PICKING the Hunter's best 10 men surfers by definition means leaving a litter of names on the cutting-room floor. Ditto for the women, even though it's taken time for their numbers in the water to build, and we crammed 14 names into our "top 10".
Merewether's Marty McMillan, who won the 1991 world longboard championship, was in the men's top 10 mix from the start.
Another two surfers from the dominant Merewether Surfboard Club were just out of the top 10 when the points were tallied: Chad Edser and Simon Law. Edser, now 47, was world junior champion in 1992.
He told the Herald for this series that a medial ligament knee injury in the surf in Victoria near the Twelve Apostles soon after that world championship cruelled his career.
"I had what was supposed to be ground-breaking surgery but it was two years before I could get back into the water, not two weeks, and by then everything passed me by." he said.
ALL OUR SURFING COVERAGE: OUR TOP 10s and the WSL
Simon Law, who joined from Stockton, surfed more than 100 CT events from 1988 deep into the 1990s, with a best finish of #19 in 1993.
His Tsunami Surfer shop in Nelson Bay is named for the 1994 tsunami that hit G-Land in Java when "The Law" and other Newcastle surfers were there.
Merewether's dominance of Hunter surfing can rankle from time to time. The club is accused of poaching good surfers.
But emerging surfers will want to join the club, knowing if they can make it at Merewether, they can make it anywhere.
We reported that rivalry in a piece by Neil Jameson celebrating the club's 50th birthday.
Mort Britz, who recalls surfing two Beaurepaires Open pro contests at Cronulla in the early 1980s, was a Cooks Hill boy who surfed for Bar Reef Boardriders and Cliff Area Boardriders Club, and had a short stint with Merewether.
He savours a Cliff club victory over Merewether in a state teams competition as an example of the inter-club rivalry.
In the late '70s and early '80s, another Cooks Hill lad, Billy McIntosh, ruled the roost at Bar Reef when he wasn't at Seal Rocks. Merewether - at the other end of "the stretch" - was a long way away.
Terry McKenna, who helped prepare this series, is a former state titleholder who arrived at Fingal Bay with his parents as a teenager and who has spent his life in the surfing industry ever since, commentating, managing and promoting the lifestyle he loves.
Women's surfing is exploding in popularity right now, and you'll see young women at every beach attacking the waves as aggressively as the boys.
Prominent among them is Madison "Madie" Poole, whose Qualifying Series (QS ranking has gone from #408 in 2017 to #67 this year on the Australia/Oceania QS.
Their progress is deeply satisfying to another of our judges, Redhead firefighter Michelle Kent, who formed the Trimmen' Women group in the 2000s to encourage women's surfing.
"It's great to see things take off the way they are," Kent said.
"It took a while but its only going to get better."
Every beach along the coast, in all of the eras, will have a local charger who everyone looks up to and knows is a notch above the others: sometimes a good few notches.
BACK IN TIME:
Professional sport is a road paved with sacrifice, and with the bodies of those who tried, but for whatever reason, didn't realise their dreams.
Not all great surfers stick with the waves, but the thrill of racing across water can be an addictive pursuit.
For most of us, it's a joy and a pleasure. For those who surf professionally, it's their living, with a lot riding on it.
And for those who chase the moving mountains that are the chosen playing field of big wave surfing, it can literally be a matter of life and death.
We hope you've enjoyed reading our Hunter's Best Surfers series. We've certainly enjoyed producing it.
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