Legends of 72 surfing exhibition to showcase breakthrough year in sport

September 3, 2022 BY

Rick Neilsen seen here surfing at Sunset Beach in Hawaii in 1972. Photo: STEVE WILKINGS

A new surfing legends exhibition is set to hit the Australian National Surfing Museum in Torquay this October, as ‘Legends of Surf 72’ takes the community through a nostalgic ride down the tunnel of 1972 and the events that shaped a breakthrough year in surfing.

Legends of Surf 72 marks the 50th anniversary of the legendary 1972 Australian Team and traces their competitive journey from the World Surfing Championships in October to the big wave season in Hawaii in November and December.

The year 1972 witnessed the changeover from amateur competitions and the birth of new professional surfing events that would pave the way towards surfing professionalism.

The exhibition will showcase an array of images that documented the breakthrough surfing year of 1972. Photo: STEVE WILKINGS


The significance of the surf team that comprised 21 surfers, is that 14 members of the legendary team have since been inducted into the Surfing Australia Hall of Fame Awards, a statistic unlikely to ever be repeated.

Organiser Andrew McKinnon, a member of the 72 Team, has collaborated with Curator Karen Neilsen and fellow Australian team member Rod Brooks to jointly bring this engaging story to life.

“We are really excited to be bringing this project to the Australian Surfing Museum in October for what will be an amazing way of celebrating and documenting the great year that 1972 was in terms of changing the way that we all see surfing,” McKinnon said.

“1972 was such an amazing year for surfing, a changing of the guard that pushed a new age of surfers like Simon Anderson, Victorian surfer Gail Couper and Mark Richards who have all gone on to become world surfing heroes.

“It was a whole start of a new generation of Australian surfers who would make their way towards professionalism and it’s amazing that luckily the era was documented very well through amazing photography which will be the key point of the exhibition.”

Exhibition photos have been supplied by famous photographers of the time such as California’s Jeff Divine, Steve Wilkings and Drew Kampion, while personal photos from team members Mark Warren, Peter Townend and Anthony Hardwick will also feature.

Victorian surfer and 5 time Australian surfing champion Gail Couper (right) was a massive part of the 1972 surfing year. Photo: SUPPLIED


McKinnon hopes the images will illustrate the young Australians in their formative year and how the sophomore year of 1972 established so many successful surfing careers.

“It’ll be great to share this somewhat hidden era that really paved the way and set up professional surfing into what it is now!’

People can catch the exhibition from October 29 at the Australian National Surfing Museum in Torquay.


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