On this day: 17-year old MR surfs Waimea Bay closing out

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

28th November, 1974:

The 1974 Smirnoff Pro saw many great backstories collide in a monumental sporting event. It was the birth of professionalism with prizemoney factored against surfer safety, plus the TV networks were filming and Fred Hemmings didn't want to miss the moment, meanwhile the young Australians and South Africans were coming on hot, while the Hawaiians were yet to win a Smirnoff title leaving local pride wanting.

Lastly, of course, were the waves. "That was the biggest I'd ever seen surf. The biggest." Barry Kanaiaupuni told Sam George in a story on Surfline. "It was huge. I mean, we weren't on the beach, we were on the grass and whitewater comes up and gets us all wet."

Amongst all this energy and unfolding history a gangly 17-year old from Newcastle sullied forth...

This video is part of Australian National Surf Museum's Oral History Program.

PS: Reno Abellira won the Smirnoff that year, the first Hawaiian to take the title in what were considered the largest waves in a contest to date.

Comments

Anthony Pancia's picture
Anthony Pancia's picture
Anthony Pancia commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 5:19pm

Gold.

maddogmorley's picture
maddogmorley's picture
maddogmorley commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 6:21pm

Ditto. Would love to see some footage of his waves.

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 9:18pm

MR would have to be the most relaxed down to earth legend in surfing. He comes across as so honest and seems like the nicest guy.

knB

deckstrus's picture
deckstrus's picture
deckstrus commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 11:12pm

great interview that's awesome

deckstrus's picture
deckstrus's picture
deckstrus commented Tuesday, 28 Nov 2017 at 11:14pm
toosha's picture
toosha's picture
toosha commented Wednesday, 29 Nov 2017 at 12:20pm

Thanks deckstrus

deckstrus's picture
deckstrus's picture
deckstrus commented Wednesday, 29 Nov 2017 at 8:15pm

np. cheers

inzider's picture
inzider's picture
inzider commented Wednesday, 29 Nov 2017 at 10:20am

How the fuck anyone could paddle out into 30 ft waves wearing that pink set up is beyond me.
Fucking legend story
Very cool bit of surf history

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Thursday, 30 Nov 2017 at 4:29pm

Remember back in the day when Tracks had the International MR day. I think they even had an MR mask to wear as well. He was my hero back then. Still is now.

Smitdoggie's picture
Smitdoggie's picture
Smitdoggie commented Thursday, 30 Nov 2017 at 7:17pm

Certainly my hero growing up as a grom. My first board was a 5.10 MR twinnie. Wish I still had it. Very fortunate to meet the great man briefly in Padang about 12 years ago after a Ments trip. Couldn't believe I got to talk to him and he was really friendly. Equal to meeting the great DK Lillee for me - stoked on both fronts.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Friday, 1 Dec 2017 at 5:07am

I'm a bit of a cricket tragic as well. I can't say I've met any great cricketers, but I've seen a few in action over the years. The highlights for me would be Richard Hadlee, Viv Richards, Michael Holding, Martin Crowe, Shane Warne, Alan Border, Sachin Tendulkar, Muttiah Muralitharan, Wasim Akram, Imran Khan, Jacques Kallis, and Ian Botham. But I digress...

owgoodaquads's picture
owgoodaquads's picture
owgoodaquads commented Friday, 1 Dec 2017 at 7:01am

And the best thing about MR, you can still walk into the shop (granted, it's not Richards Surf Shop anymore) and get a custom off him. Just picked one up a while back. Unreal.

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 11:19pm

Cool, what is it? Thruster, twinny, concave, convex, nose up, nose down.

I want a 6'8.

owgoodaquads's picture
owgoodaquads's picture
owgoodaquads commented Saturday, 9 Dec 2017 at 10:10am

I've had a few Super Twins over the years but got a Lone Ranger model. Went with a round tail and a 5 fin boxes. Got the width and thickness up to keep my large self afloat (21 1/2 and 2 7/8). Working a treat, just feels good.

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Thursday, 30 Nov 2017 at 4:50pm

That was classic.

Finntim's picture
Finntim's picture
Finntim commented Thursday, 30 Nov 2017 at 8:50pm

MR, so humble and understated, what a champion. 17! I would have worn the brown boardies! Props to rabbit too, also legend.

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Wednesday, 6 Dec 2017 at 12:57am

He wasn't humbled and understated, for fucksake, did you just read/ watch this shit/

mredhill's picture
mredhill's picture
mredhill commented Friday, 1 Dec 2017 at 9:23am

In '78 my mates pitched in for my 21st and I got a 6'8" MR Rocket Fish twin. Driving up to Newie I think I was more nervous at the thought of coming face to face with MR than I was excited about the new board but , like everyone says, he was just an absolute legend. That board went everywhere, up & down the east coast, Indo, Sri Lanka & Europe before it met it's maker in 6' Thurso. Would probably be worth $5,000 now!

PeteH's picture
PeteH's picture
PeteH commented Friday, 1 Dec 2017 at 9:40am

Priceless, he tells the story so well and had me chuckling when he talks about his Mum! Used to see her also working in the shop on Hunter Street.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Friday, 1 Dec 2017 at 2:00pm

Yep legend. He was the odd man out back in those days as he wasn't on Coke (maybe the drink) or any other substance. My hero as grom as well and normal when you consider some of the extreme characters back in those days. Still remember floating around at Broken Head and he popped up next to me. Star struck.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Friday, 1 Dec 2017 at 3:09pm

Could be time to bring back The International MR Day!

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 11:03pm

I remember seeing a Hawaiian Surfer do a double backdoor of Sunset. I suppose that is like winning lotto.

Mort's picture
Mort's picture
Mort commented Tuesday, 5 Dec 2017 at 11:09pm

Lookout Burleigh, Fiftieth, it will be a comp of sorts.

Finntim's picture
Finntim's picture
Finntim commented Thursday, 7 Dec 2017 at 6:58pm

Easy Mort! I didnt mean that MR was humbled by The Bay, far from it . My point was that his attitude and demeanor in retelling the story was humble and understated, characteristics of a true champion. His performance was epic in every sense and there doesnt seem to be an ounce of ego attached to anything that he has achieved in his life, which is plenty. Peace

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Friday, 8 Dec 2017 at 2:44pm

Part of the reason MR is so popular is his unique style. It's an unusual style but it's so pleasing to the eye. I can't think of anyone on the current tour who has a style that stands out the same way. The only guy who's exciting me at the moment is Michael February, and unfortunately he didn't make it on.
Personally I think style should factor in to the scoring system at least a bit, in that if two surfers do the same manoeuvre, the one with he better style should be scored higher. Fairly subjective I know, but so is something like "flow".