Spring Equinox - Wayne Murphy
Equinox today. A time of change, a marker in every surfer's calendar year.The Australian Titles at Margaret River in 1969 were held in May.
Deep autumn for surfers in southwest WA means several things. The earth’s orbit around the sun has crossed the celestial equator, so the heat of summer has gone. There are no more blustery sea breezes arriving before lunchtime to cool the land and spoil waves with choppy conditions.
Late autumn also means the roaring forties are coming alive with intense storms in the Southern Ocean which, in turn, send bigger swells towards Margaret River. The ten-day event in May 1969 was blessed with big swells in ideal conditions and offshore breezes most of the comp. Surf International magazine called it the best contest in the world.
The first round was held in thumping beach break waves at Scarborough Beach in Perth. Nat Young and Queensland’s Peter Drouyn dominated the open division while Wayne Lynch continued as the standout in the juniors. The event moved down south for the remainder of the contest. Competitors were greeted at Margaret River with the first of a series of large, pulsating swells. Many of the eastern state surfers had never ridden over reefs, or waves of that size. The surf broke powerfully at eight to twelve feet for the rest of the week. The WA team was expecting Ian Cairns to do well at Margaret River because he was competing on his home break in big surf. The enthusiastic young West Aussie thought the same.
Ian was brimming with confidence. As well as the advantage of surfing in the arena he knew well, he was also riding a new rounded pin tail Midget Farrelly shaped for him. At the previous Australian Titles in Sydney, most surfers were riding their wide v-bottom boards. Now, just one year later, everyone was on narrower designs with pointier noses and tails. Ian’s new board was 7’6” and full of foam with additional nose lift. It was well suited for late take offs then charging off the bottom into the waves. Though he hadn’t performed as well as he would have liked at Scarborough, Ian rocketed into contention in the next round at Margaret River. In the junior division, Wayne Lynch was wowing the judges and spectators while speeding along the thick walling lefts. The reigning champ was slicing open the wave faces with beautifully linked turns. Ian was the other standout performer with some high risk power surfing that grabbed everyone’s attention. He finished second in that round, beating David “Baddy” Treloar from NSW while coming as close as anyone ever had to eclipsing Wayne. Ian’s display enhanced his growing reputation at national level while securing a place in the junior final. His Yallingup mentor Peter Bothwell surfed well too and made the open final. They were the first West Aussies to have ever reached the finals at any Australian Championship. It was a proud moment for WA surfing.
WAYNE LYNCH – I was focused on surfing well in bigger waves at Margaret River. I had been hearing more about Kanga’s surfing before we went across. In the junior division we all got on really well. There was never the intense rivalry or discord among the juniors like there was in the open division. We were a very affable group pleased to see each other surfing good and doing well in the comps. That really intense competitiveness was more obvious in the open ranks. I used to think it was actually restrictive to your surfing because it was overly competitive. And people were actually saying to us at Margaret River, that it was us juniors they liked to watch more, because they were seeing things happening on the waves which they didn’t expect. In other words, our surfing was a little more spontaneous and free flowing. We were prepared to take a few more risks. Kanga was certainly the standout at Margaret River. I could see aspects in his surfing like Baddy Treloar with their very powerful turns. Even though Kanga’s weren’t yet refined, there was still something quite unique about them.
IAN - Nat Young was by far and away the dominant surfer of the entire event. He was absolutely ripping. Peter Drouyn was outstanding too. He finished second ahead of Richard Harvey from Burleigh Heads. In the junior final I made the mistake of sitting out the back waiting for bombs. Wayne was surfing Main Break like it was his home break. He was so in tune. He won the Aussie title again ahead of Baddy Treloar and Butch Cooney. I finished in fourth place and was a bit disappointed. They moved the finals to Yallingup. It was perfect, but the wind swung northwest and it got blown out.
There are lots more pioneering West Aussie surf stories in Ian's book Kanga. You can order here on the website. Thanks for your time. Stay salty. Go surf. Enjoy. Cheers.