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2015 Duke’s Day centenary celebrations in Oz.

Duke’s Day celebration commemorating the centenary of Duke Kahanamoku’s visit to OZ in 1915.

Former WA surfer Peter ‘Doc’ Docherty (now resident NSW central coast) attended the Duke’s Day re-enactment held at Freshwater Beach NSW on Sat 10 January 2015.

Doc’s report follows:-

“I went down to Freshie to check out the Duke’s Day celebrations yesterday. Arrived just in time to catch the actual re-enactment. What an experience for the young kids chosen to participate. The surf was pretty shitty & they could only catch a wave with a really late take off. The Hawaiian guy had it sorted, but the young Aussie guy had a lot of problems. The young girl (Lisa McDonald) re-enacting Isabella Letham’s exploits was up and charging on the first wave. Got a big cheer from the crowd.

The replica board they were using was built for the occasion by Tom Wegener. The original Duke board is still in its glass case in the Clubbies rooms. Duke’s plank weighs in at 35kg. Good to see the big “Olo” Surfboard on display. (Olo originally reserved for Hawaiian royalty due to its size and weight, these wooden boards can exceed lengths of 24 feet (7.3 m) and reach weights up to 200 pounds (91 kg). Tom Wegener was also the builder of the Olo replica. It is a reproduction of an Olo board in the Bishop Museum in Hawaii. I reckon it would slide nicely on Yalls left out wide. There was an old plank 30’s vintage with a painting of Donald Duck on it, owned by a bloke called Roger. Veteran WA surfer Brian Cole might remember him. When a big wave came along his mates all used to call out “Lookout Roger. Duck!”

Photos #1 Re-enactment at Freshwater Beach: (Left) Duke & replica board. (Right) Duke & Isabella tandem surfing display. Photos courtesy Peter Docherty.

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Photos #2: Surf memorabilia on display in SLSC rooms (Left) Duke’s original surfboard in glass case. (Right) Duke 100th Anniversary Print. Photos Courtesy Peter Docherty.

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Photos #3: Surf memorabilia on display in SLSC rooms. (Left) Two plywood toothpick surfboards and an Olo replica surfboard shaped by Tom Wegener. (Right) Vintage timber surfboards & memorabilia. Photos courtesy Peter Docherty.

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For full details of the Duke’s 1915 surf demonstration at Freshwater refer Tim Baker’s Australia’s Century of Surf book.