Surfers out for serious fun
By MITCHELL DALE
SAWTELL is gearing up for the sixth annual Barney Miller Classic this weekend.
No, not a weekend of re-runs of the retro cop show by the same name, but the surfing competition named after the Sawtell surfer.
The first Barney Miller Classic was staged in 1999 to help raise funds for Miller, who broke his neck in a car accident in April that year.
In the years since, Miller has taken over the organisation of the event and donates the proceeds to people with similar injuries to the ones he sustained.
This year the recipient will be Central Coast's Sean Macguigan, who broke his neck surfing in Samoa.
Miller selects the recipient each year.
"I just hear about someone and ring them up to ask if they we can sponsor them with the funds raised from the weekend," Miller said.
"They are usually pretty stoked."
There is actually a small connection between Miller and Macguigan.
"When I was surfing I used to compete against Sean's brother, Mark," he said.
"I read about what happened to him in a surfing magazine.
"He was at a surf school in Samoa and hit a reef and broke his neck."
More than other people involved with the event, Miller knows how touching it is to receive the donation.
"It is just awesome, indescribable," he said of the feeling when he was presented with a check at the inaugural event.
"I know how they will feel, which makes me feel pretty good too."
Miller said the weekend is not a serious event.
"It is a good weekend for everyone," he said. "There are heaps of prizes, but it is not serious.
"Everyone just has fun and hangs out, it is a big social weekend."
Macguigan will be in Sawtell throughout the weekend and will bring a number of professional surfers, including Adrian Buchan, Dean Collier and Drew Courtney, to bolster the event.
The event kicks off tomorrow and concludes Monday, with surfing staring at 7am.