In 1985, as I was winding down after 8 consecutive years in the ASP Top 5, I established the Wayne Rabbit Bartholomew Academy of Surfing, the first in Queensland and most probably Australia, offering Learn to Surf, Intermediate and Elite coaching from the most experienced surfers on the Gold Coast.
As with everything I did in surfing, it was 10 years before it’s time. In fact, it was 2 years before Alan Atkins and Professor Brian Lowdon road tripped the first Surfing Australia Level 1 Coaching Accreditation Course up the East Coast of Australia. While all the local hot kids like Jay Phillips, Shane and Dean Bevan, Jason Buttenshaw and China O’Connor received elite coaching, they did not have 10 cents between them and there was no way parents were going to actually pay me $10, so I morphed it onto the Snapper Rocks Junior Development Program and the club won 13 consecutive Straddie Assaults (87-99). In 1992 I stepped up to National Coaching duties, where Australia won Gold in France, then from 93-98 I was the National Coaching Director, and in collaboration with Eddie Valladares, overhauled the Level 1 Coaching Accreditation and created and wrote the manual for the world’s only Level 2 Coaching.
From 1999 I had a 4 year tenure as CEO of the ASP, where I spearheaded and establishing the Dream Tour with its Best Surfers / Best Waves mission. 10 years as ASP President followed, were I presided over a dynamic era of growth through live streaming, while Kelly Slater and Andy Irons took the Dream Tour into the stratosphere.
I then returned to my coaching roots focussing on Dean Morrison, who I had raised as a grommet. Together we followed the World Tour and I coached Dingo as he secured consecutive Top 10 World rankings. A frustrating situation made me rethink my whole approach and future plans.
I’d essentially been following the WSL World Tour in some capacity for 30 years, and I wanted to re-establish the WRB Academy. However, even though I was a born and bred Gold Coast World Champion, I could not secure a Surf School License.
Now, by collaborating with Coastlines and The Surfboard Warehouse I have created Bugs Softboard, a specifically designed and cutting edge product that will connect surf schools Australia wide with the Godfather of Pro Surfing.