THOUSANDS of surf life savers flocked to Kurrawa Beach this morning to pay tribute to "Matty" Barclay, who died while competing in a surf life saving carnival this week.

The 14 year old Maroochydore club member was competing in a under-15s board race at the Australian Surf Life Saving titles on Wednesday when he was knocked off his board.

His body was found the following morning, about 1.5km from where he entered the water.

Matt's father, Stephen, gave a moving tribute at this morning's memorial and described how grateful he was to have seen his son one last time after his body was found.

"I can tell you he looked just as perfect (as he always was)," he said.

"He was still wearing his Maroochy cap..."

In a moving eulogy,  Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club life member and Surf Life Saving Queensland president Ralph Devlin described Matty as a beautiful boy who would forever be in people's hearts.

"Our only comfort is that he remains with us forever as a beautiful young man," he said.

"He was a quiet, unassuming champion in the making.

"The bigger the surf the more he loved it."

After a series of emotional speeches, Maroochydore club members walked through the huge crowd, many hugging one another, and down to the shore line to watch their club's paddle boat head out into the surf.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter hovered above the surf boat as its members laid wreaths in the ocean for Matt.

The Barclay family was inundated with flowers and comfort from fellow life savers.

The Australian Titles event will continue today, in accordance with the Barclay family's wishes, but at its new location of North Kirra.



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