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Byron Shire
April 17, 2021

Ma Bendall see Phyllis tag Lennox All Girls

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Georgia, Phyllis, Maz and Berenice.
Georgia, Phyllis, Maz and Berenice.

On Sunday the Lennox All Girls Surfriders Club hosted the annual Ma Bendall – Phyllis O’Donnell Memorial Tag Team Shield event.

The memeriol shield was created to honour the contribution to Australian women’s surfing by these two pioneering women surfers.

It is an event that celebrates women’s surfing and promotes comradery.

Ma Bendall settled in Caloundra in the 1950s with her husband Pa.

There were only a handful of surfers living locally at the time and Ma and Pa became the mother and father of surfing on the Sunshine Coast.

In 1966 they formed the invitational ‘Moffateers’ as a club to promote integrity and sportsmanship within the sport of surfing, using club contests as training and conditioning for more challenging contests.

Phyllis O’Donnell won the first ever World Surfing Championships at Manley Beach in 1964 in front of a crowd of 65,000.

At the time of her win, surfing was dominated by men and her championship was regarded as a step forward for women’s recognition in the sport.

Phyllis also won the women’s division of the Australia National Titles in surfing in 1963, 1964 and 1965, she was also a threat in top international competitions in the 60s and early 70s.

Lennox All Girls, Mid North Coast Girls Surfriders and Sunshine Coast Girls Surfriders  with Phyllis O'Donnell.
Lennox All Girls, Mid North Coast Girls Surfriders and Sunshine Coast Girls Surfriders with Phyllis O’Donnell.

Retiring from competition in 1974, Phyllis became the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame’s 16th inductee in 1996.

In 2014 Phyllis was inducted into the Surfing Walk of Fame as that year’s women of the year, the walk is in Huntington Beach, California.

The first inter-club event held to compete for the shield was in 1986 on the Sunshine Coast, and was won by the Sunshine Coast Women in the Waves.

It was not until 1996 that the contest was held again, and from that year until 2007 it was contested by Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Lennox All Girls Surfriders. The format during this time consisted of heats for opens, juniors, beginners and longboarders.

Due to the demise of the women’s clubs on the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast, the shield was not officially contested again until 2013 when Mid Coast Girls Surfriders and Tweed Coast Surfer Girls Clubs travelled to Lennox Head to compete, with the event being contested via the current Tag Team format.

This year invitations were sent to Surfing Australia registered all female surfing cubs around the country, with a newly formed Sunshine Coast Girls Surfriders Club and the Mid North Coast GIrls Surfriders accepting the challenge.

Phyllis O’Donnell joined in with the event this year to help with the presentation of the shield, it was absolutely amazing to be in the presence of a pioneer for women’s surfing.

The shield was contested in conditions that suited everyone’s abilities, with most of the girls getting some super fun waves.

Lots of laughs were had by all, new friendships made and old friends reunited, a great day was had by everyone.

This year the shield was won by the Lennox All Girls Surfriders Club, however all those that competed walked away with smiles and more experiences than before, which makes everybody a winner.

Thanks goes to Mel Mott for her wonderful organisation of the event and the dinner on the Saturday night before, thanks to the ladies who did a fabulous job organising and serving up lunch to many many hungry surfers after the event.

Thanks also to the club presidents, captains and to the teams that made the journey to Lennox to compete in this wonderful event, without all of your efforts this memorial shield could not be contested.


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