1500 surfers paddle to save Kirra Point 

The whole focus of today's community Australia Day rally is to raise the issue of the loss of Kirra Point at the highest levels of State Government, namely NSW & Queensland State Governments, who jointly manage the Tweed Sand By-Pass operation together with Gold Coast City Council and Tweed Shire Council to renegotiate the 25 year contract of pumping sand.

The community at large would like to see action on the restoration of Kirra Point considered to be one of the greatest sand bottom point breaks in the world.

After 8 years of pumping and 10 million cubic metres of sand for Gold Coast beaches only 1/8 moves north, the rest has lodged itself at Coolangatta and more so now at Kirra Beach. The sand by-pass operation began in 2001 and while it created the super bank at Snapper Rocks it wiped out Kirra and hasn't performed since the massive supply of sand to the southern end of the gold coast, the beach now resembles the Sahara Desert and has turned off beach goers. The outside reefs have been covered over and the point break is non-existent. 2002 was the last year that Kirra Point was able to host a pro-surfing event.

The campaign for restoring Kirra to all its glory will continue, thanks to the efforts of the Surfrider Foundation and their sub-committee KirraPoint.org to make recommendations and offer solutions to bring Kirra back.

Some of the biggest names in surfing turned out for the biggest rally Kirra has seen since the days when it use to pump perfect waves.

2007 World Champion, Mick Fanning, a life member of the Kirra Surfriders Club spoke about his earlier formulative years competing and free surfing at Kirra Point with his Coolangatta mates, Dean Morrison and Joel Parkinson.

Legendary surfing great Michael Peterson, better known as MP, is still considered the King of Kirra, and reflected on his tube riding sessions in the 70's era. MP took tube riding to a whole new level and he is still highly regarded as probably one of the best that Kirra has ever seen. MP came down to the waters edge to cheer on the paddlers.

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Rip Curl MP Classic 

The Rip Curl MP Classic presented by Air Asia X will again this year be held in reverence to Queensland icon and undisputed ‘King of Kirra’ Michael “MP” Peterson this weekend (January 31-February 1).

The event will run for its eighth consecutive year and has grown to be the most prestigious regional event in Queensland.

For the first time since the event’s conception in February 2002, the MP Classic is part of the Queensland Championship Circuit (QCC). The MP Classic is the second event of a total of five on the QCC and is the highest rated competition.

Shaun Gossman (Burleigh Heads, QLD) who won the MP Classic for three consecutive years (2003, 2004 and 2005) has his sights set on another title. . Gossman recently claimed first place in event number one of the QCC at Currumbin Alley (QLD) and is keen to clinch the Queensland Championship trophy.

The full list of competitors is yet to be confirmed, but those who have already put their name down include Rip Curl’s 2008 ASP Australasia Pro Junior Champion Stuart Kennedy, former World Tour surfer Nathan Hedge and Rip Curl freesurfer Dean Brady.

“It’s an honour to be competing in an event that’s held in tribute of such an awesome competitor like MP (Michael Peterson). In his time MP was one of the world’s best surfers, he’s become a piece of surfing history,” commented Kennedy.

“The MP Classic is a big event in Queensland and is widely respected amongst the surfing community. It’d be pretty cool to see one of us younger guys win it!” said Kennedy.

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Kirra Surfriders

The Kirra Surfriders Club (KSC) in conjunction with the Kirra Surf Club are hosting a Public Paddle Out on Australia Day 09 at Kirra (Monday 26th of January) to mark the loss of Kirra Point regarded as one of the best Point Breaks in the World.

The Australia Day Paddle Out will meet at 10am QLD time and paddle off Kirra Point to shape the map of Australia which will be seen visibly from on top of the Kirra Hill.

In 2001 the Tweed Sand By-Pass system was established by NSW and QLD State Governments, a unique joint agreement to replenish sand onto Gold Coast beaches that were robbed of natural sand flow due to the NSW Tweed training walls of the Tweed River and to dredge the entrance of the Tweed River for a safe boating passage. Initially the sand pumping was hailed as a success with the evolution of the Super Bank at Snapper Rocks creating a whole new sandbar from Snapper through to Coolangatta with up to 800 metre rides.

The only problem was that over the last 6 years, 10 million cubic metres valued over $60,000 million dollars was pumped into Coolangatta which was the death knoll of Kirra Point and has not broken properly since 2001.The last pro event held at Kirra was the Brothers Neilsen Pro Junior in 2002 won by Luke Munro from Bede Durbidge.

Interestingly Kirra Point still holds the highest competitive score in ASP World history when Shane Beschen of California scored three perfect 10’s (30 out of 30) at the Billabong Pro in 1996, a surfing statistic that will never be broken now that the judging format is based on the best of two scores than 3. The eventual winner of the 96 Billabong Pro was Hawaii’s Kaipo Jaquias who named his newly born daughter Kirra.

Apart from Kirra Point losing it’s famous barreling double keg section and the deepest tube rides on the Gold Coast, the reefs that created the Kirra Point wave namely the inside reef Butterbox and the Miles Street Outside reef were also buried with an over supply of sand completely wrecking the marine habitat once popular with divers and fisherman.

Currently the sand flow has moved slowly from Coolangatta Bay and into Kirra Beach which resembles a deserted oasis and a 400 metre walk to the waters edge. After 6 years of sand pumping only 1/8 of the volume has moved north along Gold Coast beaches with the majority of sand volume lodged at Coolangatta  and more so at Kirra and especially North Kirra. It’s the biggest pile-up of sand ever seen from Kirra to North Kirra, yet the sand continues to pump from the main outlet at Lovers Rock, Point Danger.

The idea behind the Australia Day Paddle Out is to demonstrate that the community at large care about their public amenity and will endeavor to convince the State Governments and Local Council Authorities that something needs to be done.

Ironically both State Governments are facing the polls this year and the Kirra Point situation is now developing into a red hot political State election issue. At the core of that matter is the 25 year contract between NSW and QLD to continue pumping irregardless of future damage to the surf and reefs although the latest word is that the NSW Department of Lands are privately conceding that too much sand has been pumped and are trying to assess the operation with possible changes for the future, yet the Sand Contractor continues to pump sand into Snapper, Coolangatta and Kirra.

There are many options being considered  to seek out solutions namely selective pumping, dredging the unwanted sand, sand sculpturing the beach and restoring dunes to allow the sand to flow, alternative sand pumping outlets and adjusting the volumes of sand so as not to repeat the current over supply of sand.

International Surfrider has just won a major battle in California to stop development of Trestles, one of the last bastions of undeveloped California coastlines and also a venue for the ASP World Tour event, the Boost Mobile Pro.

President of the Kirra Surfriders club Stuart Ball welcomes the public to attend the Paddle Out for Kirra Point on Australia Day.

“We are very concerned to lose our local break and to see the public amenity reduced to a desert and the marine reefs wiped out. As a board riding club which helps foster junior development, we have lost one of the best training grounds and we would like to see this quintessential bank returned for the future. The Paddle Out normally reserved for the loss of life and tragedy’s is our way of getting everyone together to demonstrate in a positive and passive way the loss of one of the best breaks in the World. Enough is enough, we’re homesick for Kirra and we want our break back!”

During the 60’s, it was the training ground for Peter Drouyn, Keith Paul and the Deane Bros, in the 70’s it was Michael Peterson, PT and Rabbit Bartholomew, in the 80’s Joe Engel, Glen Rawlings, Munga Barry and in the Nineties, Coolangatta’s Joel Parkinson, Mick Fanning and Dean Morrison known as the Cooly Kids competed there as Pro Juniors. Parko is very passionate about the loss of Kirra Point rated 4th on the ASP World rankings and 2008 Hawaiian Triple Crown champion, Joel would love to see Kirra Point back in action.

“I am really upset about the loss of Kirra Point and would dearly love to see it restored in all its glory. Dean (Morrison), Mick (Fanning) and I were fortunate to surf and compete there as junior’s through-out the 90’s, today’s kids have really missed out and as a Father, I would like to see Kirra Point restored for future generations.”

Event coordinator of the Australia Day 09 Paddle Out at Kirra Andrew McKinnon had his first surfing lesson at Kirra in 1962 with the late Billy Rack and believes that we can bring back Kirra Point but it won’t happen overnight.

“Surely with all the existing infracture in place and some creative engineering on the Southern Points from Snapper to Kirra, We could have the best of both worlds with good sandbanks for waves and enough sand for the beachgoer. The over supply of sand has been a blatant waste of taxpayers money and the loss of public amenity is gut wrenching,  the problem needs urgent attention by both NSW & QLD State Governments working in with Tweed and Gold Coast Councils to fine tune the operation. Right now there is so much sand at Kirra Beach not even a tsunami could move it!”

At the Australia Day Paddle Out rally, a group of concerned locals will address the crowd including Marine Biologists Bob Moffatt and Neal Lazarow, Surfing Legends Michael Peterson, Wayne Deane and John Standing. State and local politicians will be present to speak including Ian Cohen MP Green from NSW, QLD member of Currumbin Jann Stuckey, State Candidate for Currumbin Michael Riordan and Southern Gold Coast Councilor Chris Robbins and Tweed Shire Greens Councilor. Local Gold Coast Band, Quiet Excitement will perform the National Anthem and also play their popular hit single, “Let Kirra be Kirra.”

National Surfrider Foundation and its Tweed/Gold Coast chapter are totally behind the Australia Day Paddle Out. Recently the International Surfrider Foundation won a major battle to save Trestles in California, the venue of the ASP WCT event the Boost Mobile Pro from a major development. Trestles is one of the last bastions of coastal land in California which has been saved thanks to the efforts of the local community and the Surfrider Foundation.

Supporting the Australia Day 09 Paddle Out at Kirra includes Surfing Professionals such as current 2 times ASP Womens World Champ Stephanie Gilmore, No 2 in the ASP World Mens Tour Bede Durbidge, No 4  Joel Parkinson, 2007 World Champ Mick Fanning and 1999 World Champ Mark “Occy” Occhilupo.