LUKE Egan is another Newcastle surfer whose association with Merewether runs long and deep. He was also a near unanimous pick for second spot on our Top 10 list among the dozen or so surfing identities we consulted in compiling this series.
The son of legendary Newcastle shaper Sam Egan, Luke Egan finished runner-up to Hawaiian Sunny Garcia in the 2000 world championship - one of the four years he finished in the top five.
He contested the world tour across an extraordinary 22 years, winning four contests: G-Land in Java in 1997, Cloudbreak, Fiji, in 2000, Trestles, California in 2002 and Mundaka, Spain, in 2004.
Egan is a power-surfing goofy footer. Trestles was on his backhand. The other three waves are lefts.
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"Louie" was always a threat with a competition singlet on.
He was also a fan favourite in a golden age for surf films - both on the cinema screen and on home video players - in the years before the digital revolution flooded the world with content.
His long-term sponsor was clothing company Billabong, and he shot a lot with expat American filmer Jack McCoy, featuring in such titles as Bunyip Dreaming and Green Iguana alongside fellow Aussie goofy-foot Mark "Occy" Occhilupo, who Egan helped coach to the world title he won in 1999 at 33 after his "wilderness" years off the tour earlier that decade.
He told the Newcastle Herald that he and Occy used to work together even when they were tour rivals, and that a light went on after coaching Joel Parkinson to his world title in 2012.
"I'd been coaching before that for Billabong but after 2012 I thought 'I've got something to offer'.
"All those years as a professional surfer, you keep all that information, and I really enjoy passing that knowledge on.
"It ranges from locations - I've been to these places so many times - through to technique, and board design. I've really done nothing else since I left school!"
Now 52, he lives at Cronulla with wife Jessica Yates of Fox Sports fame, and their eight-year-old Isabella. And they're now a family of four, after their son, Samuel Egan (proudly named after his grandfather), was born on Tuesday, and came home from hospital today, Good Friday.
He's in Newcastle now for the contest, coaching 19-year-old US prodigy Caroline Marks, rookie of the year at #7 in 2018 and #2 in 2019, with 2020 the year that wasn't, for the CT, because of COVID.
Egan is happy to buy into the debate on women's surfing, and says one of his favourite surfers - full stop - was Kim Mearig, another American, who was world champion in 1983.
"There were exceptional surfers then. Wendy Botha, she was so competitive.
"Jodi Couper was with Billabong too. Rell Sun from Hawaii. Pauline Menczer's story is incredible. Every generation they go to the next level."
He singles out Narrabeen's Laura Enever - a WSL commentator at Newcastle - who is turning heads with her big-wave riding.
Talking of her surfing the fearsome WA break called The Right, he says: "I don't even think I'd do that.
"She's a girl half my weight, was at the top of the CT but has gone down another avenue, pushing herself well beyond anyone's comfort zone."
Egan says the fierce competition on tour is driving everyone to new heights.
In a 2016 interview for the WSL he said: "I heard Kelly [Slater] saying the other day that he thinks surfing is like martial arts, in that you have to adapt to different locations, and different elements.
"I really like that aspect of surfing. The athletes just keep getting better and better.
"Like John John [Florence] won the Eddie and he's World No. 1," Egan said, referring to the 2016 running of the seminal big-wave event, the Eddie Aikau Invitational at Waimea Bay.
"To me, that blows me away, the versatility. It's like, what more can these athletes do?"
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