Finalists, Picture – James Robinson / Surfing NSW 

Surfing NSW appoints Lucas Townsend CEO

Published on 23/01/2024

The Board of Surfing NSW has appointed Lucas Townsend, former Marketing, Communications and Sales Director for the Wisemans Surf Lodge – as its new CEO.

Mr Townsend played a pivotal role at Wisemans Surf Lodge in securing over $118 million in capital for its development. His responsibilities encompassed leading commercial, communication and brand strategy, managing work streams with executive leaders across Australia and the US, reporting to the CEO and Board.

His tenure was marked by a distinctive blend of commercial acumen and a deep understanding of the core surfing ethos, effectively bridging the sport with broader business landscapes and non-endemic markets. 

Since November, he has been working with Surfing NSW, supporting its Partnership and Commercial function. 

Surfing NSW Chairman John O’Neill said the Board had been very impressed with Mr Townsend’s commercial savvy, strong relationship management skills, and understanding and involvement in surfing at a grassroots level.

“We’re delighted to have Lucas on board as we head into 2024, a year in which our athletes will compete for only the second time in an Olympic Games,” Mr O’Neill said. 

“Closer to home, it is also a year in which we will celebrate the opening of URBNSURF, an artificial wave pool, at Sydney Olympic Park, taking our sport and its lifestyle to a whole new demographic.”

Mr Townsend thanked the Board for inviting him to lead such a great team of people at a unique time for surfing. “I am thrilled to be stepping into the role of CEO of Surfing NSW with such a passionate crew at HQ.”

“The opportunity to lead a dynamic and growing sport in our state, where participation is soaring, surf parks are opening, our programs are reaching thousands across communities, and there’s pathways to World Titles or Olympic Gold – it’s a very unique time for surfing,” he said.

“As our communities grow, from surf schools and boardriders clubs, to enthusiasts or elite athletes, we have an increasingly important role in supporting the needs of surfers in NSW, while also celebrating the special culture that sets surfing apart from other sports.” 

“I’m also looking forward to building on our existing relationships with many trusted partners and government agencies with technology, data and insights to realise new opportunities through their association with surfing.”

This ability to navigate and blend different realms will be invaluable as he leads Surfing NSW into new and exciting territories.

Prior to his role at the Wisemans Surf Lodge (impacted by the recent rapid escalation in building costs), Mr Townsend worked as the Partnerships and Engagement Manager for Canon Australia and, earlier, was Business Development and Content Manager for NSW world tour surfer and Olympian, Sally Fitzgibbons’ brand and event business. 

A communications graduate from Macquarie University, he has also worked as an editor and content producer at both Stab Magazine and Surfing World and covered local government and features as a journalist working for News Corporation. 

He is a former President and current member of Freshwater Boardriders Club and assumed the role effective from Monday, January 8, 2024.

About SNSW: 

Established in 1963, Surfing NSW is the leading non-profit organisation dedicated to progressing the sport of surfing in Australia’s largest surfing state. Partnered with 11 Regional Associations, we orchestrate a range of events from grassroots to global competitions, fostering a diverse and thriving surfing community. With over 125 affiliated boardrider clubs and 60 licensed surf schools spanning the state, Surfing NSW provides inclusive opportunities for surfers at every skill level.

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