Shaun Brooks surfing in the 1980s. Photo: STEVE TREANCE

Voting opens for 50-Year Storm Invitational

April 16, 2020 BY

WITH the Rip Curl Pro postponed this year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the committee behind the 50-Year Storm Invitational 2020 say there is no better time to reach out to the broad surfing community and start the voting period.
“At a time when surfers are usually all together in Torquay, watching the Bells event and socialising over the Easter long weekend, we decided to open up the voting via SurveyMonkey, thereby creating connections between surfers – albeit digitally – for an event we all hold dear,” organiser Carlo Lowden said.
Voting opened on April 6 and finishes on midnight on May 1.
“We hope to run the event later in the year, if ‘stay at home’ measures are eased, but we may also be only open to those from the 3228 postcode,” Lowden said.
The opening ceremony will also be postponed due to the limit on public gatherings.
The normal waiting period for the event has been slated for June 1 – September 13.
The Bells Beach 50-Year Storm Invitational will see local legend Shaun Brooks honoured, as a field of family, friends, local surfing royalty and big-wave chargers paddle out for a one-day invitational contest at Bells.
Shaun, a former World Junior and Victorian Open champion, took his own life in 2012 after a long battle with mental illness.
“Mental health should be in the forefront of all our minds with the worldwide lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus,” Lowdon said.
“Isolation is one of the things that brings out the demons in all of us. Depression and anxiety will be widespread due to social distancing, loss of income and the spread of the virus on loved ones.
“Talk to your mates, and ask the hard questions. Please, if you feel this way, reach out to your friends or one of our partners for help.”
He said surfing was still allowed, but only if it was required daily physical exercise.
“It may also be limited further in time, so please take the government’s advice and don’t leave home, do not travel. Stay at home.”
The 50-Year Storm event has been unsuccessful in running for the past three years. As the event is about mental illness awareness and sharing, the event’s committee is committed to running the event later in the year, with running conditions changed to “the best big day” in the waiting period.
The number of surfers in the event has grown from 18 to 30, with 25 spots voted on by the public. The other five wildcards will be decided by the Brooks family and the 50 Year Storm Committee.
More than $20,000 has been raised to benefit mental health programs in the local community over the past three years.
The event channels the fabled history of Bells Beach, with the name a cheeky reference to the 1991 cult movie Point Break, where Bodhi paddles out at Bells in the “50-year storm,” never to return.
For voting information, head to the Bells Beach 50 Year Storm Instagram page (@bellsbeach50yearstorm) or SurveyMonkey.
For more information, email Carlo Lowdon at [email protected]