Barney Miller Charity Surf Classic returns to Coffs Harbour in 2021

Barney Miller winning the World Adaptive Surf Championships in 2017.


THIS year’s Barney Miller Charity Surf Classic will be held on 25-28 March and this year’s beneficiary will be local treasure Matt ‘Chooky’ Clerke, who suffered a tragic accident two years ago where he broke his C3/4 vertebrae, paralysing him instantly.

Chooky is a lifelong surfer, a local builder for 50 years and a community football volunteer who served for 20 years helping children and adults play the sports they love, and now the community is giving back.

It’s been a long and tough two years of rehabilitation for Chooky, whose determination is inspiring as he navigates through the rehabilitation program with gritted teeth followed by a smile.

Exercise Physiologist Brett Caller, who is also a surfer, told News Of The Area, “He never misses a day, there’s no poor me, he gets here and wants to get on with it, he inspires me.

“His injury is an incomplete quadriplegic leaving him with very little function initially from the neck down, initially he couldn’t walk five metres and now he’s walking around 400 metres in 45 minutes with a forearm support frame.

“Initially he couldn’t cycle on a stationary bike but now he can cycle for 20 mins, he can complete three sets of ten bridges or hip extension on the bed and can walk ten metres with my assistance.

“We also focus on upper limbs and hand strength, range of motion, functional and coordination,” said Caller.

The Barney Miller Charity Surf Classic was founded in 2000 after Barney Miller suffered debilitating injuries from a motor vehicle accident.

The proceeds helped Miller’s rehabilitation in the first year and for the next 20 years Miller has worked tirelessly to grow the competition to help more surfers with debilitating injuries whilst also pursuing his own surfing dreams.

In 2017 Miller realised his dream to become a world surfing champion, winning the 2017 ISA World Adaptive Surf Championships.

Miller’s stoic response after winning the world title was, “I guess if you just keep saying it, and you fake it till you make it, it’ll happen.”

As you can imagine, the COVID-19 cancellation of last year’s event did not deter Miller, and made him even more determined to make the 2021 event a success.

“The theme for this year’s event is to take everyone on a journey around the world as we can’t travel with the current world situation.

“Friday night kicks off with a Mexican fiesta at Lime Mexican in Sawtell so dress for Mexico, it will be all you can eat with two drinks included plus karaoke and a prize for best dressed.

“Bookings can be made through Lime Mexican Sawtell’s website.

“Saturday night is Cruise Ship Trivia at the Sawtell RSL, so dress in your cruise ship attire.

Food will be included so come test your knowledge, and tickets can be booked through the RSL.

“Both nights are for all ages,” said Miller.

The Barney Miller Classic has enticed a growing number of competitors each year, with 2019 attracting the most surfers in its 20 year history, with competitors travelling from the Sunshine Coast in the north to Sydney in the south.

As a result, the surfing categories have increased over the years and now include Cadets, Juniors, Opens, Over 28s, Over 40’s Mens, Open and Junior Womens.




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