Spirit of Surfing is a movement started by surfer Peter Cuming in 1995 with support from surf elders Rob Conneelly, Nat Young and surf artist Roscoe Kermode. It's organised as the Spirit of Surfing Trust and promotes harmony among surfers and respect for the ocean, the land, and indigenous culture.
In October 1998 at Margaret River, Western Australia the group erected a Tribal Law plaque, explaining surfers' rules of right-of-way and respect.Tribal Law was developed by Rob Conneelly based on the verbally shared "Gentlemen's Rules" of old, seeded by ideas and discussion with Peter Cuming, liaison with Wayne Murphy and design support from Roscoe Kermode. This has evolved into the Surfers Code which Nat has developed further.
This was followed by the Victorian East Coast Boardriders adopting the Tribal law principles for their organisation and developing a poster promoting the code of ethics in the water. North Sydney chapter of the Surfrider Foundation then adfopted and developed these principles ina poster disgributed across Sydney beaches.
In 2000 when Nat Young was seriously assaulted in a "surf rage" incident at Angourie Point, he gave $7000 he got for a television interview to the movement. These funds were used to support the work of the movement including the development of the Bells Beach SoS project. Nat Young has continued to fund the development and erection of Surfers Code signage at a range of locations in Australia, Europe and the USA.
Through 2000 to 2002 at Bells Beach and SoS working group supported by SoS consulted with local surfing groups, aboriginal traditional owners and the local council, Surf Coast Shire to have erected key stones reading "Respect the Ocean", "Respect the Land", "Respect each Other", as a local interpretation of the surfing spirit. These stones are seen by all surfers who use the path to the famous Bells Beach break.
SoS supported the Spirit of Surfing/ Surf Elders Gathering held at Byron Bay in June 2000, and then worked with the Surf Coast Shire based at Torquay on the Victorian west coast to hold the 2nd SoS Gathering at Torquay in April 2003 just before the Bells annual contest.
The group has deliberately not accepted industry logos or sponsorship on the basis that it would dilute their message, and has supported action by and participated in organsations such as the National Surfing Reserves Committee which has estalbished surfing reserves such as Lennoix Head in NSW.
SoS is in the process of developing a website which provides information on the range of SoS and Surfers Code projects, as well as surf elders, well known designers, shapers, professional, recreational and free surfers, artists, musicians and activists expressing what the spirit of surfing means to them.
- Spirit of Surfing information guide at Surf Coast Shire Council.
- Surf Rage, edited by Nat Young, Nymboida Press, 2000, ISBN 0-9585750-1-0
- Spirit of Surfing Gatherings: 2000 and 2003.
- Article by Neal Miyake, showing the Tribal Law plaque and text (just past half-way down).
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