The Shaw and Partners Summer of Surf is proud to pay homage to one of the most influential surf lifesavers of all time with the creation of the Hayden Kenny Classic.

    The event will be held at Alexandra Headland across December 10 and 11 as the first round of this season’s record-breaking series, attracting hundreds of Australia’s fittest surf athletes to compete for more than $100,000.

    Ultimate waterman and ocean pioneer Hayden Kenny surfing Noosa in 1964

    “Hayden Kenny was the first ever Australian Ironman Champion and has paved the way for elite surf sports racing all around the country.” Summer of Surf General Manager Trent Goulding says.

    “It is such an honour for us to celebrate Hayden and his achievements by dedicating the first round to him.”

    The Kenny name is synonymous with Ironman racing in households all around the nation, a sport paved and pioneered by Hayden Kenny, father to Grant Kenny, and grandfather to Jett Kenny. For Hayden this journey began back in 1965 in California, where he would be introduced to the multi-disciplinary event of Ironman racing for this first time while representing Australia on a tour of the USA.

    Inspired by the event, Hayden and fellow competitors would soon see a modified version of Ironman racing included in the Australia Surf Life Saving Titles for the first time in 1966. This is where he would become the first ever National Ironman winner, in doing so giving birth to a sport that would later and continue to hold a special place in Australian history. This contribution, according to Grant Kenny, “is something that should not be understated or overlooked.”

    For Hayden, affectional known as Fossil, the event came as a huge surprise, stating “I never imagined anything like this.” 

    “When I was competing back in the 1960’s we just did it for the competition and love of the ocean. We surfed a lot, trained hard, and competed even harder but there was no money involved” Hayden says. “We all know the ocean can be an unforgiving environment and it can be a very uneven playing field, but it’s good for life skills and character building, and keeping egos in check.”

    “Of course, things have changed drastically over the years, and it’s now become quite a large and lucrative sport, thanks to the help of people like Summer of Surf and the backing from big sponsors like Shaw and Partners Financial Services”, continues Hayden.

    “It feels good know you were a part of something that’s become so big, and I only hope the current generation still shares the same passion for competition as we did all those years ago”, Hayden concludes.

    “As a family we are very grateful and humbled to have Dad honoured in this way and would like to thank Summer of Surf, Shaw and Partners Financial Services, Sunshine Coast Council and local supporter The Sports Hub for their significant investment in bringing this fantastic event to Alex, the birthplace of The Ironman”, says Grant Kenny, an Ironman legend in his own right. 

    “It is extremely appropriate that we have the chance to recognise the lifelong contributions that Dad has made to Surf Lifesaving, and to be given the opportunity to do that here, at Alexandra Headlands, where it all began, is an exciting and humbling prospect”. Grant continues, “Given Dad’s history in Lifesaving, I think it’s safe to say he is the grand-father of Ironman Racing in Australia, the “Original Ironman.”

    Grant and Hayden Kenny celebrating one of Grants many race wins.

    For grandson Jett, “Being a third generation Kenny in this sport is something truly incredible”. Hayden’s accomplishments, drive and initiative over his lifetime have not only inspired Jett but encouraged him to one day “help bring the sport back to its prime as it was in Dad and Granddad’s day, showcasing some of the worlds most talented athletes in their own field in an environment that holds no mercy to those who enter it.”

    “I think it’s pretty special for Grandad to get this form of recognition and I’m super excited to be able to put my foot on the line and compete in an event honouring my family name”, Jett continues.

    Jett Kenny racing in the modern era.

    The Shaw and Partners Summer of Surf is ecstatic to be able to partner with Alexandra Headland to host the Hayden Kenny Classic. 

    Not only is it the club where Hayden Kenny, and later son Grant, would carve their name as icons of the ocean, but the club is also a longtime supporter of Summer of Surf events held around the country.

    “I’m delighted and also grateful to be joining our fantastic partners in presenting what will be an exciting two days of racing.” Alexandra Headland CEO Ashley Robinson says.

    “But just as importantly, I am proud to celebrate Hayden Kenny – not only a pioneer of surf lifesaving, but also board riding and manufacturing of all things surf craft.

    “The Hayden Kenny Classic will celebrate not only what a true waterman Hayden is, but also the impact his career and his family’s’ has had on surf sports.”

    Sunshine Coast Council events portfolio holder Councillor Jason O’Pray said Summer of Surf was another example of council supporting top-class entertainment and events in our region.

    “The Sunshine Coast is delighted to be hosting the Shaw and Partners Hayden Kenny Classic at Alexandra Headland in what will be a great celebration of surf sport and pay homage to one of Australia’s greatest life savers and proud Sunshine Coast native, Hayden Kenny. 

    “We trust that all of the athletes and spectators will have an incredible stay on the Sunshine Coast.”

    With the announcement that Alexandra Headland will host the opening round of the Shaw and Partners Summer of Surf, the venues of all three rounds are now locked in.

    Athletes will compete for a record-breaking $350,000, courtesy of the support of Shaw and Partners Financial Services.

    “We cannot wait for the season to start with the Shaw and Partners Hayden Kenny Classic.” It is Shaw and Partners Financial Services’ honour to be associated with such an Australian ocean icon, Shaw and Partners co-CEO Earl Evans says.

    “Australia’s fittest surf athletes competing in the sport’s richest series – it’s going to be a Summer of Surf like nothing we’ve seen before.”

    Summer of Surf is also excited to announce The Sports Hub as a major sponsor of the Hayden Kenny Classic.

    The not-for-profit organisation provides world-class physical and mental support to the Sunshine Coast community and is passionate in collaborating and supporting like-minded businesses and events, reinforces its commitment to improving the health of all.

    “As co-founder of the Sports Hub, I am extremely passionate about health and wellbeing along with the Sunshine Coast community, so it is our great pleasure to align ourselves with the Shawn and Partners Hayden Kenny Classic”, says Co-founder, Clayton Williams. 

    “Surf lifesaving is not just an integral part of the Sports Hub, but more widely a significant part of the Sunshine Coast community, and I hope that everyone has a great time competing at the Hayden Kenny Classic at one of our favourite beaches

    Entries for the Shaw and Partners Hayden Kenny Classic will open on Friday October 29.

    For more information on this year’s series, and a breakdown of our richest prize pool to date, head to:

    Summer of Surf would like to thank its partners for the 2021-22 series: 

    Shaw and Partners Financial Services, The Sports Hub, We Are Feel Good Inc, BMD Northcliffe Surf Club, Alexandra Headland Surf Club, North Bondi Surf Club, Sunshine Coast Council, Major Events Gold Coast, Waverly Council, FINIS and Jolyn Swimwear.