Simon and Curtis bag double victories at Surfest’s Indigenous Classic 

Sunday, March 19, 2023 

Rainbow Bay’s Taj Simon and Lennox Head’s Ocea Curtis have each taken double honours at the 2023 Surfest Indigenous Classic by wrapping up four of the five competitions at Surfest’s Indigenous Classic. 

Nineteen-year-old Simon won both the Open Men’s and Junior Boy’s divisions. Little more than a point separated him from Forster’s Landen Smales in the Open Men’s final. 

Curtis was crowned champion in both the Open Women’s and Junior Girl’s divisions. The 14-year-old natural-footer continued finding form at Merewether beach – she finished third here last October in the U/16 girls division of the Grom Search National Qualifier. 

Scott Winch from Thirroul won the Masters’ division.  

Surfest has been hosting an Indigenous surfing competition as part of its surfing festival for two decades. And the Simon family – who made the move to the Gold Coast from Woollongong just over a year ago – have been making the trip to Newcastle for the past ten years.  

This year, Taj ‘s father Mark surfed in the Master’s event. His daughter Summer Simon, 21, is a two-time women’s champion at Surfest’s Indigenous competition, and competed in the Open Women’s. Her sister Bodhi, 16, came fourth in the 2023 Open Women’s and was runner-up in the Junior Girl’s.  

The Simons were one of many families participating or supporting the 36 competitors who travelled to Newcastle for the two-day contest, which is as much about community as it is about surfing. 

For Mark Simon, it’s also a chance to see friends and family in Newcastle, where he was a regular visitor during his childhood. 

“It’s a bit of a gathering, and it’s good to catch up with everyone, and the bonus is the surfing event that goes along with it,” he said. 

“It’s the first one in the calendar year and you haven’t seen everyone for a while, so it’s always good to catch up this early in the year. 

Local indigenous businesses Asquith Workforce, Koiop Connect, Peibri Place and Speaking in Colour combined to support the 2023 event. 

Uncle Kevin McKenny welcomed everyone through an acknowledgement of country. 

Jackie Allen sung the national anthem in Awakabal language. A smoking ceremony, dancers from four local schools and a performance by local didgeridoo players cemented the welcome to competitors and viewers. 

All trophies provided were handmade by local artist Alex Nean and were painted by Callaghan College students. 


1. Taj Simon (Rainbow Bay, QLD):13.90 
2. Landen Smales (Forster, NSW):12.77 
3. Jed McDougal (Forster, NSW):5.80 
4. Scott Winch (Thirroul, NSW):0.00 

1. Ocea Curtis (Lennox Head, NSW):12.83 
2. Jasmine McCorquodale (Bateau Bay, NSW):9.70 
3. Kauri Heuston-Connor (Reedy Creek, QLD):8.24 
4. Bodhi Simon (Rainbow Bay, QLD):6.23 

Junior Boys 
1. Taj Simon (Rainbow Bay, NSW):17.83 
2. Landen Smales(Noosa Heads, QLD):13.33 
3. Zane Silvester (Tugun, QLD):8.53 
4. Jed Mcdonagh (Forster, NSW):6.83 

Junior Girls 
1. Ocea Curtis (Lennox Head, NSW):14.83 
2. Bodhi Simon (Rainbow Bay, QLD):6.83 
3. Kauri Heuston-Connor (Reedy Creek, QLD):5.47 
4. Jasmine McCorquodale (Bateau Bay, NSW):4.33 

1. Scott Winch (Thirroul, NSW):13.60 
2. Robbie Page (Crescent Head, NSW): 7.23 
3. Donny James (North Shore, QLD): 6.06 
4. Brook Silvester (Tugun, QLD):5.70