A milestone for world surfaris


World Surfaris, known globally for its surf travel exploits will reach a major milestone in 2024 managing their 6th consecutive Festival. During that time World Surfaris Chairman, John Finlay, has been faced with several challenges including Cyclone Oma washing away the beach completely, in 2019, followed closely by Covid de-railing world travel and events for the majority of 2020 and 2021.

But despite these setbacks, John has taken it all in his stride along with Event Director, Josh Allen.

We had a brief chat with John, to get his thoughts on the upcoming Festival, where it started and where its heading and what he and the Festival team have planned next year.

Q: Hi John, can you tell us about your history with the Noosa Festival of Surfing before World Surfaris ran it?

JF: “One of the very first events I went to after joining World Surfaris (WS) was the Noosa Festival of Surfing (NFOS). The year was 2014 & the surf pumped the entire time! As a sponsor, WS provided an exotic overseas surf adventure for 2 as a competitor prize. The catch was you had to be in the beach bar at the award presentations to claim it – if your name was drawn from the hat. For 5 years we sponsored the Festival and I attended them all and thoroughly enjoyed everything it was about.

Q: In 2018, World Surfaris took over from Phil Jarratt after 25 years of running the Festival. What made you put your hand up and has it turned out to be what you expected?

JF: As mentioned, we sponsored the Festival for 5 years before the opportunity emerged to take over the management of NFOS. Without hesitation, WS put up its hand. We had experienced the obvious joy that international competitors exuded at being in Noosa. We felt that there were major aspects of the event that we could excel at. We worked with the Noosa Malibu Club on an agreement that worked for both sides. We held extensive public consultation meetings and got a lot of useful feedback. Since running our first Festival in 2019, I think we have come a long way and actually improved the Festival beyond even our wildest dreams and we aren’t done yet!

Q: What are some of your proudest achievements with the Festival to date and what can we expect in 2024?

JF: We are delighted that the competitors, the Noosa Community and the general public have been so supportive of our initiatives with NFOS. In our first year, we eliminated single-use plastics & introduced our Sustainability Pledge & Report. We have subsequently become the gold standard in the Noosa Shire for environment-friendly events – an achievement of which we are very proud.

I think something has to be said about the two years of Covid. It tried really hard to de-rail the Festival. Despite World Surfaris being badly affected by the closure of international travel for two years, NFOS was a beaming light in an otherwise dark time. Apart from having to move the Festival from the usual March timing to May (in 2021). Now that travel is not just back but almost at the forefront of most surfers’ minds, it is wonderful to welcome back our international NFOS competitors. To simply emerge from the covid nightmare was a major triumph for many enterprises. WS has not only emerged but is in very good shape – sending Australian and International surfers to the places they have dreamed about. And enjoying welcoming our international friends back to NFOS.

There other achievement worth noting is that we have turned the Festival back into a holistic celebration of surfing in its truest form. We put on a great show and have made several improvements to the competition with a fantastic judging panel, the beach bar is an incredible spectacle and has developed a flattering reputation with locals, interstate and overseas audiences and we continue to innovate subsidiary events both big and small such as; art shows, charity dinners and surf film nights.

Q: We hear you have signed up for another 5 years? Is this true and could you possibly continue to innovate an event that will enter its 33rd year in 2024?

JF: The rumours are true. The past 5 years have been a great success in building a relationship with the Noosa Malibu Club and we look forward to making the next 5 years official very soon. We simply want to honor the club’s legacy by putting on a terrific spectacle that this Festival is known for. We will certainly do our best to continue flying the flag and introducing new and exciting events. One of my favourite sayings is “if you dont evolve, you dissolve”.

You can catch all the action, latest news and updates by visiting the Noosa Festival of Surfing website or following their social media accounts.

The Festival next year is the 8th – 17th March with a full schedule of surf events and culture events to be announced in the not-too-distant future.

As for overseas holidays. If you’re keen to get barreled out of your brains, World Surfaris is the go-to surf travel company getting you to the perfect spots since 1997! Head to www.worldsurfaris.com and start shopping for your next surf sojourn abroad!

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