The Localist

Surfing in Fluro for Mental Health

Walking by South Bondi (or “SOBO” as locals refer to it) early on a Friday morning you’d be forgiven for assuming the guys in sexy skintight banana and tiger onesies and girls in bright neon swimsuits paired with extravagantly bright hair accessories are still out partying from the night before. But no – what you’re seeing is the OneWave movement, which has been holding “Fluro Friday” at sunrise every Friday for the last two years.

Why, you ask? Well, there are some very good reasons…

It’s ok not to be ok

Around 100 people converge at 6.30am on Fridays in their fluro colours to listen to OneWave co-founders Grant Trebilco and Sam Schumacher, and OneWave’s Mental Health Manager Joel Pilgrim, remind us that it’s ok to not be ok sometimes, followed by a guest speaker who bravely shares their own, very personal, experience with mental illness. Then you can either do a yoga or surf session, or just socialise on the sand. The objective is to open up honest conversations and de-stigmatise mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar and anxiety. For this reason, OneWave refers to being in a “funk”, a more positive way to describe these kind of conditions.

A recent OneWave Facebook posts says:

“Shining a light on an issue that keeps getting left in the darkness. If you’re doing it tough right now, you’re not alone. We’ve got your back and we’re not going anywhere”.

One Wave is all it takes

The vision of OneWave is that sharing the “stoke” of the ocean is a positive vibe to start the day on. Surfing, doing yoga, jogging, swimming or socialising together every week helps develop a sense of community and encourages people to talk about what they’re experiencing, as well as empower people to support loved ones who are in a funk. It may seem simplistic, but I know from experience that it works. When I was in a terrible funk many years ago swimming was my saviour. Nowadays after a morning in the ocean I’m refreshed and ready to take on the day.

Upcoming events

OneWave’s two year birthday is coming up on 20 March and currently Fluro Friday happens in Sydney (Bondi, Manly, Wanda); Gold Coast (Snapper Rocks); South Sydney Coast (Tathra) and Newcastle (Merewether). They have also started Monday surf meetups in South Bondi at 6.30pm for those who are unable to get to the beach in the morning and there is a “Free the Funk Fest” in North Bondi on Saturday 28 February from 8am to midday – everyone is welcome.

Last week, on 20 February, we saw the launch of the “OneWave Surfing Experience” in Bondi – a 12 week learn to surf program for mental health clients in Sydney, together with local mental health organisation Partners In Recovery. “Seeing the pure joy on participants’ faces after surfing for the first time, put everything into perspective perfectly. Mental health is real, so let’s talk about it, and surf it out,” OneWave posted afterwards on Facebook.

Want to help your community free the funk?

Sadly, “funks” are more common than we realise. A survey by Australian mental health charity beyondblue has recently found that about a quarter of Aussies will experience an anxiety condition at some time in their lives, but 40% still think that anxiety is “just stress” rather than a treatable mental health illness.

When I was going through a rough patch many years ago I didn’t even know what was wrong with me. A couple of years (and a bunch of erratic decisions later!) I met someone who opened up about suffering depression long term and it all clicked. If only OneWave existed back then! While I’m not one to talk about my feelings it would have helped knowing that I could if I needed to.

So why not start your own Fluro Friday in your part of the world – make new friends and free the funk!

For further info, visit:




Images. All pictures by David Bryant @ DB Photography.


One Response to Surfing in Fluro for Mental Health


A river of time

A river of time


If you’re planning a trip to Sydney you’re probably looking forward to the sun and sea. Both are great fun, but what might not be as obvious ...

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