SILVER surfers in their 60s and 70s are on the crest of a wave. That's the view of Phil Jarratt, founder of the Noosa Festival of Surfing, now recognised as one of the most popular events in international surfing.
Next month the festival celebrates its 25th year and surfers like Layne Beachley, Tom Carroll and Peter Townend are among the record number of 20 global champions coming to Noosa for the eight-day festival as well as a record 700-plus competitors.
For seniors, interest will centre on big wave performer and winner of the 1965 world surfing championships at Punta Rocas, Peruvian Felipe Pomar.
Felipe is 73 and beat legends like Midget Farrelly and Nat Young for the title. Phil is convinced Felipe will spark even more interest among baby boomers.
"I introduced a division for the over 70s about three years ago. This year we have 12 competitors and that's a 100% increase over last year.
"Boomers start with a birth date of 1945 and they will be turning 70 this year. Next year is when we will really see Boomers kicking on so I would anticipate that the over 70s in two or three years will be one of the biggest divisions we have.
"The number of Boomer surfers won't just stop. Our healthcare is much better, there are so many advances in medical knowledge now that you can be a lot fitter and older. I'm seeing that in surfing all over."
The over 70s division is called The Magoo Memorial.
"It's in honour of Barry McGuigan, one of our oldest competitors who died in late 2014 aged 85. He was incredibly fit and had been coming to the festival since it began," Phil said.
After 25 years the passion is still there for Phil.
"I'm incredibly proud to have been involved in something that has increased the stature of surfing not just here in Noosa and Australia but around the world," he said.
"It's not about winning. It's about who we are and what we do and celebrating all those other elements of our culture and the sport of surfing."
March 5-12 at Noosa
A record 700-plus competitors from 20 surf zones: Australia, Taiwan, New Caledonia, US East Coast, California, Hawaii, France, New Zealand, Peru, Britain, Japan, Brazil, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Jersey/Channel Islands, Portugal, Fiji, Bali, Java, China.
A record 31 different events, from under 15 boys and girls up to over 70s plus a number of elite prizemoney and specialty events.
Disciplines include longboard, stand-up paddleboard, finless, bodysurfing, dog surfing and surf lifesaving paddleboards.