15 Random Surf Facts

23 Dec 2013 5 Share

From the pages of Surfing World magazine

Bust them out and sound like an all-knowing legend
Illustration by Nanda Ormond


Iconic eyepatch wearer, Jack O’Neill, is credited with pioneering the modern wetsuit, but did you know his son, Pat, invented the legrope? And did you know, while using this legrope, Jack’s board slingshotted back into his face resulting in a lost eye and thus the beginning of his iconic eyepatch? Cue Circle of Life by Elton John.


The ASP World Tour has been in existence since 1976 and in that time only six goofy footers [Tom Carroll X2, Damien Hardman X2, Barton Lynch, Derek Ho, Mark Occhilupo and CJ Hobgood] have won the World Title. The situation is even worse in the Hawaiian Triple Crown where the last goofy to win was Avalon’s Mike Rommelse back in 1997.


Only two surfers have won the ASP World Title without having won an event in the same season. They are Peter Townend in the debut season of 1976 and CJ Hobgood in the reduced season of 2001 [following the September 11 attacks]. It should be noted, PT did win one elite Tour event during his career while CJ has won four.


In 1928, Manly surfer C.J. “Snowy” McAlister won the prestigious Newcastle Titles by performing a headstand from take-off all the way to the sand. He continued to stay upside down parked on the shorey until a judge came over, tapped him on the leg and told him he had won. Snowy also finished 300th in SW’s poll of its 300 most iconic surfers.


Two of the greatest surfers to ever grace our oceans both chose to use their middle monikers as their first names. Kelly Slater and Andy Irons were actually christened Robert Kelly Slater and Philip Andrew Irons. It puts a whole different spin on the Kelly and Andy era when you think of it as the Bob and Phil era, don’t ya think?


11 sets of brothers have competed at the elite level on the  ASP WCT since 1976. They are: Eddie and Clyde Aikau. Shaun and Michael Tomson. Phil and Chris Byrne. Nick and Tom Carroll. Michael and Derek Ho. Flavio and Neco Padaratz. Shea and Cory Lopez. Andy and Bruce Irons. Tim and Nathaniel Curran. Patrick and Tanner Gudauskas.


The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach is more than just a sporting event, it’s a celebration of Australian culture. It’s no surprise then, in 1984 the event’s major sponsor was Aussie pub rock legends Australian Crawl. Fittingly, they played at Torquay Pub after the final and nobody understood a single thing James Reyne was singing.


Many surfers have made bucks in Hollywood. From Duke Kahanamoku who appeared alongside John Wayne, Miki Dora doing stunt work for Gidget, to Matt Archbold in Point Break, Slater and Machado as animated penguins in Surf’s Up and most recently, Laird Hamilton in George Clooney’s The Descendants. No Oscars yet though.


Speaking of the Duke, did you know he was a four-time Olympian? He qualified for the U.S. Olympic Swim Team and won gold in the 100 metre free in 1912. At the 1920 Olympics, he took home gold in the 100


Did you know that every single issue of Surfing World published since 1962 has been carefully archived in the National Library of Australia? Locked away in plastic bags and allowed to be read only with tweezers heated in the flame of a candle, the archive serves as the definitive historical account of surfing in this country. 


They say necessity is the mother of invention, however the near non-existence of the following products makes you wonder how necessary they really were when we all bought them back in the day. Remember… the webbed glove? The nose cone? Full deck grip? Fluro zinc? Special Sauce? Rocket blocks? Wetsuit shorts? Wow.


Surfers have often appeared on the books for massive advertising campaigns. Slater modelled for Versace, Danny Fuller currently struts for Chanel while Steph Gilmore and Mikey Wright are ambassadors for Weet-Bix. But the most lucrative has to be Laird Hamilton at Jaws for Mastercard, a rumoured seven figures slotted into his bank.


Former SW cover star and World Tour competitor, Rod Kerr, is now a famous lifeguard on the reality TV series Bondi Rescue. Other surfers who have gone on to fame and glory on television? Occy on Dancing with the Stars, Slater on Baywatch, Rasta on Sunrise, Steve Clements on Heartbreak High and Layne Beachley on everything else.


SW has run more than 350 covers. Of those only 97 goofy footers have appeared on page one while natural footers have amassed 219. The remainder? Well, two have been boats, 14 were girls looking at line-ups, six were illustrated while only one featured Bob Cooper sitting in a tree. The surfer with the most covers? Nat Young with eight.


Surfers and tattoos go hand in hand. Dane Reynolds has his anchor. Ozzie Wright has his Cuts ‘R’ Cool. Al Knost has his Goons of Doom lyrics. Koby Abberton has his beloved Rabbitohs. Jon Frank has his portrait of Andrew Kidman just above his navel. Doug Lees has his portrait of Jon Frank just under his left nipple. The list goes on.

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