Surf's up as Australian greats are honoured

Top dog: Mark Richards in action.
Top dog: Mark Richards in action.

THERE is an Animal and a Midget, a Rabbit and a Raging Bull. There are dark horses and household names, and the odd bolt from the blue. A list of Australia's 10 most influential surfers (1963 to 2013), unveiled on Wednesday night at a special Surfing Australia awards ceremony, has provided a snapshot of and tribute to the country's surfing heritage.

''It's the first time we've done this,'' Surfing Australia CEO Andrew Stark said. ''It's the 50th anniversary of Surfing Australia this year, and so we thought it was important that we recognise the sport's legends and historic figures.''

Compiled via a public poll and votes provided by the 34 Australian Surfing Hall of Fame inductees, the list features some familiar names, including, in fifth spot, Bernard ''Midget'' Farrelly, who was Australia's first surfing world champion, and, in No. 1 spot, Mark Richards.

''MR is an obvious one,'' says Stark, ''not only because of his four world titles and his work with the twin fin but for the way he carried himself as a surfing ambassador and became a household name.''

In second place is Simon Anderson, the soft-spoken design guru whose invention of the Thruster (or three-finned surfboard) in 1980 proved a game-changer for modern surfing. ''Ninety per cent of the world's 10 million surfers ride Thrusters today,'' Stark says.

Then there's Robert ''Nat'' Young, aka ''The Animal'' (in third spot), a lanky, outspoken figure feted as much for his pioneering aggression as for his five books on surfing and surf culture.

Some names will be more familiar than others: Mark ''Raging Bull'' Occhilupo, for instance, who comes in at ninth. Seven-time women's world champion Layne Beachely also makes an appearance (at seven), as does Wayne ''Rabbit'' Bartholomew in eighth spot.

This story Surf's up as Australian greats are honoured first appeared on Brisbane Times.