about Boardriders, head to torquayboardriders.org.au or facebook.com/torquayboardriders.