Bob McTavish: Under The Influence
Recently Surfing Australia held its annual awards night at Star City Casino in Sydney. As it was their 50th anniversary Surfing Australia rolled out the finery and marked the milestone with a special presentation, 'Australia's Ten Most Influential Surfers.' The list was to recognise those who, through their surfing, and their wider contribution, have had the most profound influence on the national character of Australian surfing.
Bob McTavish was deemed Australia's tenth most influential surfer, and, as they were announced in reverse order, he was the first to accept his award. Bob began his speech by opening up on an old topic: Is surfing a sport or an art? He went on to explain that the difference is sport is measurable, art is not. He noted that Surfing Australia had taken care of the sport side of surfing rather well, but he favours that which is immeasurable - the art of surfing.
As the speech progressed it felt like we were heading toward an awkward faux pas, a black mark on a black tie night, yet Bob pulled back from the precipice with good grace and a glowing smile. He noted that seven of the ten surfers were world champs and that put him in good surfing company.
Following the awards night I approached Bob and asked him about the award. I then hit him up with an idea: Tell me your ten most influential surfers; the Australian surfers that he, Bob McTavish, thought deserved the gongs.
Bob treated the matter with utmost gravity, even flying off to the Telos Islands to get lost in thought. I admired his dedication to the project. After a week of thinking it over this is what he came back with - Bob McTavish's Ten Most Influential Surfers:
"I'm amazed Bob Evans didn't get a mention," said McTavish, "Ridiculous! He started the movement of 'free' surfing, rather than the institutional SLSC style of surfing. He created the first real mag that kept going, the first surf movies, the first coastal searcher with a hot crew, the first World Title organiser...crazy!"
After Bob Evans there's a mix and they're in no particular order:
3. Myself - I've gotta get in somewhere!
4. George Greenough - He's been naturalised twenty years.
5. Rabbit Bartholemew - For setting the early pro template.
6. Occy - Aussie hero.
7. Kong - Smash that lip!
8. Midget Farrelly - 60's hero
9.Tom Carroll - Animal attack
10. Simon Anderson - Power on three fins.
10. Wayne Lynch - The first goofy to equal the score and liberate the goofies. He's more important than some others in my top ten.
Bob signed off his special list with a quote that summed up his Surfing Australia speech: "All surfers identify with the unmeasurable, the art of surfing. Only a chunk of surfers identify with the sport of surfing."
Postscript: Sharp-eyed readers will note there's eleven surfers in Bob's top ten. Those same readers should also note Bob said art was immeasureable.