Any poll of Newcastle surfing greats can only end in one place, with the incomparable Mark Richards.
He's the top of everybody's lists.
Certainly, for his four straight world titles from 1979 to 1982, but also for the way he's lived his life as an ambassador for surfing.
A man respected around the world, in and out of the water, and a surfer that his peers say has done more than anyone or anything to put Newcastle on the surfing map.
But more on that later.
THE HUNTER'S BEST SURFERS, COUNTING DOWN:
- Ten point rides: Newcastle's best surfers across the decades
- 'Girls can't surf?' Yes they can. And how
- Boardriding brilliance on the bus from Wallsend: Kelly Bashford
- Longer hair, shorter boards: Peter Cornish
- 'Radical Roger' Clements, with rare 1968 video footage
- Opposite ends: Smooth Belinda Baggs and the frantic Sabre Norris
- The impossibly stylish Craig Anderson
- Paige Haggerston: Aussie champ at 17
- The tropical life of Peter McCabe
- Merewether pioneers Pam Lane, Nancy Newburn and Judy Clements
- Young guns Amelie Bourke and Ellie Lambkin
- Revered at Redhead: 'the other' Col Smith
- Bells Beach winner at 16: Nicky Wood
- Elle Clayton-Brown riding the WQS table
- Hell-raiser, Bells winner, Matt Hoy
- Sarah Baum finds a new home in Newcastle
- Hometown Newcastle Cup favourite Ryan Callinan
- 'Out', loud and proud: Michelle Donoghue from Blacksmiths
- Luke Egan, new dad, sought after CT coach and 18-year tour veteran
- Newcastle's woman 'wild card' at the Newcastle Cup, Philippa Anderson
Richards's career achievements are so numerous - and so frequently recounted - that even a brief recap would take all of our space.
Among many accolades came a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1994 - making him Mark Richards OAM.
He's had more column centimetres devoted to him than just about any other surfer, the great Kelly Slater aside. But even Slater, with 11 world titles under his belt, could not manage four straight like our Mark.
His crinkled features are as instantly recognisable as the unique stance that had surf journalist Phil Jarratt nickname him, unflatteringly, the Wounded Seagull. It stuck for years.
His story was told in detail in an authorised biography, Mark Richards A Surfing Legend in 1992, and he recollects his first world title in today's Weekender cover story - A Pipe Dream Come True.
Older sporting heroes can remain fixated on things "back in the day" but the evidence from this series is that many of our surfing rock stars are still out in the water and charging like men and women possessed!
MR turned 64 in March and is no exception.
His Instagram feed is a cavalcade of past and present achievements, and if there's one surfing development that Mark is really frothing about right now, it's wave pools.
The Newcastle Herald caught up with Mark after his first visit to Kelly Slater's Surf Ranch at Leemore, 160 kilometres from the Californian coast, in September 2017.
He's been back twice since then, and loves it.
"I wish someone would build one here!" he says. And he's serious.
"People say: 'Doesn't it get boring?' No, it doesn't.
"It's a challenge. Kelly didn't design a user-friendly wave.
"It changes depending on the wind. I've never seen so many pro surfers so excited!
"I hope I see the day they build one here - if I'm still upright! I'll be a pool groupie, hanging around for sure!"
The repeated perfection of artificial waves recall the groomed perfection of winter surf in Indonesia. Mark was synonymous with fearless surfing in Hawaii, but Indonesia was never really his thing.
When I asked him why, he said: "I like going right".
It was a reference to Indo's waves being predominantly left-handers, courtesy of the archipelago's south-east to north-west orientation.
A more compelling reason, he acknowledged, was a justifiable fear of malaria - a hazard of surfing the region that is still killing visitors and locals alike today.
Mark has lived for years at the same address overlooking his beloved Merewether beach.
He and wife Jenny have raised three children - Kyle, Nathan and Grace.
In 1989, their second son, Beau, died at two months of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS.
The couple became the public faces of SIDS advocacy in the Hunter and beyond, raising large amounts of money for medical research and public health campaigns.
Three decades later, Jenny says it was "a very significant thing that changed our lives".
"Going through something like that changes your outlook on life," she says.
"We've stepped back from that now. Other people are doing a good job.
"But for all of the heartbreak it entailed, we think ourselves fortunate to have been involved with the SIDS campaigns, for what they achieved in saving other lives."
With the World Surf League roadshow in town, Mark can watch the action from his balcony.
He'll no doubt remember his time in a contest singlet - or a rash-shirt, nowadays - while the throng of spectators crowd the contest site, wondering if the home-beach hero will put in an appearance.
All these years later, MR-watching is still a popular Merewether pastime.
Plenty of people have told me in compiling this series that MR virtually single-handedly put Newcastle "on the surfing map".
Richards accepts his influence, but gives characteristic credit to others, including his junior rival turned Indonesian tube pioneer Peter McCabe.
But one thing is for sure.
The boy whose first tiny waves at Blacksmiths led him to conquer the mountains of Waimea is undoubtedly our Greatest Of All Time.
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