HALL OF FAME
The Australian Surfing Awards incorporating the Hall of Fame were first convened in 1985 by the Australian Surfriders Association (now Surfing Australia) to preserve the history of Australian surfing and honour its great achievers.
1985 – SNOW MCALLISTER (dec)
Charles Justin “Snow” McAllister is the “father of Australian Surfing” who nurtured the sport for over 70 years. Snow saw it all… changing surfboard riding styles, progressive board shapes, the birth and development of competitive surfing and the growth of surfing from fad to mainstream support.
In 1915, Snow witnessed the legendary Duke Kahanamoku’s display of surfriding at Sydney’s Freshwater Creek. Inspired by the Hawaiian’s grace and style on the board, the young Sydneysider threw himself headlong into the sport of surfing.
He soon developed a strong affiliation with the ocean, and joined the Manly R&R Team in 1920 which won titles in 1924, 1925 and 1926. He also became a member of the Freshwater Lifesaving Club a year later.
During this time Snow also participated in surfboard riding exhibitions at the Newcastle Surf Carnival up until 1936. His payment of these exhibitions was a gift voucher worth 10 shillings and sixpence, the equivalent of three weeks wages.
In 1924 Snow built his own hollow timber surfboard, 12 feet long, 2 wide and 3 inches thick with a solid nose, for a cost of 2 pounds. With great enthusiasm he embarked on a career as a competitive boardrider, holding the National Surfboard Riding Champion title for four consecutive years beginning in the late 1920s.
With the sudden popularity of the sport along Australia’s eastern beaches it soon became apparent that more scope was required for competition. With this in mind Snow began to erect signs on the beaches around Manly advertising surfboard rallies. These rallies were nomadic, relying on available swell and attracted a small crowd of 12 to 15 eager competitors. The meetings marked the beginning of the surfing competition structure in Australia, a structure which has produced more World Champions than any other country.
In 1963 Snow became a founding member of the Australian Surfriders Association, an organisation that today is the recognised governing body of surfing in this country. Snow was known for his active interest in our young surfers and was a visitor to most surfing events in Sydney. It was Snow who’d often accompany budding professionals to the airport to see them off overseas on the World Tour.
He was also a founder of the Australian Surfski Association and was an avid surfski rider in his later years.
Throughout his life, Snow McAllister was an ambassador for surfing, admired and respected for his devotion to the sport that captured his heart as a child. His contribution to surfing will never be forgotten.
1985 – MARK RICHARDS
Mark Richards dominated professional surfing from 1979 to 1982, winning four consecutive World Titles. He was the consummate performer, who clean-cut and professional attitude brought competitive surfing a step closer to being accepted as a major sport.
Mark Richards was an individual, a personal quality which made him stand out from the pack following the World Tour during the late 1970s and which eventually made him World Champion. This strength can be traced back to his early surfing years at the famous Merewether Beach. Ray Richards, Mark’s father, owned one of the first surf shops, an environment inspirational in nurturing Mark’s love for surfing.
Ray showed foresight and had enormous enthusiasm for Marks decision to become a professional surfer, a career path which offered minimal prize money and no definite future. His conviction gave Mark the strength to branch outside the norm of surfing, both in style and surfboard design.
MR adopted a unique surfing style. A Tracks surfing magazine editor likened it to a “wounded seagull”, arms outstretched, wrists cocked upwards and knees bent inwards.
There was a great deal of discussion about MR’s “awkward” style hindering his chances of becoming a successful competitive surfer, that his technique made his manoeuvres seem a little ungainly. MR was unaffected by the criticism, and continued to develop his unique style. Today, many regard MR as one of the most graceful surfers of all time.
MR’s ability to surf well in any conditions can be attributed to the surfboards he rode. He introduced a new vitality to the tour by surfing twin fins. MR recognised the speed generation qualities of these surfboards in small waves. By radically modifying the bottom and the tails of the twin fin boards he was able to surf them in diverse conditions from crumbly 1 metre waves to powerful 4 metre waves.
And he did it with flair. MR’s Superman-type logo that plastered his surfboards became symbolic of the new age of professionalism that etched its way into competitive surfing during the late 70s. MR saw the value of promotion whether it be for himself through his MR logo, or for his sponsors. His business-like approach to competition was instrumental in the early development of professional surfing.
In the words of one of Australia’s great surfing media personalities, Nick Carroll: “Without MR, pro surfing in Australia would be almost nowhere. Aside from all else, he’s been surfing’s No.1 media performer… no one else has done more than MR to present surfings bright new future to a hitherto unenlightened public. He’s paved the way for surfing’s new up market media profile.”
1986 – BERNARD “MIDGET” FARRELLY (dec)
Midget Farrelly was a true surfing pioneer in every sense of the word. His competitive history shows he was virtually unbeaten through the decade of the 1960s, a feat placing him amongst the foremost competitors in the history of surfing.
Midget was the ultimate style master in surfing. He possessed an elegance and positioning superior to other surfers of his time. He was Australia’s “Golden Boy”, the first real surfing superstar, who typified the surfing pop culture of the early 1960s. Midget appeared in newspaper advertisements, was broadcast over radio and even had his own television show.
Midget put Australian surfing on the map when he won the Makaha Invitational in Hawaii in 1962-63. The event was initiated as a return engagement after the 1956 Australian Olympic Tour of the USA and Hawaiian teams and was classed as a World Championship event.
Midget’s win was a major upset especially in Hawaii. Surfing was a Hawaiian tradition and Hawaiians were considered to be the best surfers in the world. Midget’s victory was inspirational to other Australian surfers because it displayed that the standard of Australian surfing was one of the best in the world.
Midget’s competitive career continued to blossom and in May of 1964 he became the first official World Champion by winning the World Surfing Titles at Manly. After 1966, Midget competed selectively on a domestic level, directing most of his energies into national and world title events. It was during this period that Midget felt at odds with the direction of Australian surfing. He felt that the surfing media promoted false heroes and the drug culture that popularised surfing at that time. Midget was prepared to voice his opinions about the false direction and was shunted out of the spotlight as a result.
Midget’s international competitive results were impeccable. He had the greatest competitive record of any surfer in the world throughout the 1960s and was Australian Champion for 1964 and 1965. Midget was a driving force in surfboard design during the 1960s and early 1970s and he used the World Titles as the testing ground for his progressive designs.
1986 – ROBERT “NAT” YOUNG
Robert “Nat” Young is widely regarded as the pioneer of the “new era” of the powerful and aggressive surfing style initiated during the mid 1960s.
Nicknamed “The Animal” because of his vigorous assault on the waves, Nat Young dominated competitive surfing during the late 60s. He won three NSW Open titles, one NSW Junior Title, the Australian Open Titles and was second (losing by just half a point) at the 1965 Peru World Titles. In 1966 he became Australia’s second World Champion at the San Diego World Titles.
Nat was at the forefront of surfboard design during this period. Working with his close friend Bob McTavish, surfboard lengths were reduced dramatically. The typical 10 or 11 foot Malibu was cut by several feet as Nat searched for greater manoeuvrability using the entire wave face.
At just 16, Nat won a National event at Bondi in 1963. The prize was a first class airfare to Hawaii here he later surfed Pipeline, Sunset and most of the other big wave locations. Like many great surfers throughout the sport’s history, Nat became a highly skilled shaper, creating and innovating design to accommodate his own progressive style.
Nat recalls the high point of his surfing around the early 1970s when he lived and experienced perfect waves along the Northern NSW coastline. During this time he featured in surfing’s acclaimed movie Morning of the Earth.
“It was when I first moved to the Byron Bay area, surfing really good quality Lennox and all the associated spots right up to the Gold Coast without too many people and on boards that were very advanced. I think Morning of the Earth shows that best. Still when I look back I think the surfing is totally contemporary.
I’m still very proud of that surfing.”
1987 – BOB EVANS (dec)
Bob Evans was one of Australian surfing’s greatest spokesmen. In his magazine, movies and radio broadcasts, he communicated eloquently and honestly the joy of surfing and all its secrets and peculiarities.
Bob possessed an incredible love for the ocean and the closest he could get to its energy was by riding a surfboard. In 1943, Bob joined the Queenslcliff SLSC and obtained his first board in the following year. His obsession with surfing soon introduced him to competition and he entered club and State contests until 1952.
During the late 50s, surf movies began to emerge in the United States. Evans saw an opportunity to bring these movies and promote them in Australia and worked with American director Bud Browne to carry out his plan. The concept proved to be a huge success with some 600 people packing the Queenscliff Surf Club to see Browne’s two movies “Hawaiian Surf” and “The Big Surf”.
Evans was astounded by the movies’ popularity. He got together with close friend and respected surfboard shaper, Joe Larkin and with a couple of rolls of film and began shooting his first documentary. The first Evans feature, “Midget Goes Hawaiian”, was produced in 1961 and 1962. It was a rough and ready account of a new and exciting move in Australian surfing – the pilgrimage to the Hawaiian islands. While it wasnt recognised as an award winning production, it put Australian surfing on the map. He went on to make 14 movies in all.
In 1964 Evans again blazed a trail and established Surfing World, Australia’s first surfing magazine. Essentially it was a one-man effort that gave many photographers a chance to express their talents. Surfing today has developed its own million dollar media industry, of which Surfing World still has a stake.
Bob was a totally selfless man whose exploits were driven more by a love of surfing than a desire for material gain.
1987 – WAYNE “RABBIT” BARTHOLOMEW
Queensland’s Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew is one of Australia’s great surfing personalities. He was a driving force in professional surfing during the late 1970s and early 1980s and dominated Queensland competition for much of the 1970s. Rabbit has invested an incredible amount of time and energy into the promotion and development of surfing in Australia. His dedication to the sport remains an inspiration to many.
Rabbit’s competitive story dates back to 1968 when he won a cadet division at the infamous Kirra pointbreak. It was the beginning of a distinguished career as a Queensland Schoolboy Champion and later as a Queensland Open Champion. His success and promise as a surfer was keenly followed by the local media who promoted him as a local hero.
In 1977, Wayne turned full-time professional and finished second behind South African Shaun Tomson in his rookie year. In the next year, Rabbit achieved what every professional aspires – the World Title.
Rabbit competed on the Tour until 1987, ranking in the top 5 for seven consecutive years. During this time he was considered one of the “Big Three”, which also included Shaun Tomson and Mark Richards who were all instrumental in establishing professional surfing worldwide.
Wayne’s distinguished career has laden him with surfing accolades. He has been named Gold Coast Sportsman of the Year three times, was the Australian Professional Champion in 1978 and APSA Surfer of the Year in 1987.
Rabbit has been instrumental in the development of Queensland surfing and is the patron of Queensland School Surfing and the Queensland Branch of the Australian Surfriders Association. At a national level, Wayne holds the position of National Coaching Director for the Australian Surfriders Association, acting as the spearhead of Australian surfing development.
Wayne became involved with environmental issues after leaving the Tour in 1987. He founded GASP (Groups Against Sewerage Pollution) and KEPT (Kirra Environmental Protection Trust) in an attempt to curb the growing abuse of the Queensland coastline.
Surfing runs through the veins of Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew. He’s the surfer’s surfer who has used his popularity for the betterment of the sport through coaching and team management, as environmental leader and as surfing ambassador. It’s because of the efforts of individuals such as Wayne Bartholomew that Australia remains one of the great surfing nations.
1988 – WAYNE LYNCH
In the late 1960s the spotlight of competitive surfing turned with great intensity on a talented young boy from Victoria. He was the most exciting surfing prospect in years, astounding many with a level of performance that had never been seen before. But in the midst of his success and popularity, the young star turned his back and walked away. Wayne Lynch was 17 years old and he had had enough.
As a goofy footer, Wayne was frustrated by the limitations of backside surfing. He began to experiment with backhand bottom-turns and played with the natural tendency for the board to drive further up the wave face. He started riding smaller boards, becoming increasingly aware of just what could be achieved. Lynch developed a style of surfing that utilised the entire wave and a finesse that enabled him to complete these radical manoeuvres in the most critical places. His ability to read the moods of the wave and flow with its power soon earned him the nickname “The Fish”.
Armed with his battery of skills, Lynch became an invincible competitor and went onto hold the Australian Junior Title from 1967 to 1970. With success came opportunity and at the tender age of 15, famous surf movie producer Paul Witzig invited Wayne, Nat Young and Ted Spencer on an exotic surf journey to capture footage for the production of “Evolution”. It was an opportunity of a lifetime – experiencing primitive cultures in distant lands and riding perfect uncrowded waves with two of surfings greats.
The distribution of the movie matched with Wayne’s Australian competitive success incited an explosion in popularity, thrusting him into the public eye. Lynch was suddenly given superstar status and was heralded as the worlds best surfer, destined to hold the world Title.
Haunted by the sudden attention and expectation, Wayne Lynch withdrew from the competition scene, a decision which sent shockwaves throughout the surfing world. The Lynch enigma was born as people tried to explain why such a talented athlete alienated himself from the surfing scene.
Then in 1975, Wayne won the Coke Classic at Narrabeen, the richest event on the Pro Tour. The victory proved that he was still one of the best surfers of all time, despite his intention not to compete. In 1978, he burst forward again to place in the Coke Classic, just losing to an amazing barrel by Larry Blair.
Wayne lead the ideal existence for a surfer/shaper, and in 1978 Jack McCoy and Dick Hoole produced “A Day in the Life of Wayne Lynch” to reveal to the surfing world just how unique it was.
In addition to his surfing and shaping, Wayne developed a consuming passion for indigenous culture. He felt that surfing, with its cycles, its tides and the art of intuitive movement, had a lot to do with indigenous culture and undertook trips to Arnhem Land to delve deeper into the Aboriginal way of life.
Wayne Lynch leads a simple life, and admits that he’s at odds with certain attitudes of western societies. He remains Victoria’s greatest surfing legend, the man who ushered in a new era of performance, who was proclaimed as the best surfer in the world. Wayne became an enigma because he avoided the public eye to maintain a lifestyle that he had grown to love as a youth. A lifestyle that kept him in contact with the land, the ocean and himself.
1989 – SIMON ANDERSON
Sydney’s North Narrabeen has an amazing list of surfing champions accredited to its history. Simon Anderson is one of these champions.
During Simon’s early years he was always surfing amongst established world class surfers such as Terry Fitzgerald, Col Smith, and Tony Hardwick along with several of his own peer group, which included Mark Warren and Grant Oliver.
Together they pushed each other and all represented Australia at the San Diego World Titles in 1972. As a junior, Simon had already won the NSW and Australian Junior titles in 1971 and 1972.
During this time Simon was working for the highly successful Shane Surfboards. He began fixing dings and soon progressed to shaping, learning the skills from renowned craftsmen Terry Fitzgerald and Frank Latta.
It was a flexible lifestyle that allowed Simon plenty of time to surf. His competitive success created much interest in his surfboard designs which he was continually refining to suit his smooth, powerful style.
In 1977 he made a spectacular entrance into professional surfing by winning the Bells Trials, the main Bells Easter Championships and the Coke Classic at Narrabeen all in the one month. Because of his aggressive style and sheer physical size, Simon earned a reputation as a big-wave specialist. Simon was also extremely adept in smaller waves, especially surfing his backhand where he defined new performance limits.
In 1981 Simon repeated the unique Grand Slam double by again winning the Easter Bells and Coke Classic. These victories revolutionised surfing as he revealed the new three-fin thruster.
Simon was discontent with the twin fin that had been popularised by Mark Richards and began to experiment with surfboard design. By adding an extra fin and changing the size and placement of the fins he created a board with enhanced manoeuvrability and speed without sacrificing its ability to grip the wave face. The 1981 Bells and Coke Classic events have become famous for their quality waves and Simon’s amazingly diverse performance where he rode his new boards to victory in large 4m waves at Bells and perfect 2m waves at North Narrabeen.
By the mid 1980s almost every surfboard manufactured in the world had the thruster design making single and twin fins almost obsolete at the time. Simon is one of the few surfers who have made major contributions to surfing both as a shaper and a surfer.
1990 – TOM CARROLL
The world’s most lethal wave is Hawaii’s Pipeline and it was here that Tom Carroll, the short, muscular man from Newport, Sydney, displayed his mastery of the sport of surfing.
Carroll has won the Pipeline Masters three times – on each occasion amazing the surfing world with his skill, finesse and fearless approach in the face of the ocean’s awesome power.
Tom Carroll has done almost everything. He’s had 26 professional victories throughout the world, competing in conditions ranging from wave pools, through to his most favoured arena in Hawaii. He has finished in the world’s top 3 seven times, which includes two World Titles in 1983 and 1984, while also just missing in 1986, while finishing third in 1985, 1988 and 1991. He won the Triple Crown in 1991.
Carroll’s great rival through the 1980s was Tom Curren and one of his most memorable victories against this opponent was at the Bells Classic in 1986. Carroll was the first surfer to win Bells on his backhand. This vertical attack sparked an era where backside surfing became an advantage.
In 1987 he finished second to Greg Norman for the Australian Sportsman of the Year award.
Tom Carroll’s path to fame has not been without obstacles. His surfing has resulted in numerous leg, back and internal injuries, but his phenomenal conditioning and terrier-like attitude to competition has seen him through two decades of competitive surfing.
For 10 consecutive years from 1983 to 1993, Tom Carroll was voted Australia’s favourite surfer by the TRACKS surfing magazine readers’ poll. Australian surfers are proud of their international competitors and none deserve this adulation more than Tom Carroll.
1991 – PETER DROUYN
Peter Drouyn grew up in Queensland’s surfing haven on the Gold Coast and was the first Queensland male surfer to win an Australia Title. He was Australian Junior Champion in 1965 and 1966 and Australian Open Champion in 1970.
Peter also finished a very close third behind Rolf Arness (USA) and Midget Farrelly in the 1970 World Titles held at Bells Beach and Johanna.
By 1972 Peter had become disenchanted with competitive surfing. He was frustrated that he was a world class surfer following the contest around the globe but was unable to make a living from the sport. All a so-called professional surfer could expect at the time was perhaps an airfare and expenses to compete internationally.
In the following years he would flirt with an acting career studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London then at the National Institute of Dramatic Art in Sydney. He combined his acting and surfing talents in the Bob Evans surf movie “Drouyn”. To promote the movie, Peter posed nude in Cleo magazine in 1974. Peter enjoyed the adventure of travelling, surfing, searching and discovering waves around the world. He explored and found unridden waves along Africa’s wild West Coast.
Throughout his surfing career Peter was a colourful, flambouyant and very imaginative character. It was appropriate that he would devise and introduce the man-on-man competition format to professional surfing at the 1977 Stubbies, held at Burleigh Heads. Judging competitive surfing was and still is a very subjective assessment. The goal of reducing surfing heats to only two surfers was that the winner was clear, even if by the smallest of margins.
In 1986 he introduced surfing to China.
1992 – MICHAEL PETERSON (dec)
Michael Peterson is one of Australia’s most enigmatic sporting heroes. Recognised by his contemporaries as the best surfer in the world during the early 1970s, MP will be remembered for the new era he ushered into performance surfing.
Peterson possessed an innate sense of wave mechanics and combined this knowledge with devastating physical fitness and a killer instinct to become the most formidable competitor in the early 1970s.
MP won almost every major contest in Australia for three years from 1972 to 1975. His record included three Bells Titles, three Australian titles, three Queensland titles, the first Coke Surfabout as well as numerous smaller events. After failing to win an event in 1976 he came back to win the first Stubbies against a new generation of professionals in 1977 with an amazing tuberiding display at classic Burleigh Heads.
Peterson was a taciturn, enigmatic character, often avoiding presentations after a victory. His competition strategy was just as unique. MP would turn up late for his heats, or find a quiet nook to hide out down near the water’s edge or drift around the point with the rip as the heat started leaving his opponents feverishly wondering what he was up to.
His incredible surfing ability was best demonstrated in its free form in the hollow barrels of Burleigh Heads and Kirra Point where MP honed his trademark roundhouse cutback and deep tuberiding skills to a fine edge. MPs tuberiding at Kirra Point stands as the benchmark in Australian surfing history.
“Nobody would get deeper in the tube,” recalls underground Gold Coast surfer Sean Riley, who inherited MPs nickname “Reg” for his tuberiding at Kirra. “When he was taking off inside, everyone would yell and scream and Michael would just just give a high-pitched whistle, just a short, shrill whistle and you’d look inside and there he’d be.”
For those of us who missed the MP era, we can only go on the testimonies of those who were there.
“I know what I saw,” says fellow Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Bartholomew. “I grew up with Michael and I’ve seen the best in the world. Mark Richards, Shaun Thompson, Tommy Carroll… all of them. Therell never be another MP. No way.”
1993 – IAN CAIRNS
Ian “Kanga” Cairns will be remembered for two reasons – his contributions to Australian competitive surfing and his own surfing career.
Kanga dominated the competitive scene in his home state of Western Australia for is entire surfing career. He first appeared at the National Tiles in the mid 60s as a gangly junior and went on to win six consecutive WA State Titles.
Kanga was infamous for his attitude towards big waves. Having grown up surfing the powerful southern ocean swells battering the west coast of Australia, it was only time before he felt the lure of Hawaii. Ian became renowned for acclimatising to each Hawaiian season by pulling into the biggest, ugliest closeouts he could find. But the reasons for his daring actions went far deeper than the rush of huge drops and driving bottom turns.
He first tasted international success with victory at the 1973 Smirnoff Pro and went on to post a distinguished career in professional surfing winning the Duke Kahanamoku at Waimea Bay in 1975 and twice at Haleiwa in ensuing years.
Some of Kanga’s competitive success in Hawaii can be attributed to his fearless attitude towards life threatening situations. He thrived on intimidation. The bigger it got and the more fearful his opponents became the more comfortable he felt.
Cairns was also a visionary. He believed in professional surfing as a vocation and in 1976 Peter Townend, Mark Warren and himself formed the Bronzed Aussies, a unique marketing package which promoted surfers as professional athletes. Kanga became heavily involved in the International Professional Surfers body, acting as Australian surfer representative. He was instrumental in the ISP’s change to the Association of Surfing Professionals, the representative body of international professional surfing today.
Kanga held the mantle of ASP chief for six years until 1987 before returning to Western Australia. In late 1992, he resurfaced in California and soon after took the reins of the Bud Tour, the American domestic circuit that has been instrumental in the resurgence of American competitive surfing.
Kanga’s induction into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame is recognition of his advancement of Australian surfing, instigated by his own spectacular surfing ability and his strong willed leadership to see surfing make the big time in sports.
1993 – ISABEL LETHAM (dec)
Isabel is the Grande Dame of Australian surfing. She was amongst the first wave of Australian youngsters to become an exponent of the fine art of surfboard riding Isabel is arguably one of the first surfers in Australia. She was on the beach when the father of surfing and Olympic swimming gold medallist, the legendary Duke Kahanamoku gave his historic exhibition at Freshwater Beach in 1915.
Isabel and a youngster by the name of Claude West were invited to ride tandem on the Duke’s surfboard. Isabel we petrified. The board itself had been fashioned for the occasion by the Duke out of a piece of sugar-pine from Houdan’s Timber Merchants. Australians had used home-made boards but only lay on them. Until that particular Sunday at Freshwater Beach, Isabel had never seen anyone stand on a board. She never forgot the exhilaration of that first ride.
A few weeks later Isabel attended another exhibition staged by the Duke at the Dee Why Surf Life Saving Carnival. The Duke again invited her to ride with him despite terrible weather conditions and a rough ocean. Isabel elected to swim out rather than paddle on the board with the Duke. The waves were over 9 feet (3 metres) high, thick and powerful. Once out the back, Isabel and the Duke caught an enormous wave and rode it to the beach.
From this moment, Isabel was determined to learn everything about surfboard riding much to the consternation of her father. He soon gave in to Isabel’s persistence and built a beautiful redwood board to the Duke’s dimensions.
In the ensuing years, Isabel spent many wondrous days at her beloved Freshwater and Manly beaches riding waves with Claude and the renowned Snowy McAllister who became the first inductee into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame.
As time marched on Isabel continued to support women’s surfing, often attending events staged at Manly Beach. She became famous for her support of women’s involvement in the sport of surfing and was a proud patron of the Women’s Boardriders Association. In the words of Pam Burridge, Isabel Letham “is a great example and support of women’s surfing and a feminist well before the cause became popular.”
1995 – TERRY FITZGERALD
Terry Fitzgerald is one of a handful of Australian surfers whose career highlights span the years from the longboard era of the 1960s through to the birth and development of professional surfing in the 1970s.
As a surfer, shaper, innovator, administrator and businessman, he has played a pivotal role in Australian surfing for more than 30 years.
His distinctive surfing style at Sunset Beach, Hawaii earned him the nickname of “Mr Body Torque”, whilst epic session at Jefferies Bay, South Africa, resulted in the colourful sobriquet “the Sultan of Speed” – both terms capturing the exciting essence of his surfing.
Terry Fitzgeralds competitive career first blossomed in the mid sixties as a finalist in both the NSW Schoolboys Title (1966) and Bells Junior Title (1967). By 1969 he was the Australian Universities Champion and in 1970 a competitor in the World Titles at Bells Beach and Johanna.
During this period surfboard lengths dropped from 9ft to 5ft10in. As a cutting edge shaper, Terry Fitzgerald was involved in these developments and in two North Shore winters in the early 1970s, worked in conjunction with Reno Abellira, Gerry Lopez and Dick Brewer in reducing longboard lengths from 9’6″ rhino chasers to 7’10” mini guns.
In 1971 he was a finalist and Australia’s only representative in the Duke Kahanamoku Classic in Hawaii, and it was this performance which launched his professional career and the formation of his Hot Buttered Surf Company that same year.
His competitive career highlights include winning the 1972 Bells, 1975 Lightning Bolt and 1980 OM Bali Pro contests, and a host of minor places in the Coke and World Cup events. In 1975 he headed the inaugural international ratings of the APSA and was therefore the world’s No.1 ranked surfer.
Terry Fitzgerald’s Hot Buttered Surfboards have been leaders in design and innovation since the company’s inception. From kneeboards through to surfboards to high performance sailboards, Hot Buttereds distinctive shapes and spray jobs have set the company apart.
Terry Fitzgerald’s family, surfing and business commitments have been combined with ancillary activities as surf administrator, newspaper columnist, radio reporter, contest director, surf explorer, traveller and sponsor of surfing talent including that of his sons Joel, Kye and Liam.
In every sense, his life has been a continuous commitment to the surfing lifestyle.
1996 – BOB McTAVISH
Surfer, shaper and innovator, Bob McTavish has been one of Australian surfing’s most dynamic and creative figures.
During the late 1960s as a shaper and champion surfer he was a pivotal presence and catalyst in what has been called the shortboard revolution, when surfboard lengths were taken from 9ft to under 6ft in a matter of months.
Bob McTavish was born in 1944 and began surfing with his father and brother at Currumbin, Queensland, in 1956, progressing from a 16ft hollow plywood “toothpicks”, to plywood and later balsa then foam malibus.
In 1962 he moved to Sydney and began shaping for Scott Dillon and surfing the Dee Why and Avalon areas. In 1963 he achieved national notoriety by stowing away to Hawaii where he began a lifelong affair with big wave surfing, before he was deported back to Australia. In 1966, Bob finished second to Nat Young in the Australian titles.
Bob has shaped for a long line of famous Australian boardmakers including Dillon, Woods, Wallace, Hayden, Cord and Keyo, where he developed the first short boards in 1967. In 1968 he reached a personal peak at Rincon, California where he introduced the first short board to the USA.
Bob has spent many years based in the Lennox Head area, where he shapes some 10,000 boards a year from little 6 footers to 9ft progressive longboards and 10ft 6in balsa replicas. A major project for him is the production of the “enviro board”, a surfboard constructed from environmentally sensitive materials.
Bob has been married for more than 25 years and has raised five children, most of whom surf.
1996 – PHYLLIS O’DONNELL
Phyllis O’Donnell came to surfing relatively late in life as a 23-year-old in 1960. But with natural athleticism and a never diminished enthusiasm quickly made up the lost time.
In 1964 she came Australia’s first official World Women’s Champion and helped establish a tradition of Australian women’s surfing excellence that has continued through surfers such as Gail Couper, to recent World Champions Pam Burridge, Wendy Botha and Pauline Menczer.
Phyllis O’Donnell was born in Sydney in 1937, but shifted north with her family to Tweed Heads in the early 1960s and honed her surfing skills at breaks such as Snapper Rocks and Kirra, using equipment shaped by famous Queensland board maker Joe Larkin.
For a 10-year period from the early 1960s Phyllis was a dominant force in World, Australian and Queensland women’s surfing. A World Champion, eight times Queensland Champion, and three successive Australian titles in 1963, 1964 and 1965 rewarded her talent and dedication.
In 1964 the Australian Women’s Titles were held in conjunction with the first official World Surfing Championships at Manly, NSW, sponsored by Ampol, the titles attracted huge attention. Surfing with poise and grace, and using her trademark “spinner” manoeuvre, Phyllis defeated a top field that included the highly regarded US women’s champion Linda Benson, to take the World Title.
She subsequently competed in two other World Championships, placing sixth in 1966 in California and third in Puerto Rico in 1968.
Her surf travels took her to California several times where she worked for top board manufacturer Dewey Weber, and Hawaii, where she placed third in the 1966 Makaha event.
In Australia, Phyllis’ competitive career included a second in the 1969 Bells event. Her last competition was on the Gold Coast in 1974.
Phyllis O’Donell helped Australian surfing onto the world stage at a time when the sport was dominated by Hawaiians and Californians.
1997 – PAM BURRIDGE
For almost 20 years from 1980 onwards, Pam Burridge successfully competed at the highest national and international levels of world surfing. With Australian and World Women’s titles to her credit with her high media profile and her active promotion of women in surfing, she is undoubtedly one of the pivotal figures of Australian surfing and a role model and inspiration to thousands of surfers.
Born in Sydney in 1965, Pam received her first surfboard as a 10th birthday present and learned to surf in “Kiddies Corner” at Freshwater Beach. By the age of 12 she had joined the Manly Pacific Boardriders Club, tasted competition success and received her first media attention and sponsorship.
With the support of her parents, Bill and Irene Burridge (who drove her to and from the beach every day before and after school for almost six years) she set out to carve a niche in surfing.
Australian women’s titles in 1980 and 1981 were the stepping stones to bigger things.
In 1980, with her mother, she travelled to Hawaii and at the age of 15, in the big waves, competed in both the World Cup and Pipeline Masters events, against the top professionals of the time including Margo Oberg, Jericho Poppler and Rell Sunn. The lesson she learned from this experience were to prove invaluable.
During the 1980s, with extensive media coverage, Pam was one of Australia’s most widely recognised surfers. As a travelling professional she competed on the world circuit and was runner-up for the World Women’s Title on four occasions in 1982, 1986, 1988 and 1989. Her persistence, courage and tenacity were rewarded in 1990 when he finally won the much sought-after World Title.
Throughout the 1990s, Pam continued to compete successfully at the highest levels as World Title runner-up yet again in 1992 and 1993. After a period of semi-retirement in the mid 90s she came back as a force to be reckoned with in both the WCT and WQS circuits of the late 90s.
Among her most cherished wins were victories as Margaret River, Sunset Beach and Biarritz as well as early Australian Titles at Queenscliff and Bells Beach.
1998 – BARTON LYNCH
Natural ability, a sharp intellect and a strong social conscience combine to make Barton Lynch one of the most formidable figures in surfing of the last two decades.
Barton emerged from the beachbreak of Manly with a wildly flexible and gymnastic style and unflappable competitive drive that helped him to a spectacular junior career, including victories in the Pro Junior, the JJJ Junior and the APSA ratings.
He refined his competitive act into a flawless, fluid routine of vertical manoeuvres that brought him immediate success on the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Tour. He spent 13 consecutive years in the elite top 16, earning a reputation as a brilliant, tactical competitor as well as a forthright and articulate spokesman for the sport.
His greatest competitive moment could not have been more perfectly scripted, as he sailed to glory in the perfect tubes of Hawaii’s famed Pipeline, to take out the 1988 Billabong Pro and the World Title. He retired from competition in March 1998, after 15 years on the ASP Tour and 17 career victories.
Barton has given his time generously to charities and community service, including the Variety Club, the Humpty Dumpty Foundation and the Disabled Surfers Association (DSA). He also organised the surfer’s protest against French Nuclear Testing in the South Pacific during the French leg of the ASP Tour. He has spent 10 years on the ASP Board as a surfer’s representative and a passionate advocate for surfer’s rights amid the clamour of the modern surfing marketplace.
His observations on surfing are widely sought by the media, as a reporter for Channel Nine’s Wide World of Sports and Macquarie Radio, as a guest on Hey Hey It’s Saturday, the Today Show, Sportsworld, the Midday Show and Good Morning Australia.
He received the ASP Sportsman Award in 1995, the ASP Service to the Sport Award in 1997 and was inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame in 1998.
1999 – DAMIEN HARDMAN
Damien’s ice-cool, competitive drive is legend in professional surfing. Few surfers have maintained the fire of contest success for as long as this unassuming, Narrabeen goofyfoot, who continues to defy accepted age barriers for pro surfing peak performance.
Damien took the radical power approach and ruthless competitiveness of his Narrabeen elders like Col Smith and Simon Anders and honed it into his own unstoppable style. A four-time Australian Schoolboy Champion and 1984 Australian and World Junior Champion, Damien always seemed destined for surfing greatness. Yet he has exceeded even the loftiest expectations with his casual domination of opponents over 15 years on the ASP World Tour.
He was one of the prime surfers responsible for raising the performance stakes in the late 1980s, fitting in more vertical manoeuvres per wave than anyone. He claimed the ASP World Title in 1987 and 1991. He was inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame in 1999.
His continued success against a new generation of pro surfers up to 15 years his junior has stunned all, and during the year of his induction into the Hall of Fame was rated number two in the world, behind another tour veteran, Mark Occhilupo.
2000 – ROD BROOKS
Former president of Surfing Australia, Rod Brooks learnt to ride a board in the south-east wind slop at the Middle Brighton Pier in Port Phillip Bay as a 12-year-old. A year or two later, with the help of shaper Paddy Morgan, Rod advanced to Bells Beach.
There began a 40-year relationship with the winter swells that resulted in some innovative wet suit development, five Victorian open surfing titles, 11 appearances in the Bells Easter Championship finals, leading administrator and part-time career as a major surfing event director.
As part of Quiksilver International he directed the Quiksilver Pro World Champion Tour events at new exotic locations in G-land, East Java, and Cloudbreak Reef in Fiji. These events have been credited with changing the face of the modern surfing tour – running at major international breaks in remote locations with perfect waves and using satellite communication over the Internet. Directing events at premier surfing locations, Rod’s contribution helped to enhance the credibility of the world tour in the eyes of the wider surfing community and increase mainstream media interest in the sport.
Rod was also involved as Chairman and Technical Director of the International Surfing Association and helped develop the modern World Surfing Games, which now attract entries from 42 countries. As President of Surfing Australia he along with Alan Atkins introduced fulltime surfing administration to run the sport.
A keen interest in cold water wetsuits led Rod to found the national surfing brand Piping Hot in Torquay. He also took an interest in the local government for the area and was a member on the committee to form the Surf Coast Shire. He was also a foundation member of the Bells Beach Advisory committee and Surfworld Museum development project.
2000 – GAIL COUPER
Born in Melbourne in 1947, Gail Couper became an almost unbeatable force on the Australian surfing circuit.
After moving to Lorne in Victoria, Couper, the daughter of surfing administration pioneer Stan, started surfing when she was 14.
Inspired by the surfing of fellow Victorian Wayne Lynch, Couper won her first State Title just three years after taking up surfing. It marked the start of an unprecedented dominance of surfing events. Couper won 14 Victorian State Titles and won 10 Bells events every year from 1966, missing just once in 1969.
She won her first Australian Title in 1966 with further victories in 1967, 1971, 1972 and 1975.
On the world stage, Couper also made a mark reaching the semi-finals of the World Championships in 1964, fourth two years later and the semi-finals again two years later.
2001 – PETER TOWNEND
Peter Townend was the first ever World Champion of the International Professional Surfing competition. His amazing feat came seven years after he first picked up a surfboard at 15 years of age. At 22 he was competing in 20 foot surf at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Hawaii, on the way to a World Title.
Amazingly Peter placed second in every round on the Championship in 1976 and while he didn’t win one contest he had enough points to take the World Title. In fact, he became known as the perennial second place getter, a total of 29 in his professional years. But that made him one of the most feared competitors on the circuit, his rivals did not enjoy seeing Peter on their side of the draw knowing they’d have to beat him to progress to be any chance of a finals berth.
Peter didn’t have to go far to meet destiny. Born at Bilinga on the Gold Coast he lived and grew up in and around Coolangatta. Some of the world’s best waves were just down the road at Kirra Point and it was at Kirra and Burleigh that he learned the skills that would eventually give him the edge over the world’s best. His biggest influences in those days were his parents, “If you believe in something and are true to yourself, like my mum taught me you can succeed in life.”
And that’s exactly what Peter did. He is credited with giving surfing a professionalism that the sport didn’t enjoy in the early years. Long time friend and fellow World Champion Wayne Bartholomew says, “before the days of world rankings Peter used to carry a notebook to all of the international surf contests and rank the surfers and the surf event”, smiled Bartholomew, “of course he’d always be ranked number one.”
Peter eventually moved to Huntington Beach where he flourished in both business and administration.
In 1998 he was inducted into the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame for his devotion to the betterment of sport. He continues to foster the growth and development of surfing and was instrumental in establishing the American National Scholastic Surfing Association, and the American amateur and professional tours.
2002 – PETER TROY (dec)
Imagine a world before surf reports, surf camps, the World Wide Web and international surfing organisations. A time when there were only a few places where surfing was practised at all, and fewer still where it was practised with any level of proficiency. Peter Troy simply packed his bag, tucked his surfboard under his arm and set off into this world travelling through Europe, Africa, United States, Hawaii, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, United States Hawaii, Peru, Brazil, Argentina – surfing wherever and whenever he could. Peter even hitchhiked from the world’s most southern most community on an island south of Tierra del Fuego to the northern most community less than 10 degrees from the North Pole just to see that he could do it.
As a respected surfer he was selected to demonstrate boardriding at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. Peter went on to co-found the first Bells contest in 1962; he was European Champion in 1963, and went on to compete at Makaha in Hawaii and the World Title in Peru. He introduced surfing to Brazil and discovered the surf of Punta Roca in Peru in 1964, and Lagundi Bay (Nias), while attempting to ride a motorbike from Australia to India in 1975. He has slept on the roof of travelling railroad freight cars and even shared a mouldy mattress in the back of an old hearse with Murph the Surf, a notorious jewel thief who stole the Star of India. Peters passport shows evidence of over 140 countries visited.
It was during his later travels that he was inspired to start work on his most enduring legacy. In 1981 he was instrumental in developing a plan to create the Australian Surfing Museum in Torquay. In his usual methodical manner he coaxed funding from the fledgling surf industry and sought out artefacts and information to establish a wonderful cornerstone for our surfing heritage.
Thousands of people young and old pass through Surfworld each year and experience the special magic that Peter helped create.
For 12 years Peter owned Mudjimba Island and spent over two year surfing those perfect lefts at every opportunity. In 2002 he was an Austrade ambassador to Brazil and while there was inducted in the Brazilian Surfing Hall of Fame.
Whether you are a surfer or simply someone who enjoys the spectacle of surfing, you have to marvel at a man who embodies surfing’s adventurous spirit, a genuine surfing pioneer.
Through his adventures, Peter has spread an awareness and appreciation of surfing to many far flung corners of the globe. Peter Troy has travelled many paths, as well as carving out some of his own, not as a tourist, but as a humble surfing ambassador, who if truth be known, has done nearly as much to advance the cause and stature of surfing as Duke Kahanamoku.
2003 – WAYNE DEANE
Born in June 1952 at Murwillumbah, Queensland, it wasn’t long before Wayne Deane began his lifelong association with the ocean. As a child at Rainbow Bay he played on various surf craft, surfoplanes and foam boards. Then as he grew he graduated to his first fibreglass board on Christmas Day in 1960, surfing with his brother Rob. This was a fundamental and significant step in the surfing life of Wayne Deane, who went on to become one of Australia’s most unassuming and successful competitive surfers.
Throughout the 60s and 70s, Wayne carved out a solid reputation for himself on Queensland’s Gold Coast, particularly at Kirra. His fluent style and power positioning at dredging sand-bottomed barrels like Kirra earned him respect from grommets and seasoned professional alike.
Wayne is one of Australia’s most dedicated and consistent surfing competitors with a competition career that spans the last 45 years. His competitive career was launched through the Snapper Rocks surf club, of which Wayne is a past president and now life member. The club also awarded him the title of Surfer of the Decade in 2000.
Wayne has won 10 Queensland and 17 Australian Surfing Titles competing on both short and longboards in most age divisions in a testament to his surfing prowess and dedication to competitive surfing. He also won the 1990 ISA Longboard World Championship at Chiba in Japan.
Apart from his competitive success, Wayne is a gifted and respected surfboard shaper with an understanding of the design and performance of both longboards and modern shortboards. From shaping cut down mals in 1967 – including Wayne Bartholomew’s first board – to more modern shapes, Wayne developed much sought after designs.
Wayne is also passionate about protecting the beaches he loves and has been involved in many campaigns to help save Kirra and other landmarks on the Gold Coast from exploitation.
2004 – PAUL NEILSEN
Paul Neilsen is one of the Gold Coast’s surfing greats. Like illustrious contemporaries Wayne Bartholomew, Michael Peterson, Peter Townend and Peter Drouyn, Paul was born and bred on the Coast.
The sons of Surfer Paradise’s first professional life guard Bill Neilsen, Paul and his brother Rick both were brought up on the beach, and a passion for surfing was instilled in them from an early age. With his casual surfing style honed in the famed Gold Coast point breaks of Burleigh Heads and Kirra, Paul started entering contests and won the Australian Title at Bells Beach in 1971.
Possessing a cavalier approach to big waves, Paul ventured to Hawaii where he won the prestigious Smirnoff Classic to become the 1972 World Pro-am Champion. He also scored major placings in events including the famous Stubbies Classic at Burleigh Heads.
Neilsen retired from pro surfing in the late 1970s to concentrate on his burgeoning surf retailing business, Brothers Neilsen.
The Neilsen brothers, Paul, Rick and older sibling Len opened their first shop in the Centre Arcade Surfers Paradise in 1971. Their first day’s takings were a princely 24 cents for a block of wax.
2005 – MARK OCCHILUPO
Mark “Occy” Occhilupo was a young, powerful goofy footer who stormed the World Championship Tour (WCT) with power unseen from any surfer, especially at the age of 17. His rise was followed by an equally spectacular fall only to rebound for one of Australian sport’s greatest comebacks. He remains one of the sport’s most beloved figures.
Born June 16, 1966, in Kurnell, Sydney, Mark hit the water nine years later. By 13, he moved on to contests and just four years later made his debut on the World Tour in 1983 and finished 16th. He quickly rose up the rankings. In 1984 he finished third, followed by a fourth and then another third. During this time were wins at the Pipeline Masters, and the Op Pro twice.
His popularity and colourful personality also allowed him to enjoy other pursuits outside of surfing and in 1987 he scored a part in the Hollywood movie North Shore.
Nicknamed the “Raging Bull”, Occy was blessed with powerful, stumpy legs and he will be remembered for some of the most explosive backside surfing ever seen on the Tour, particularly at South Africa’s Jeffreys Bay and Bells Beach.
Sadly the most popular surfer on tour faced a fierce battle against himself. Years on the tour burned Occy out. He lost focus. He lost his desire to surf and he faded away from the 1980s spotlight as he battled personal issues.
But as the years passed, the time away gave Occy a clearer vision of his goal. In 1994 he started getting fit, shedding the mass of weight he had piled on and three years later completed his first full year on tour since 1987 to finish runner-up to Kelly Slater. The following year he slipped back to seventh, but in 1999 with wins (Tahiti, Fiji and Spain) at three of the 13 events Occy won the World Title at the age of 33. At the time he was pro surfing’s oldest world champion.
Occy has featured in more than 70 surf videos and movies including the 1999 Jack McCoy film Occy: The Occumentary.
He remains one of the most dangerous and competitive surfers on tour, and will forever remain one of its favourite and admired personalities.
2006 – LAYNE BEACHLEY
Layne Beachley’s story is incredible, and as fantastic as it all may seem, it is still being written. It would be enough for most people to be described as Australia’s most successful competitive surfer, but Layne’s story goes way beyond that.
Born in 1972 and adopted as a child, Layne grew up in Sydney and began surfing when she was only 4-years-old. Growing up surfing at the city beaches in Sydney, surfers soon adopt a competitive approach simply to survive. Layne adapted and realised the only way for her to compete at local surf spots was to surf as well as the guys that surfed.
This innate competitiveness served her well when in 1989 she joined the pro surfing circuit. With little competitive surfing background, Layne still made an impact in the pro ranks climbing steadily up the rankings to finish runner-up in the World Title chase in 1997.
Layne by this stage had teamed up with noted big-wave surfer Ken Bradshaw, who became coach, board builder and boyfriend all at the same time. There was an immediate impact with Layne winning her first world Title in 1998. What followed was an unprecedented run of competition success and World Titles. Layne won seven world championships in a row, a feat unmatched in surfing history.
Layne’s championship trail and unprecedented run of surfing success has not come without some bumps in the road. She has had to overcome injuries and chronic fatigue syndrome to maintain her position as surfing’s most dominant female figure.
Layne is one of surfing’s most honoured and celebrated individuals having won or been awarded numerous peer polls and surfing awards. She has been named Australia’s top female surfer seven times at the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame awards.
Layne has also expanded the perceived limits of women’s surfing by taking on and riding huge surf, and surf too big to paddle into. By using and adapting to advanced technology and techniques, she became tow-in surfing’s first recognised female practitioner.
Layne has always been active and involved in expanding and promoting the sport she loves, and has a profound respect and admiration for those that paved the way for her in women’s surfing. Her vision and energies extend beyond surfing, having set up her own foundation to encourage and support young girls’ pursuit of their sporting dreams.
Layne’s story continues….
2007 – CHEYNE HORAN
Born in August 1960, Cheyne Horan started surfing in 1970 and began competing in 1973.
He left school in 1977, going pro that same year and began competing on the world tour in 1978. He was also a member of the first pro “team” the Bronzed Aussies.
In his 37 years as a surfer, he competed on the World Tour for 18 years, for 20 pro wins and 12 major titles. He was runner-up for the World Title four times. Cheyne had a distinctive low, powerful stance perfect for concentrating his manoeuvres in the pocket of the wave and was one of the first adopters of the floater and airs.
He has previously been recognized by the Hall of Fame in the Innovation category for the development of the Star Fin in conjunction with Ben Lexcen and was renowned for riding experimental surfboards including the Lazer Zap.
Cheyne has a long list of credits in other areas such as coaching, big wave riding, surfboard design and development and he had a long-term association with surfboard manufacturer Geoff McCoy.
He has appeared in more than 50 surf movies and in 1999 Quiksilver Masters World Championships defeated Wayne Bartholomew in the final.
2008 – MARK WARREN
Surfing pioneer Mark Warren’s varied and successful careers within surfing span four decades. A 1970s pro surfer, a media sports personality in the 1980s, national coach and ASP Tour Representative in the 1990s and surf event internet broadcast pioneer during the following decade.
Warren, from Narrabeen, was the 1970 NSW Junior Champion who went onto become one of the world’s first pro surfers winning numerous contests including the 1976 Smirnoff World Pro-Am at Sunset Beach and The Duke Kahanamoku Classic at Waimea Bay, Hawaii in 1980. He was an original member of the Bronzed Aussies with Peter Townend and Ian Cairns. He finished the 1976 World Title ranked sixth.
To this day Warren remains at the forefront of the sport, responsible for the live web streaming of the Quiksilver and Roxy Pro tournaments around the globe.
“If surfing is Hawaii’s gift to the world then I’m amazed how, for me, surfing is the gift that keeps on giving,” said Warren. “I get just as big a thrill now out of a half decent wave as I did when I first started surfing over 40 years ago.”
2009 – STAN COUPER (dec)
Stan Couper was instrumental in the development of Surfing in Australia and his induction recognizes his “significant contribution” to the development of surfing.
Stan was a Surfing Australia President (then Australian Surfriders Association) and long time Victorian President and office-bearer, outstanding administrator, contest director and judge in the 1960s and early 1970s.
He was credited with documenting Australian Surfriders Association rules and being a major force for stability during a period of competition development and the emergence of country soul surfing which questioned competition relevance.
Stan was also influential in the establishment and maintenance of the first surfing reserve for surfers’ exclusive use, the Bells Beach Surfing Recreation Reserve. He was also a major contributor to the administration of the World Surfing Championships in 1970 at Bells Beach.
2009 – GARY ELKERTON
Born in 1964 and spending much of his childhood on the Sunshine Coast, Gary “Kong” Elkerton became the quintessential power surfer. He was big, he was brash, and he could lay the rail better than 99% of the guys in the water in a pro career spanning more than a decade.
In an era regarded more for its flash than substance, Gary was a surfer who could back up the hype. He won the Pro Junior in Sydney in 1982 and moved into the pro ranks in 1984.
The big man was untouchable in everything from six to 20 feet. A three-time World Title runner-up in 1987, 1990 and 1993 he also won the Triple Crown in Hawaii in 1987 and 1989.
He came out firing in the ASP Masters Championships, claiming the ASP World Masters Title in 2000, 2001 and 2003.
Gary starred in a series of videos including Kong’s Island, The Performers and Filthy Habits.
2010 – DOUG WARBRICK
Learning to surf in the 1950s at Currumbin and Maroochydore, Doug “Claw” Warbrick founded Rip Curl in 1967 with Brian Singer.
He started making surfboards to indulge his passion at Torquay and by 1969 with the help of a vintage sewing machine began running up wet suits.
He was responsible for starting the Bells Beach Surf Classic aka the Rip Curl Pro in 1973, held during Easter each year at Bells Beach.
Doug’s other surfing achievements include being an original member of the ASA (now Surfing Australia) in 1963 and was a committee member and VP of Surfing Victoria in the 1960s and 1970s. He was also a founding member of the ASP World Tour and the Surfrider Foundation Australia.
After surfing for over 50 years Doug maintains a fierce passion for everything surfing; the industry, sport, culture, history, contests, free surfing, innovation, travel and adventure, as well as mentoring surfing’s great young talents and witnessing their exceptional performances.
2011 – ALBY FALZON
Growing up in the beachside suburb Maroubra in Sydney, Alby Falzon did not begin surfing until age 14, when the family moved to the New South Wales Central Coast.
In the early 1970s, Falzon was a young surfer, photographer and magazine publisher who decided that he wanted to make a really beautiful film about surfing.
Scraping together just enough money for petrol and a few rolls of 16mm film, Falzon began periodically driving up the north coast of New South Wales with a couple of surfing buddies and ended up creating one the classic surf movies of all time – Morning of the Earth.
The film portrays surfers living in spiritual harmony with nature, making their own boards (and homes) as they travelled in search of the perfect wave across Australia’s north-east coast, Bali and Hawaii. This inaugural feature film was the first Australian film to receive a gold record for album sales.
Falzon’s career in film making was a natural progression from international still photography, and later combined with magazine publishing.
In 1970, he was co-founder and publisher of the surfing newspaper Tracks and was the only photographer at Makaha when Greg Noll rode the legendary swells that hit there.
Like George Greenough, Alby has achieved a kind of mythical status not only as a film-maker, but as an adventurer, opening destinations such as Indonesia and the Maldives to surfers. While filming Morning of the Earth, Albert and his crew were one of the first groups of surfers to ever travel to Indonesia, starting what has since then been a constant flow of surf-tourists to the region.
Falzon still lives on an eco-friendly farm he bought in the early 1970s near the mid-North on his 60 acre property at Grassy Heads, where he cares for and feeds injured wildlife, before loading up his boards and driving to the beach for a surf.
And it seems that the Morning of the Earth lifestyle he so expertly captured in the early 1970s, is still very much a part of the man today.
2012 – ROSS CLARKE-JONES
Ross Clarke-Jones is the heart and soul of Australian big-wave surfing. A storm chasing juggernaut who will take on any challenge Mother Nature cares to throw at him.
For almost 30 years, the 45-year-old has forged a reputation as a fearless, charger who shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, his 40s have marked an even more earnest search to ride the planet’s biggest waves.
It was a hunger instilled in him at an early age. Born in Sydney in 1966, Ross rode his first waves at Terrigal as a 10-year-old and immediately realised the real action was out the back. He excelled through juniors and into the professional ranks and at 19 broke into the elite ASP Tour in 1985. He remained on Tour for almost a decade. At the start it seemed an ideal place for Ross to be… for his first two major professional events he landed in giant surf at Margaret River and Waimea Bay.
The Billabong Pro was held in 20 foot waves at Waimea and a 19-year-old Ross charged on the tiniest boards in the competition when others baulked. As it turns out Waimea Bay would remain one of Rosss happiest hunting grounds. He is a perennial invitee to the prestigious Eddie Aikau event that only runs if the swell is over 20 feet and was rewarded for his devotion to the Bay when in 2001 at 34-years-old he took the title, the first non-Hawaiian to do so.
With the Tour well behind him, Ross embarked on a relentless quest to find and ride the biggest waves possible. Not surprisingly he has amassed a formidable hit list off Hawaii, Australia, California, Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, Europe, Japan and even the piranha-infested waters of the Amazon River. In recent years, he has teamed up with great mate Tom Carroll to film Storm Surfers which follows the pair as they push the boundaries in the search for larger, more remote waves. He has also featured in a series of surf movies and videos including a documentary on his life called The Sixth Element.
But it hasn’t all been an easy ride. Ross has paid his dues. A big list of injuries is as impressive as the big waves he has surfed – several near drownings, broken back, broken ribs, shoulder and bicep mishaps and most recently a serious neck injury, which required surgery.
2013 – STEPHANIE GILMORE
No competitor in the history of professional surfing has made such a dramatic debut as Stephanie Gilmore did in 2007.
Winning four of the eight events, 19-year-old Stephanie won the World Title in her first year on Tour – a feat unprecedented in the sport.
But few were surprised. Stephanie was already causing a stir after winning her first ASP event two years earlier as a wildcard aged just 17. It was her home event, the Roxy Pro Gold Coast, and left no-one in doubt the young girl from Kingscliff in northern New South Wales had arrived.
She repeated the effort as a wildcard at the Havianas Beachley Classic in Sydney the following year and along with a triumphant assault on the World Qualifying Series, the Stephanie Gilmore World Domination Tour was poised to begin.
Jumping on a surfboard for the first time when she was nine, Stephanie had a natural affinity with the surf and having the wave-rich northern New South Wales and Gold Coast region as her playground it didnt take long before people were taking notice. Schooled on the southern Gold Coast point-breaks, Stephanie could not have asked for better inspiration than fellow locals Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson.
Honing her skills in this competitive proving ground, Stephanie combined her natural style with great power that would prove unstoppable on the Womens Tour.
After her debut World Title triumph, Stephanie retained the crown for the next three years. Sadly, it was not another competitor that would stop her in her tracks, but a brutal assault at her home in the Tweed Heads just prior to the start of the 2011 season. Stephanie relinquished the crown that year to Hawaiian Carissa Moore but it fuelled a competitive fire inside and she emerged in 2012 with a fierce determination and swept back to the top in a blistering year to claim her fifth World Title.
In so doing, she became only the third surfer in the history of professional surfing to win five or more World Titles after seven-times champion Layne Beachley and 11-times World Champion Kelly Slater.
A marvellous ambassador for Australian surfing on the world stage, Stephanie continues to win international accolades including the 2010 Laureus Action Sports Person of the Year Award and the 2011 ESPN ESPY Female Action Sports Person of the Year.
Her induction as the 35th member of the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame adds to Stephanies burgeoning list of accolades. But it is an achievement that sits somewhat awkwardly with her.
This is such an honour, Stephanie said.
Everyone in the Hall of Fame has had such an incredible impact on the world of surfing and to be included in that is unreal.
I always feel like these awards are premature for myself, because Im nowhere near retiring but it is very flattering and I love that my achievements in surfing are being recognised on larger scales.
As a grommet growing up in Kingscliff, Stephanie said it was always a thrill to regularly see fellow inductee and 1964 World Champion Phyllis ODonell.
I do love the old stories of the surf culture and the impact it had on the lives and fashions in generations of that time. And I love that Phyllis ODonell was the first ever crowned World Champion because they crowned the women first, and she is from the same area that I grew up surfing.
I was always stoked to see her around Kingscliff when I was growing up.
Recently turned 25 but already with a lifetime of experiences, Stephanie said it was difficult to highlight one standout moment from her short but eventful career.
There are so many special moments.
Surfing perfect Honolua Bay and winning a World Title there was exactly why I love being on Tour. Winning a Laureus Award was also the coolest. Sharing a World Title with Kelly, Mick and Joel is something that I really cherish too.
Despite her domination of last years Tour and with her sights firmly set on a sixth World Title, Stephanie is always wary of the ever-present dangers and amazing depth of talent on the Womens World Tour.
The Womens Tour has become a beautiful monster.
The girls are surfing with power and style and they all carry themselves so well around events. Its getting better every year.
2014 – COL SMITH
Narrabeens Col Smith was a big, gruff, tough Aussie bloke with platinum blond hair, a goatee and a heart of gold. He was not the prettiest surfer to watch, but his vertical attack in moderate to larger waves was positively explosive.
At a time when going vertical often meant unlinked and incomplete manoeuvres, Smith seemed glued to his board as he unleashed lip-bash after lip-bash, equally adept at pushing his soft-railed boards to the limit forehand or backhand.
While some regarded him as Wayne Lynch without the finesse, Smith compensated for his sometimes ungainly style with the shock value of his moves. Did he really just pull that off? That question was asked many times as Smith developed his reputation in the North Narrabeen alley in the early 1970s. Born in 1949, Col was a late bloomer and didnt really make an impact at Narrabeen until the shortboard transition era, around 1968. By then he was a big lad, but he was incredibly fast in his moves and soon developed a seamless approach to his surfing that made him stand out from the pack.
A devoted member of the North Narrabeen Boardriders Club, and its club champion for more years than anyone can recall, Smith was an erratic performer in bigger events, seemingly unable to hold back his radical repertoire in order to win a heat. He won an Australian title in 1977, but for the most part the big results seemed to elude him.
While his lack of entries in the record books might cause history to underrate him, those who were there are in no doubt as to the mans greatness as a surfer. Simon Anderson, who grew up watching Cols snaps and learning from them, has written that Smith may have been the best surfer in the world at that time.
Smith also became a respected shaper, starting his career at Keyo and Hot Buttered before creating the Morning Star brand in 1975. Within a couple of years he was building boards for a young goofy-foot protégé named Tom Carroll. Like Anderson, Carroll had grown up in awe of the big mans ability, and although he was able to turn the inspiration into two world titles while Smith slowly faded from the scene, he never forgot that it was big Col who had shown him how to push out of that bottom turn and aim the board for the sky.
Never one to push his barrow in the surf media, Smith seemed more content with life when the weight of fame was lifted from him. Although he had travelled to Bali and Hawaii as a younger man, by the 1980s Col was happy enough to stay home, mentor local groms and be a Narrabeen institution.
(Story courtesy Australias Hottest 100 Surfing Legends by Phil Jarratt)
2015 – Ted Spencer
Ted Spencer was 19 when he won his first Bell in 1968 from Keith Paul and Midget Farrelly. He won again the following year, this time from Frank Latta and Nat Young, with Peter Drouyn fourth, Midget fifth and Wayne Lynch sixth.
In the opinion of the most influential surfers of the time, Ted’s contribution in terms of creative, powerful and innovative surfing and surfboard design has never been given due recognition. A true leader and path-setter, he chose to step away from the spotlight on his own terms and remains one of surfing’s most elusive and enigmatic figures.
The philosophy of surfing that guided him was partially articulated in a short story written while staying in Lorne in 1974. Following is an excerpt of a discussion between
“Well, I don’t really know what you mean by ‘learn it.’ I just flowed through the situation without thinking about it and sort of did what was naturally called for.”
He stopped for a moment and thought before speaking further. “Besides, Michael, why do you want to limit your own surfing by copying others? I mean, those days are gone. Surfing is more of a refined experience now. You can’t really progress by memorisation alone because you will always be entering situations that may call for an approach that you just don’t have wired.
“When that happens your mind will balk, and you’ll be defeated. A wise surfer is one who applies sensitivity to his surfing. He doesn’t rely on his storehouse of past memorised moves. So if you just want to learn a new manoeuvre, I’m afraid I can’t really help you. I used to approach surfing like that, but found it to be too limiting. Refining your surfing doesn’t simply mean refining different isolated areas and manoeuvres. In a deeper sense it means refining your very self; then everything you do will be refined.
“There is an old Zen saying that if you want to cook perfectly, you have to be the perfect cook outside the kitchen too. In my own life I have found this to be true. As l become more sensitive, so too does my surfing.”
The refined surfer sees the wave but can also feel how the subtle energy is moving, and he can thereby tune into and move with it.
There was a gull overhead, and Michael watched it momentarily. It soared effortlessly. Without a flap of its wings, the gull climbed and dropped, arced and circled,
riding the air currents that were invisible to even its own eyes.
Ted Spencer & T.K.S
2016 – Barry Bennett
The influence Barry Bennet has had on the Australian surfing industry is timeless. Not
just for his pioneer work as a surfboard manufacturer and shaper but for the guidance
he provided to many of the country’s leading surfers and shapers.Born in 1931, Barry started building plywood and balsa surfboards and skis in the 1950s at Waverly in the eastern suburbs of Sydney.
It quickly became a full-time job and Barry moved production to Harbord on the Northern Beaches of Sydney before forming Bennett Surfboards in 1960 and opening a factory dedicated to the manufacture of surfboard and blanks on Harbord Road in Brookvale. As the number of employees rose to five and weekly production approached 50 boards, balsa was phased out and urethane production began in 1960 with the blanks moulded at the factory. Two years later Barry formed Dion Chemicals, a foam blank and chemical business manufacturing polyurethane blanks and resins plus providing fibreglass, fins and all other accessories a shaper would need. During this time a steady stream of surfers who were to become some of Australia’s best surfboard craftsmen were also cutting their teeth in the Bennett factory in Brookvale. Bob McTavish, Geoff McCoy, Nat Young and Midget Farrelly were among many spent time in the factory honing their skills.“Barry was the first entrepreneur,” McTavish told journalist Nick Carroll in an interview.“He saw it was better to have a small piece of every surfboard made in Australia than to make a small number of surfboards and barely survive. He was a very simple guy. He wasn’t hoodwinked by the hype – he liked measureable things.” Bob’s legacy also still exists in his strong family links to the surf life saving movement supplying paddleboards and rescue boards to
local and overseas clubs.
2017 – Peter Crawford
Crawford became the 39th inductee into the Hall of Fame, his exceptional photographic talent, informed by his surfing skill, allowed him to reveal this period of Australian surfing to the world from the intimate perspective of his Nikonos water camera’s lens. Many of the finest surfing photographs of the era – published across and beyond the surfing world, in publications from Surfing World and Surfer magazine were shot by Peter and captured the core spirit of the sport for all to enjoy.
His exceptional photographic talent, informed by his surfing skill, allowed him to reveal this period of Australian surfing to the world from the intimate perspective of his Nikonos water camera’s lens. Many of the finest surfing photographs of the era – published across and beyond the surfing world, in publications from Surfing World and Surfer magazine to broader men’s magazines like Playboy and Inside Sport – were shot by Peter and captured the core spirit of the sport for all to enjoy.
Sadly Peter passed away in Bali in 1999 from the apparent effects of a spider bite. He is survived by his sons Scott and Justin.