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Former pro takes out title

Heating up: Scott Schindler heads back to dry land on Sawtell Beach after winning his over-28 mens heat at the Barney Miller Surf Classic.
Heating up: Scott Schindler heads back to dry land on Sawtell Beach after winning his over-28 mens heat at the Barney Miller Surf Classic. Leigh Jensen

WHEN Barney Miller heads back to the United States today he’ll leave happy, knowing the surf classic which bears his name was another screaming success.

Miller will spend six weeks stateside for disability treatment at Project Walk after almost 100 surfers braved the sloppy water at Sawtell on Saturday before backing up in perfect conditions on day two.

“The waves, weather on the final day and the total vibe was awesome,” he said.

“We probably won’t get to the $20,000 we raised last year because of the conditions but it was still heaps fun.”

With fundraising functions and social events held right across the weekend, the main action and point of the exercise continued on the shores of the Pacific Ocean.

The classic has become an important part of the surfing calendar and attracts a mix of high quality and social competitors.

Former professional surfer Jye Gofton, based near the beach at Scotts Head, won the main Open men’s competition.

He edged out Oscar Scanes, of Old Bar, who also won the under-18 boys division, Yamba surfer Matt Jones and another Scotts Head entrant, Mitch O’Grady.

“One of the biggest buzzes came when Phoenix Graham won the under-16 boys division for the fourth year in a row,” Miller said.

“Another bloke defending his title was Matt Griggs, of Cronulla, in the over-28 mens while our local ‘boy’ Mark Williams was successful in the over-40 mens.”

When the girls hit the water, the biggest accolades were handed out to Sawtell’s Eve Edwards, who picked up $500 for her dual victories in the Open women and under-18 girls divisions.

“Eve is a really great surfer but she only seems to come out for this competition,” Miller announced.

“I hope she decides to enter a few more things because I reckon she might be really successful.”

Gold Coast visitor Emma Riordan-Smith finished runner-up to Edwards with Emily Walder third and Kelly Ward rounding out the top four.

On Friday night, Walder also took out the Miss Barney Miller swimsuit competition at Sawtell Hotel.

Benefiting from this year’s event will be young Coffs Harbour local Duncan Sawyer who became a quadriplegic after falling from his bike last February.

“I hope to steer Duncan in the right direction and have encouraged him to go to America and do the Project Walk program,” Miller said.

“There is nowhere like it in the world and in order for him to do this, we must raise as much money as we can to let him experience how beneficial this place is on his road to walking again.”

Miller recommends everybody check out the website at www.projectwalk.org and discover their great work.

“On behalf of everybody involved with the classic I’d like to thank everybody who made the effort to be involved,” he said.

“We had a great time ... we always have a great time.”