A crowd of more than 200 turned out at Brighton Beach this morning at an emotional public memorial for shark attack victim Ben Linden which culminated with up to 100 surfers paddling out together into the surf.
Friends and fellow surfers gathered to hear a string of poignant speeches by people including the 24-year-old surfer’s girlfriend Alana Noakes and his godfather and Anglican priest John Hewitson.
Ms Noakes read to the crowd as sister Kelli blew a conch shell and read a poem, while a bagpipe player blew a rendition of Waltzing Matilda.
She described Mr Linden as her “rock” and the love of her life. She said she felt honoured to have known him and to have been loved by him.
She emphasised Mr Linden’s passion for surfing and the ocean.
“He loved Mother Nature in all her glory and is now in her arms eternally,” Ms Noakes told the crowd.
“Let’s go into the ocean together to celebrate Ben and his life”.
She then walked into the shallow waters and scattered petals into the ocean as a group of about 40 of Mr Linden’s closest friends got onto their surfboards and paddled out past the breaking waves.
They formed a circle in the sea and let out several loud cheers. A further group of about 60 surfers then joined them, prompting further celebrations.
Cabinet-maker Mr Linden was a singer and bassist in Perth band Fools Rush In, which featured on radio triple J’s national unearthed segment.
Mr Linden died when he was mauled by a great white south of Wedge Island earlier this month while surfing with a mate.
Witnesses said the shark was more than 4m long.