‘Suddenly his old fella dropped out of his bathers’
FOR the past 40 years, Phil McGibbon has stood on the shores of beaches all around Australia and the world doing what he loves.
The surf carnival announcer and commentator is currently at work at Kurrawa, bringing in his 40th year of commentating at the Aussies.
McGibbon has been a surf lifesaver since 1963 and even has his collection of caps on display at the Australian national museum in Melbourne.
"I've got more memories than I can poke a stick at," said McGibbon who has also called the past eight surf lifesaving world championships as well as the recent Queensland and New South Wales state carnivals.
Though one memory stands out above the rest.
The year was 1982 and the Gold Coast was playing host to a national surf lifesaving carnival that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, had flown out to attend.
"Now females always complain about wedgies," McGibbon said.
"It was during the beach relay and one of the blokes had just passed the baton to the final runner in his team.
"He was sprinting for home when suddenly his old fella dropped out of his bathers.
"He was trying to put it back in as he was running so he had the baton in one hand and something else in the other.
"Everyone on the beach couldn't stop laughing, not even Prince Philip.
"Nobody remembers who actually won the race but anyway, girls complain about wedgies but they have nothing to worry about."
McGibbon was even there to call the moment when retiring Gold Coast great Shannon Eckstein made one of the few errors of his glistening career.
"Mr Perfection made a mistake," he said.
"There's nine buoys out there in the ironman that they swim around and during one of the races, many years ago, he turned (for the beach) after the seventh buoy.
"His coach back on the beach was screaming "what are you doing!"
McGibbon has had the honour of calling some of surf lifesaving's greats but now four decades on, he has begun to bear witness to the next generations.
"During my first year as a commentator at the Australian championships in 1980 was the year that Grant Kenny won the junior and open ironman," he said.
"Now all these years later, I'm calling his son and I'm still calling Grant in master as well.
"I've called competitors and now I'm calling their sons or daughters and even grandchildren."
While some commentators prefer the comfort of a commentary booth, McGibbon is happy with his place on the shoreline, calling photo finishes only metres from where he stands.
"I love that you're right there in among the action the whole time," he said.
"I've got the best seat in the house.
"I'd rather be on the beach because you're right here and get to mix with the athletes and talk to people."
When asked what keeps bringing him back to the beach year after year, McGibbon needed just four words to answer.
"I love the sport," he said.
"As my former business partners would say to me, it keeps you sane.
"You're mixing with people from all ages, 70 and overs all the way down to youth."