PAM Lane was a child of the swinging '60s. Born in 1949, she caught the surfing bug at 14 and remembers lugging her first board - a 9' Gordon and Woods malibu - to Bar Beach during "a long hot summer" in 1963.
She says she and her friends were so inspired by the "out of town" surfers at the 1964 Mattara contest that they formed the Newcastle Girl Boardriders' Club, which held its first contest at Blacksmiths Beach on February 25, 1965. They had 25 members by year's end.
Pam and two other Merewether girls from those early years - Nancy Newburn and Judy Clements - are on our list as being up there with the best, at a time when surfing was a new pursuit for everyone, not just women.
THE STORY SO FAR:
- Ten point rides: Newcastle's best surfers across the decades
- 'Girls can't surf?' Yes they can. And how
- Boardriding brilliance on the bus from Wallsend: Kelly Bashford
- Longer hair, shorter boards: Peter Cornish
- 'Radical Roger' Clements, with rare 1968 video footage
- Opposite ends: Smooth Belinda Baggs and the frantic Sabre Norris
- The impossibly stylish Craig Anderson
- Paige Haggerston: Aussie champ at 17
It was a tight-knit group. Nancy's brother was another Merewether standout, Jim Newburn, and Judy Clements was the sister of our No.9 male surfer, Roger Clements.
Peter Cornish's sister Judy was another. She married Robbie Wood, father of Nicky. Pam married Bob Lynch, and their son Travis Lynch entered the Merewether club hall of fame in 2019 for his performances as a touring pro on the World Qualifying Series. Surfing, then, is in the family genes.
Pam lives nowadays at Sawtell and still follows the surfing scene closely. Like everyone else, she is amazed at the skill of the current crop of top women, saying there "are so many brilliant women surfers right now".
"My dad said back then, 'it's just a cult,' it won't last long," she laughs. Pam remembers more women riding longboards than surfed after the shortboard revolution hit in the late 1960s.
"My first 'surfari' was to Crescent Head and I was stoked by the long, gentle waves," she says.
"My surfing improved, and I entered the Mattara and the NSW titles and made the nationals at Manly in 1966-67."
Judy Clements was born in 1952 and is regarded as the best of the early Merewether women. She placed fifth in the national titles in 1970, and third in 1971, on a footing with such highly regarded names as Judy Trim, Gail Couper and Phyllis O'Donnell.
But as Roger Clements said yesterday: "There just weren't that many opportunities for the women."
There weren't a lot of appropriate surfing costumes either. Pam remembers buying a pair of lawn bowling shorts to wear in a contest, saying she didn't want to worry about wardrobe malfunctions.
"My girlfriends and I made our own surf clothes, Hawaiian print dresses and board shorts," she says.
"We bought our first bikinis - they were considered to be outrageous at the time! We had to beg our parents to lets us go to see the surf movies at the Melvic Theatre at Belmont, because most of the Newcastle surfing community would be there."
In 1998, the Newcastle Herald featured a series titled the "A to Z of Hunter sport".
The September 28 piece on surfing concluded by saying: "Prominent young women surfers have included Pam Lane and Judy Clements, and among those making a name for themselves today are Stacey Lancaster, Tahnee Horadam and Ainslie Shoemaker.
Among the young surfers with a bright future is 13-year-old Travis Lynch, son of Bob and Pam Lynch, other prominent surfers (Pam was Pam Lane).
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