The NSW Surfmasters Titles will kick off at Boomerang Beach tomorrow, but not everyone in Pacific Palms is happy about it.
A number of community members have called for the event to be cancelled following the rise in COVID-19 cases across the State and the risk a large influx of competitors and event staff could bring to the small beachside community.
Local surfer and business owner, Kirk Owers, has been leading the call for the event's cancellation and believes the community should decide the risks it is subjected to in these uncertain times.
He says an outbreak of COVID-19 could be potentially devastating to the Great Lakes, given its large proportion of elderly residents and the lack of medical facilities in the area.
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Mr Owers took his concerns to local MP, Stephen Bromhead, and the organising body behind the event, Surfing NSW, but was disappointed with the responses he got from both parties.
"I spoke to two of their senior staff (Surfing NSW) at length and made it clear the community is against having the event this year - not just the surfers but residents and many local businesses," he said.
"We're in highly unusual times and I feel the Palms' community should be able to decide how risk-adverse it wants to be and not Surfing NSW."
Joining Mr Owers in his calls for the event to be cancelled is long-time local business owner, Ken Reynolds, of Boomerang Beach Surf Co.
He says he has no doubt Surfing NSW will be doing everything it can to minimise the risks associated with the virus but believes the problem lies in controlling the actions of individuals.
"I'm not putting any of this on Surfing NSW - they're trying to do the right thing," Mr Reynolds said.
"But it's not a perfect world out there and people do what they want."
Mr Reynolds believes Surfing NSW's decision to push ahead with the contest will hurt the organisation's standing in the community going forward.
"There's a real feeling of angst out there about this comp coming to town," he said.
We've got a very strict event plan, every competitor's temperature will be taken, and we're taking it very seriously.Ethan Smith
Surfing NSW media, communications and operations manager, Ethan Smith, says the organisation has been taken aback by the opposition it's encountered given the positive relationship it has enjoyed with the local surf community, particularly Boomerang Beach Boardriders.
He said Surfing NSW understood the concerns some members of the community had but stressed that the event would be adhering to the strict guidelines that had been imposed on it.
"We're governed by the public health order and the law as far as COVID goes, and we're abiding by it," Mr Smith said.
"We've got a very strict event plan, every competitor's temperature will be taken, and we're taking it very seriously."
Originally expected to bring 150 competitors to town in addition to staff and spectators, Mr Smith said the contest had recorded less entries than predicted and estimated that around 60 to 70 competitors would be on the beach over an eight-hour day.
He believed this posed less of a risk than most weekend football games.
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Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead, said he was in support of the event despite the numerous emails he had received from community members objecting to it.
"If they comply with the COVID orders and the health orders then there's no reason why it should not proceed," he said.
Mr Bromhead believed police would also be present at the event.
Boomerang Beach Boardriders president, Adam Salt, declined to comment on the issue.
The event will run at Boomerang Beach from Thursday, July 30 to Sunday, August 2.
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