Archival collection of photos, press clippings and 70’s surfboards
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 20 November, 2014 - The Sons of Beaches exhibition is a flashback story of a young untested Australian Team heading to the San Diego, California for the World Surfing Championships in September 1972. Surfing was at the cross roads of amateur and professionalism. This unique look at the early 70’s will be on display, admission free at the Redcliffe Museum, Moreton Bay from 28th November, 2014 to 1st of February, 2015.
Producers Glen Blight and partner Leigh Fabian have illustrated Peter Townend’s archival collection of photos, press clippings and 70’s surfboards to paint the picture of this colourful and controversial period.
At that time the Vietnam War was in full flight with young Australians facing the call-up, such as Australian team member Mark Warren who was given special dispensation to compete rather than fight. Victorian surfing legend Wayne Lynch who was a forced draft dodger was not so lucky hiding out in the hills of Northern NSW until November 1972 when Gough Whitlam’s Labour party strode into power after 23 years in the wilderness and withdrew Australia from a very unpopular war.
Sons of Beaches is a sublimal period in surfing before leg ropes, using single fins and a sports image that was tarnished by the perception that most surfers were dropout dope smokers who had broken away from mainstream society.
“The fact is, this was a pretty special time for all of us straight and non-straight, ‘said Australian Team member Andrew McKinnon who at 19 years of age was excited about representing his country like the rest of the team and the prospects of shooting for a World title. McKinnon now known in the surfing media as Andy Mac, placed 6th overall.
PT or known as Peter Townend, the Coolangatta Kid, was Australia’s best result placing third behind Californian cult hero David Nuiihwa who was runner-up to eventual World Champion Jimmy Blears of Hawaii. The Hawaiian Team had a 16 year old Larry Bertleman (4th), 14 year old Michael Ho (5th) who would later turn into super surf heroes. Their female member Sharon Webber won the Women’s World title to give the Hawaiians the World Teams title.
Most of the Australian Team were experiencing their first time overseas. From the grommet, Mark “MR” Richards (age 16) to the seasoned Terry Fitzgerald (age 22), the New Young Aussies were led by the President of the ASA Stan Couper (Australian Surfriders Association) now Surfing Australia, managed by Rod Brooks and jointly judged by Rip Curl Co-Owner Doug “Claw” Warbrick and Terry Baker.
The Team featured Australian open men’s champion Michael “MP” Peterson, Peter “PT” Townend, Paul & Ricky Neilsen, Grant “Dappa” Oliver, Mark Warren, Andrew McKinnon, Ian “Kanga” Cairns, Terry Fitzgerald, Col Smith, Tony “Wicka” Hardwick, Juniors were Simon Anderson, Mark “MR” Richards and Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew as reserve. Women reps were Gail Couper who placed 3rd and Misha Mueller.
Most of the above would become Australian household names and determine the future direction of World Pro surfing and exert profound influence.
In a way San Diego was a dress rehearsal for their stellar careers that would inevitably follow down the track of a brand new age of professionalism
Sons of Beaches Exhibition rides an intoxicating wave of nostalgia during this transitionary period in the history of surfing. Its vibrancy & youthfulness is brought back to life by by a combination of art and film collaboration thanks to the incredibly artistic talents of Glen Blight, Leigh Fabian and Peter Townend.
The Redcliffe Museum, 75 Anzac Avenue, Redcliffe QLD 4020
Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm, Closed Public Holidays