It’s not just a tag line, Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew truly is the God Father of Australian Surfing!
First venturing into the waves as an eager twelve-year-old, Wayne would quickly establish himself as a surfer of extreme talent, progressing from grass roots surfer to the elite level in a relatively short space of time.
Crowned Australian boys champion in 1972, Rabbit captured a host of State and national titles before turning professional in 1977 and finishing runner up in his first year on tour.
Rated top five in the world for an incredible seven years, Wayne captured the World Title in 1978, however it’s perhaps his devotion to assisting emerging surfers and developing the surf that he will be best remembered for.
From mentoring emerging surfers and imparting technical knowledge and preparing athletes for life on tour, Wayne has continually given back to the sport for more than three decades.
From his work as Surfing Australia’s National Coaching Director, through to his work with the Wayne Bartholomew Academy of Surfing and the creation of the ASP Association Of Surfing Professionals, currently known as the World Surf League, Wayne has been instrumental in the establishment of professional surfing and the success of many of Australia’s male and female World Champions.
A fierce environmental campaigner, Wayne entered local politics as a candidate for Burleigh where he strives to protect surfing, the local environment and the Ocean.
Wayne’s vision for an event like the Usher Cup began in January this year following a conversation with Head Judge Stace Galbraith. The two were deeply concerned for the lack of opportunities presented to young emerging talent.
Even before COVID-19 decimated world sport, Rabbit believed there needed to be an event which promoted, assisted and encouraged the next batch of emerging stars to strive for higher honours.
The concept took a major step closer following a meeting between Wayne and Usher Group Founder Theodore Vairaktaris who initially impressed Rabbit with his own ‘Rabbit Bartholomew Vintage Hot Stuff’ surfboard.
“Theodore is a guy that gets stuff done, he is driven, ambitious and has a good heart,” Rabbit said.
Together they exchanged their values and found that their vision to make a positive contribution to the community aligned perfectly with one another and the Usher Cup was created after the pair agreed to a COVID adapted, hybrid event with strong charity driven focus. “I have always liked to support children and youth charities. I have been involved with Surfers Against Natural Disasters who raise a lot of money for homeless youth, sick children and seriously challenged youth,” Bartholomew said.
“I also am excited to be working with Washbox. From a surfing point of view, anything we can do to clean up the ocean makes a difference,” he said. Washbox is an Usher Cup partner that provides environmentally sustainable techniques of cleaning industrial tools and disposing of waste to ultimately stop toxins polluting the ocean.
Rabbit is also a massive fan of the Usher Cup’s commitment to celebrating young talent.
“When I was a kid I daydreamed about professional surfing and my generation wielded it into existence by celebrating personal bests in grassroots and club events,” he said.
When formulating the event, it was decided to have a three-tiered sponsoring category encompassing Gold, Silver and Bronze categories. Within only three hours, Theodore Vairaktaris had filled all sponsor slots with construction companies who agreed to be involved with the event. “It truly reflects how much respect people have for Theodore and the Usher Group. It is purely through his respect for both his industry and the community that he was able to call upon his colleagues in the construction industry to come forth and support the event,”
Rabbit hopes to showcase to the general public that surf riding clubs are community conscious and all wish to make a positive change in the surfing world. “I hope the public can see the goodness in it, the exact same goodness I saw in it when I was a kid”
The Usher Cup will run from the 29th to the 31st of January 2021at Duranbah Beach and Snapper Rocks.