HOME EVENT: Byron Bay surfer Soli Bailey will attempt to win the Ben King Memorial.
HOME EVENT: Byron Bay surfer Soli Bailey will attempt to win the Ben King Memorial. Tom Bennett

Classic board rider battle

BYRON Bay Boardriders' Ben King Memorial Classic has more than $25,000 in prizes on offer this year and surfers from far and near are signing on for the comp that kicks off this weekend at Broken Head Beach.

World Qualifying Series surfer Soli Bailey will be joined by former BK winner Luke Stickley vying for the $5000 first prize in the open men's division.

"A lot of our best local surfers have won it before going on to the world stage,” Byron Bay Boardriders club president and event organiser Neil Cameron said.

About 150 surfers will be in the water, with 32 of them contesting the open men's division. There is also an open women's division.

The event has been running for 43 years and was renamed in 2006 following the death of club stalwart Ben King, who died while competing in an event at Yamba.

"The comp was started by Mick 'Cosmic' Birch and Digger Morrow with a few surfers getting together and a couple of shops around here to put in some prizes like a couple of burgers and away it went,” Cameron said.

"It's probably the biggest amateur event in Australia now, going from being a small country-town hick competition to a major event that costs a lot of money to run, so we are really grateful to our sponsors like the Railway Hotel, TripADeal, JS Surfboards, On Board Industries, Volcom, Quiksilver Skullcandy, Beach Suites that keep it running each year.”

The competition will also feature the Willsy X Groms division instigated by Byron surfing legend Danny Wills.

"The X Groms is open to under-16 boys and girls and we have surfing all the way down to under-eights,” Cameron said.

"We've raised a lot of money over the years and we put it back into the community and help out the people who need it.”

There are professional judges and electronic scoring over the three days, making it as close to a professional competition as possible.

Raffles for a Mentawai Islands surf trip and holiday to Sri Lanka are also up for grabs.

For details go to www.byronbayboardriders. com/events/bk-memorial.