Sunday, March 14, 2010

Slater says Aussie beaches world's best - 13th March 2010

Surfing great Kelly Slater says Australia has the best beaches in the world and he wants to know why Prime Minister Kevin Rudd isn't using them.

The nine-time world champion was at Sydney's Bondi Beach on Saturday to announce a new initiative which recognises significant beaches around the globe.

One iconic Australian beach, which has not yet been named, will be among the first to be declared a world `surfing reserve'.

The sites were chosen from 150 beaches nominated by 34 countries, and also include Waikiki in Hawaii and Malibu in California.

Beaches in Western Australia, Queensland and NSW are all in the running, and Mr Rudd has been invited to make the declaration in October.

While explaining the benefits of the scheme, Slater threw down a challenge to the Prime Minister after raving about Australia's offerings.

"What sort of surf board is (he) riding? Rudd, where are you, come on?" Slater said.

"And Peter Garrett, we gotta get that guy in the water too - he is supposed to be a keen body surfer."

Slater is one of many elite surfers supporting the World Surfing Reserves organisation, modelled from an Australian version which successfully lobbied for the legal protection of beaches deemed as significant surfing spots.

Thanks to the efforts of Australia's National Surfing Reserves (NSR), seven beaches in NSW have been given the declaration designed to preserve beaches for generations to come under the Crown Lands Act.

NSR chairman Brad Farmer said the concept was so successful it's now being replicated in California, Scotland and Hawaii.

"It's the first time in history surfing has been recognised in law, so it's really extraordinary," Mr Farmer told AAP.

"Now the legislation is being used around the world, so it's going world-wide in a very short time.

Slater said Australia was well deserving of international recognition.

"I love the beaches in Australia," he told AAP.

"It really has all the variety of cold to warm, sand to reef and point breaks to beach breaks so you really have more variety in Australia than probably anywhere."