Cronulla’s only truly International surfing event, the Bodyboard King Shark Island Challenge is making a welcome comeback to the shallow reef slab for 2024.

For over 20 years, Cronulla’s Shark Island has been a proving ground for high-performance bodyboarding in Australia. This competition runs uniquely as a world tour specialty bodyboarding event where twenty athletes are invited including six local surfers who call the break their own.

Cronulla bodyboarder Mark Sadler pulls into a solid Shark Island pit last month during a good nor-east swell. Picture John Veage

The Shark Island Challenge first started in 1997, and was a very informal and local event.

The championship got increasing attention in the following years when it was held in some perfect big waves of consequence and was promoted to an international World Tour event sanctioned by the International Bodyboarding Association in 2002, eventually turning out to be the premiere event of the world tour.

Shark Island can only be surfed for two hours on either side of high tide and a miscalculated move can land you on dry reef so the event needs a particular set of conditions to be viable – hence its two months waiting period.

The event waiting period is proposed to span between the months of June and July of 2024 to capture the most ideal conditions, combining the best swell, wind and importantly tide.

Kurnell Reccas club will host the presentation with May 23 the opening day of the waiting period. It has been won by bodyboarding’s greatest ever competitor, nine times world champion Mike Stewart, along with Cronulla’s ISA World Champion Andrew Lester. Six time world champion Brazilian Guilherme Tamega is the bodyboarder with the most number of victories sitting at three straight from 2002-2004.

Internationals riders will be bolstered by Mike Stewart, Pierre Louis Costes, Hawaiian world champion Tanner McDaniel and locals Andrew Lester, Shaun Pyne and Jack Baker will be representing Cronulla.

Last held in 2017 the rebirthed event is in the hands of three local surfers Luke ,Sam Venn and Mark who said the event shouldn’t be allowed to just die.

“Drawing in a range of international riders to come up against the best local talent has been the cornerstone of success in relation to engagement and viewers for this prestigious competition, so that’s the format we are going with again,” they said

“The SIC is recognised globally by the greater surfing community to be one of the most dangerous and honourable contests to be a part of, holding stead as one of the most challenging waves in the world to surf.”

The trio have secured a naming rights sponsor ‘Bodyboard King’ and have Sporting News lined up to produce the epic surfing footage that is watched around the whole surfing world- when the Island is on its as good as it gets. Due to world-wide spectator support, it is regarded as the best specialty bodyboarding championship, with riders not only competing against each other but facing the challenges of riding the unforgiving wave.

By John Veage (theleader.com.au)

Original Article – https://www.theleader.com.au/story/8462986/bodyboard-king-shark-island-challenge-returns-in-2024/