By Luke Voogt
A team featuring Jan Juc local and former Australian junior champion Xavier Huxtable has won back-to-back titles at the 16th annual Bolt Blowers Invitational.
Reigning champions Team Dragon finished on a heat total of 39 points at Bells Beach on Sunday, followed closely by ‘Defending Champs’ on 35 points.
“We were stoked to arrive today and see how much swell was around,” said Team Dragon captain Tom Wright.
“This event raises awareness for such important issues. We are proud to be involved and help shine a light on mental health.”
Annike Krooglik won best female surfer for the event while Ean Droomer took out the honours for the men.
The Style Master Award went to long-time Bolt Blower Marty Hammer, while the Soul Award went to Fabi Aguilar.
The Bolt Blowers Invitational was rescheduled to the iconic location for the Easter long weekend to fill the void left by the cancellation of the Bells Beach Rip Curl Pro.
The World Surf League Championship Tour event, held at Bells Beach since 1961, was cancelled this year due to COVID-19 quarantine issues.
The Bolt Blowers Invitational instead featured 24 quirkily-named teams and more than 160 competitors from across Victoria surfing to raise funds for mental health.
The retro competition required all competitors to surf on pre-1983 boards, adding an extra challenge to the event.
“I was blown away by the event,” Surfing Victoria chief executive officer Adam Robertson said.
“All of us have had a friend or family member who has struggled with mental health at some point – to see the surf community come together like this is incredible to see.”
Funds raised from the event will be donated to Aboriginal mentoring organisation Strong Brother Strong Sister and mental health research charity One-In-Five.
The funds will help Aboriginal youths learn to surf and about water safety, and improve their health and wellbeing.
The money raised will also support medical research into mental health at a number of prestigious Victorian institutions.