Celebrating Early Boardriders and Women in SLS and the ‘North Steyners’ circa 1912

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Are you after an interesting read whilst in ‘lockdown’?

Check out this piece in the Peninsula Historian – Newsletter of the Manly, Warringah and Pittwater Historial Society Inc.

Timely, when this is the year we are celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Women’s involvement in active SLS activities. #WomenInSLS

The article relays a remarkable rescue that took place in March 1911; the first time anyone had heard of, a male surfer was rescued by a young woman.

The customary procedure in the surf at Manly when a channel is formed is for men to be continually rescuing ladies from the dangerous water. This, however, was reversed about 5.30 o’clock yesterday morning, when Miss Ivy Schilling, the well-known dancer of “Our Miss Gibbs” Company, saved Mr Tom Walker, one of the most skilful surfers who frequent South Steyne Beach.

Walker had been shooting the breakers for some time, when a wave carried him into deep water. He states that he was then seized with a violent cramp in the stomach, and threw up his hands. Jack Reynolds, the Manly life-saver, was basking on the beach, not being on duty; and he took no notice of Walker going under for the simple reason that he knew him to be a strong swimmer. Walker said he realised this would likely occur and felt his position to be all the more desperate on that account. Just as he was faced with this ordeal he noticed someone swimming strongly towards him. He was taken hold of, and assisted into shallow water. By this time “Happy” Eyre, the relieving beach attendant, had dashed in to his assistance. Both were surprised to see that Walker’s rescuer was a girl. She had handled the emergency coolly and expertly, and there was considerable enthusiasm when she helped the beach attendant drag Walker out of the water. After working on the young man for some minutes he recovered. Walker attributes his trouble to going into the water too soon after breakfast.

It also goes on to talk about the rise of the ‘Surfboard Rider’ and the fun they had at a North Steyne surf carnival in January 1912.

… Tommy Walker was receiving equal acclaim as a surfboard rider. He is credited with having brought the first Hawaiian surfboard to Australian in 1909.

The Daily Telegraph, reported the exploits of Walker and others at a North Steyne surf carnival in January 1912 as follows: Mr Tommy Walker went out with his Hawaiian surfboard … at a disadvantage. To come ashore in view of the spectators, he had to swim out some distance north of the enclosure, for the undertow swept him southwards at a great rate. The surfboard wave shooting exhibitions are, when the weather is favourable, well worth witnessing. A practical swimmer performs remarkable evolutions on these boards. He will come in nonchalantly upright on the crest of a breaker, or balancing on the board on his head, with his legs aloft. An interesting exhibition of breaker-shooting was given by a number of North Steyners.