WE start our look back at ten - or so - great Hunter coast boardriders with Merewether legend Peter Cornish.
Merewether Point is a right-hand break suiting natural-foot surfers riding left foot forward, but Cornish was a goofy footer, meaning he was on his forehand in lefts, or with back to the wave at Merewether.
But either way, Cornish was a standout.
THE STORY SO FAR:
At 70, and living with his wife Kath and son Jack at Dudley, Cornish says his sporting pursuits nowadays are bowls and golf, but he follows the surfing scene closely, and is "envious of the guys surfing today - they are so damn good".
They are also paid for what they do, which wasn't the case in Cornish's day.
"The more money the better, I reckon," Cornish says, after recounting how he ran away from home to live in the attic of a house in Queenscliff, "living on weetbix and milk for three weeks", to compete in a national titles.
As our photographs show, Cornish was there for the shortboard revolution that saw surfing go from malibus to the forerunners of today's high-performance shapes.
In a 1988 history of the Merewether Surfboard Club, journalist David Knox writes of Cornish as a protege of early club legend Jim Newburn, who Cornish rates "as the best of the early guys".
"Cornish went on to be Newcastle's leading surfer of the late 1960s an early 1970s. He was lithe and deft with a beautiful flowing style that was both state of the art and timeless," Knox wrote.
"Paradoxically, he led a new generation, yet his surfing eschewed the excesses of the so-called 'animal era'. Peter's transition from long boards to short boards was as smooth as the fluent way he linked radical manoeuvres to form a complete ride that completed the wave."
Knox's wrote of the injustice done to Cornish at the 1970 world championships at Bells Beach in Victoria, when he was left out of the Australian team led by Victorian legend Wayne Lynch. Knox says the Aussie officials wanted a natural footer. Lynch was a goofy, and ironically, another right-foot forward surfer, California's Ralph Aurness, won the championship.
Cornish said yesterday that it was "disgusting".
"I'd won five out of six competitions and was number one in Australia but the team was picked by Victorians."
Cornish says he drifted out of competitive surfing because he was sick of "the stress of surfing crap waves in freezing conditions".
He had moved to Sydney to be recognised "because if you didn't come from there, you didn't exist".
"I was shaping for Sam Egan but I had to leave him to go to Keyo and surf for Manly Pacific," he says.
"Newcastle was a place you drove past in those days. Although I brought a lot of people up here. Neil Purchase Snr became a good mate, Bob McTavish, Terry Fitzgerald, (the late David) 'Baddy' Treloar, I showed all of them around."
He started surfing in 1962 and says on his first trip to Treachery Beach at Seal Rocks in about 1966 they were in a 1929 Chevy "with two blokes on the mudguard with machetes to cut a track through the bush".
And he was one of the first into Bali in the mid-70s, "when there was just Kuta Road and a track into Legian".
Cornish says there aren't that many photos of him from that period, but one trove of images, which we have used with the courtesy of photographer Ric Chan, date from those Treachery days in 1968.
Chan, a New Zealander, became a noted surf photographer, and these images resurfaced online last year in a blog called Surfing Down South.
Remembering the trips they took, Chan said: "Hotties that I travelled with on the Magic Bus Tour in my Gold Kombi around that time were Neil Purchase, David 'Baddy' Treloar, Peter Cornish, Ron Ross, Wayne Williams, Wayne Smith, Jack Knight, John Henneberry, Lane Habib, among others.
"My memory is terrible, so much, nearly all of the stuff I did back then is washed away," Chan said.
"But I do recall some good times with Newcastle goofy footer Peter Cornish at Treachery Beach on the Mid North Coast of NSW. He ripped because he just wanted too!"
Cornish recalled summer days with perfect waves, and a girlfriend at the time - who he said worked at the Newcastle Herald - named Annette Forsythe. That's the two of them here.
- Note: Surfing knows two Peter Cornishes. Both are about the same age, and Peter says they never really knew each other. The "other" Peter Cornish hails from Crescent Head, and was also a surfboard shaper. Judging by some of the labelling of online images, the two are occasionally confused with each other.
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