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WAVE OF MEMORIES
News Source: Sunshine Coast Sunday (20th November 2007)
by Peter Gardiner
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Surfers head out for the Steve Irwin Classic

HOW good was that!

You could just about hear the voice of Steve Irwin echoing off the beach at Moffats, where he would trade his khaki shorts and shirt for boardies and some ripping right-handers off the point break every chance he got.

The sight of so many fellow surf fanatics getting out and having a go for the Crikey Cup would have had Steve punching his fists in excitement.

And he might also have had a wry chuckle to see his good mate at Australia Zoo, Wes Mannion, was still sliding down the face of a wave as gracefully as he jumps on a croc's back.

To top things off, even the sea life seemed to feel the spirit of Steve at hand.

After the paddle-out of 100 surfers to honour the late Croc Hunter, who continues to inspire millions of people around the world, a green turtle joined in.

As the surfers solemnly formed a circle, it broke the surface in the middle - one of a number of the local turtles that seemed drawn to Moffat Beach yesterday.

Wes was elated by the big roll-up to the surfing leg of the Cup, which also involved a team golf day on Friday.

"It's a chance for people to get out there and celebrate his life," Wes said.

"A lot of his surfing mates are here today. Most of the people here would have surfed in or around him over the years.

"Steve was absolutely passionate about his surfing. When he got out of the water at Moffats or Curra (Currimundi) after a big surf he was just on cloud nine."

Al Hing of Beach Beat may have helped come up with the fun cup concept, but it was his 13-year-old daughter, Tianni, who best summed up what they were out there for.

"I think it's a good way to appreciate what he did for anybody. It was getting out, getting close to nature - it made us feel good about him," she said.

Wes's favourite surfing memory of Steve was one that the Croc Hunter's good mate almost did not survive.

"When I first started surfing with him, Steve said 'Wes, let's go to Samoa' and the waves were like 10 foot plus and I nearly drowned," Wes said.

"He'd be there saying 'here, Wes, get on this one' and I'd be saying 'no!'.

"Nothing scared him."

There was talk yesterday of the time Steve was surfing during a shark sighting, which Al found amusing.

Instead of bolting for the shore like other surfers, the Croc Hunter is supposed to have ducked his head under the water trying to get a better look.

"That'd be him all right," Al said.


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