A very dear friend of ours, Joe Sweeney, passed away last week.
Joe was in his mid thirties when we met him in the early 70’s at the Victorian State Surfing competitions held primarily at Bells beach. By this stage he had already represented Australia as an Olympic wrestler in 1956 and had trained at Mordialloc with The Coote Bros(Kevin ’56 and ’60 Olympics, George and Jeff extremely good watermen on the peninsula beaches), of course he is possibly more well known for being the surfer who paid 30 pound to hire a tractor which carved the first dirt track into Bells Beach.
He was a true surfing pioneer, a spirit of the sea and a very fine craftsman as is evidenced by his hand carved trophies presented at The Rip Curl Easter Bells Event for the past 30 years.
Following the Olympics Joe’s love of the ocean saw him based in Torquay with a beach shed at the point to become known as the Torquay Lifesaving Club.
Phil and I had the pleasure of his company when travelling interstate as a team to the Australian surfing titles where he made lifetime friendships with his story telling and great sense of humour.
Joe epitomized what every Aussie should strive to be – respected and loved by everyone he met.
Our Sympathies to Jeff, Kim and family