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Surf's up, suits off: Nude surfing events in Australia

January 27, 1998
Web posted at: 1:42 p.m. EST (1842 GMT)

NEW SOUTH WALES, Australia (CNN) -- They are so steamed up about the lack of a nude bathing beach at Byron Bay that they're taking it all off to protest-- and then, bottom's up, literally.

Dozens of people gathered on the sizzling El Nino-warmed sands of Belongil Beach on Monday for the annual nude-surfing event. Crowds of supporters stood around as the competitors made their point and rode the waves. Police were there too but seemed to turn a blind eye to the event, despite the fact that the swimmers got a lot of exposure.

Organizers say only a tiny percentage of residents of the former hippie enclave on the northeast coast of New South Wales oppose establishing a beach head for so called "nudies." Even critics who attended the nude-surfing contest said the idea of a local nude beach is fine as long as the main beach can remain a bastion for bathing suits.

Most states in Australia have nude beaches and across the country nude surfing is quite popular and growing more so despite the obvious hazards. There's even a nude-surfing champion.

At Sydney's famous Bondi Beach, two-time winner Rod Cox was stripped of his title, thanks to a cold current and some stiff competition on Tuesday. Todd Haywood claimed the top spot before a crowd of some 3,000 onlookers. The judges were apparently quite impressed with Heywood's ability to ride the surf sitting like a Buddha.

 
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