Date of Birth:
30 May 1953
Place of Birth:
20 May 1999
Peter Townend was the first ever World Champion of International Professional Surfing. His amazing feat came seven years after he first picked up a surfboard at 15 fifteen years of age. At 22 he was competing in 20 foot surf at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Hawaii, on the way to a World Title.
Amazingly Peter placed second in every round on the Championship in 1976 and while he didn't win one contest he had enough points to take the world crown. In fact, he became known as the perennial second place getter, a total of 29 in his professional years. But that made him one of the most feared competitors on the circuit, his rivals did not enjoy seeing Peter on their side of the draw knowing they'd have to beat him to progress to be any chance of a finals berth.
Peter didn't have to go far to meet destiny. Born at Bilinga Hospital he lived and grew up in and around Coolangatta. Some of the World's best waves were just down the road at Kirra Point and it was at Kirra and Burleigh that he learned the skills that would eventually give him the edge over the World's best. His biggest influence in those days were his parents, "If you believe in something and are true to yourself, like my mum taught me you can succeed in life."
And that's exactly what Peter did. He is credited with giving surfing a professionalism that the sport didn't enjoy in the early years. Long time friend and fellow World Champion Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholomew says, "Before the days of world rankings Peter used to carry a notebook to all of the International surf contests and rank the surfers and the surf event", smiled Bartholomew, "of course he'd always be ranked number one". At the time of writing Peter Townend is the marketing director of Rusty surf apparel in the United States and runs a surfing program at his home of twenty years, Huntington Beach California.
In 1998 he was inducted into the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame for his devotion to the betterment of sport. He continues to foster the growth and development of surfing and was instrumental in establishing the American National Scholastic Surfing Association, and the American amateur and professional tours.
Peter Townend is a rare combination world champion surfer and successful businessman.
My board is my salvation, I shall not slack,
It maketh me pull into deep barrels, it boosteth huge airs,
It carveth through still waters.
Yeah, although I walk through the valley of the shadow of retail,
I will fear no buyer, for my peace is within; my board and my line, they comfort me.
Surely clean swells, pure glass and fresh powder shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the zone forever.
Peter's version of 23rd Psalm.