Home' Hunter Its People : Hunter-Glory Days June 2012 Contents From a Networking Breakfast to a
full Conference, we have it covered.
• Ample parking
• 5 to 300 Delegates
• Well equipped Facilities
• Catering to suit your needs
• Free Room Hire (cond. apply)
• Great Food and Drink Prices
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• Themed Rooms
• Dedicated Party Coordinator
• Everything you need for the
perfect Wedding Reception
for only $75.00 per person
• “All the Trimmings”
without the big price tag
uth Newcastle Rugby League Club Ltd.
46 Llewellyn Street Merewether
Ph: (02) 4902 7600
Call Stacie on 4902 7600 or e-mail
[ GLORY DAYS ]
MARK RICHARDS’S FIRST WORLD SURFING
TITLE: DECEMBER, 1979
When Mark Richards set off for Hawaii in October, 1979,
chasing the world surﬁng title, his hopes had pretty
much been dashed by the elimination of one of the
three major contests in the islands.
That left the Wounded Seagull – nicknamed because
of his tall physique, wing-like arms and upturned hands
– standing fourth in the world ratings, 1000 points
behind Australian Wayne Bartholomew, then Cheyne
Horan and Hawaiian Dane Kealoha, with only two
events, the Pipeline Masters and the World Cup, to peg
back the lead. It seemed impossible.
Richards had been about 2000 points ahead of his
rivals after the Australian and Japanese legs of the
world tour, but decided not to surf the South African
and US legs and was caught, then passed.
Richards ﬁnished fourth at Pipeline, but Kealoha
ﬁnished ahead of him and was title favourite in the run
up to the Duke Kahanamoku Classic and World Cup.
But Richards was unstoppable. After winning the
classic he beat fellow Australian Peter Townend in the
man-on-man ﬁnal of the World Cup at Haleiwa Beach,
and as his major competitors fell by the wayside he
found himself the 1979 world surﬁng champion.
Richards had been defacto champion in 1975/76
when he won the Smirnoff World Pro/Am Surﬁng
Championship – the implied world title at the time – at
Waimea and the World Cup at Sunset, earning $9000,
a sum unheard of for surfers at that time.
Richards went on to win the title again in 1980, the
ﬁrst man to win back-to-back titles, and again in ‘81 and
‘82, although before the start of the 1982 season he
put the vacancy sign on the title, saying three times in
a row was enough and the “magical number” for him.
To win in 1981 he had to travel the entire circuit which
included Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil and
Hawaii, whereas in previous years he had only travelled
to countries and events he liked. He felt it necessary to
do the entire circuit in 1981 to increase his chances of
“When I won the title in 1979, I had never really set
out to win it,” he said. “I surfed in the contests that I
wanted to surf in and there was not much travelling
“This year (1982) I am going to do the same thing.
I will only surf in the Australian and Hawaiian events
and I will spend more time in Newcastle shaping and
But in December, 1982, he won his fourth title
anyway, when he ﬁnished second to Tom Carroll in the
Sunkist Cup, the ﬁnal event on the Hawaii pro tour.
“There is a time in your life when you’ve got to stop,”
he said after that victory. “It’s easy to go surﬁng, but
to push yourself continually is hard. I don’t feel I can do
the whole circuit. I can’t handle it anymore.
“Chasing a world crown requires 100 per cent
dedication and lots of sacriﬁces. I would have to go on
a really intensive training program. I don’t want to do
that – I’m lazy.”
Shortly after winning his fourth title Richards went
into semi-retirement, caused by increasing back
problems and his disenchantment with the travelling
At the time he was considered the greatest surfer
of all time, regarded with awe at beaches around
the planet. As well as his world titles he won events
such as the 1976 2SM/Coca Cola Surfabout – at the
time the richest event on the surﬁng tour – four Bells
Beach titles (three in succession, 1978-1980), the 1979
Stubbies Classic and Rip Curl Classic, the 1980 Gunston
500 and Pipeline Masters. In all he won more than 20
major professional and more than 15 grand prix titles.
In semi-retirement he won the 1985 and ‘86
Billabong Pros in Hawaii, the latter when giant 10-metre
waves smashed Waimea Bay and some surfers refused
to even paddle out, and in 2001 he returned to claim
victory in the World Masters Championships over-40
division in Ireland.
The boy who was surﬁng at age six at his local
Merewether Beach has collected three Newcastle
Sportsman of the Year awards, life membership of
Merewether Board Club, been installed in the Australian
Sporting Hall of Fame, Australian Surﬁng Hall of Fame
and Huntington Beach Surﬁng Walk of Fame, been voted
surfer of the year three times in succession by readers
of Surfer magazine, been the ﬁrst surfer to star in the “I
feel like a Tooheys” commercials, been awarded an OAM
for services to surﬁng, received an Australian Sport
Medal and an honourary doctorate from the University
25. Riding wave
The unmistakable style of Mark Richards in his world champion days, and his surﬁng start as a toddler.
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