MP's Kirra Paddle Out & Tribute from Andy Mac
Author: Tracks Magazine
The tributes, accolades and flowers for Michael Peterson’s much celebrated life continue to pour in to the Peterson Tweed Heads home from all over the surfing world and rightly so. Known as MP, Reg or the Mad Monk, Michael has a certain mystic almost messiah presence that kept most people guessing of who he really was.
ASP world tour surfer Bede Durbidge was there at Kirra to pay his respects (among many others). Pic: Swilly
Undoubtedly he was one of the best surfers to evolve from the Coolangatta era of the golden seventies. MP was gifted athlete; he was a super swimmer and super nipper before he entered surf comps as well as proficient with his hands! Together with younger brother Tommy they would build model aeroplanes together which would later develop into board making skills. Tweed Heads first surfing pioneer and surfboard manufacturer Joe Larkin was instrumental in helping Michael to shape surfboards with his number one shaper the late Brian “Furry” Austin.
Michael's rock – his mother Joan. Pic: Swilly
The Miles Street Factory was a stone’s throw from Kirra Point where Michael would dominate with his intimate knowledge of tuberiding. Both MP and fellow Coolangatta friend and rival PT Peter Townend
were Joe’s factory apprentices and the competition between both went from the factory to the Point to see who could be better. It was a healthy rivalry nurtured by Joe who on one particular surf trip had to break up an argument between the two when MP managed to rub vasoline over PT’s board. There are many stories about those colourful days at Joe Larkin’s which came out at Joe’s night at the Surf World Surf Museum, Currumbin on the Wednesday night prior to Michael service on Thursday 5th April 11.30am at the Tweed Crematorium.
Michael Peterson at Kirra Point Pic: Dick Hoole
I have a lot of great memories of growing up and competing with Michael and his younger brother Tommy.
We all ended up at Miami High School where MP would be as cagey as ever darting in and around the buildings without saying much while Tommy would let me know what the latest was with his fast improving super talented surfing brother which he always warmly referred to as Mick. Tommy knew Michael better than anyone and was his sounding board on all matters. Initially we were bitter rivals I was from the toffy Northern Beaches and they were from the Cooly hood both hurling abuse at me we I came down to surf at Greenmount. Firstly I became good friends with Tommy and then when I didn’t present myself as a threat competitively to Michael we all got on famously, as well as Joan Peterson who was like a Mum to all of us.
MP's sister Dot and friend and family friend Kelly Slater. Pic: Swilly
One thing Michael did was to shun the limelight although he loved watching movies of himself analyzing his style and how to improve the advanced technique that he inherited from Nat Young his mentor. Michael’s room had wall to wall posters of Nat. In 1971 he started traveling down to Lennox Head reveling in the pristine winter south swells with biting southwest winds. Nat was still living in the area on a farm as depicted in the Morning of the Earth movie. Both were the stars of MOTE together with David Trelor
, Chris Brock
, Stephen Cooney and Rusty Miller. By 1972 MP won the Qld State titles for the second year in a row and went on to Sydney
to win his first of two National titles. I shared a room with MP and PT at the notorious San Diego World titles, may as well have been called the World Party titles, it was too much for PT who checked into another room and Rabbit gladly took his place! Just before we all joined the Australian Team for the 1972 San Diego World titles, MP and I went to Burleigh Point
one day during the week. As it turned out an A crew of local surfers were there, Peter Drouyn, Keith Paul
, Richard Harvey
etc. etc. and then the boys from Byron turned up, Nat Young, Russell Hughes
, Bill Monie, Rusty Miller and Victorian Wayne Lynch
who was on the run from the draft. They were all very happy to see Michael the new Aussie Champ who felt a bit in awe of the senior elders of the tribe.
Close family friend Mick Fanning
with Michaels ever supportive mum, Joan. Pic: Swilly
I said, “Just go out and show them who is the new King, Michael!” and with that squinted cheeky MP grin, he unleased without a leash, an awesome display of roundhouse cutbacks disappearing in the rebound, punching out for a hard off the bottom turn turning vertical for a splintering sideways hack with head turned, it was a performance that sent Nat and the troops home in a hurry. I knew then that Michael was better than his heir apparent, in fact the best in the World and of course the following year began his dominance in no uncertain terms up until his last emphatic win at the Burleigh Stubbies classic with the first man on man event invented by MP friend Peter Drouyn in 1977. What a surfing legacy he left behind and now his legendary status will be emblazed forever! Thanks MP! God Bless you mate!
A big turn out for the original 'surfer's surfer'. Pic: Swilly
Michaels club the Kirra Surfriders Club had a club round in his honour at D-Bah wearing black arm bands recently. MP was a former Club champion, past President and Life Member of the KSC hosted the Wake at the Rainbow Bay Surf Club. Joan stipulated that to attend the wake you must first attend the service... she also asked everyone wear T’s, boardshorts, thongs or sandals!
MP's good mate and rival Rabbit Bartholomew
checks out some classic photos with Dot. Pic: Swilly
The Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach 2012 was dedicated to Michael who won at Bells from 73, 74, and 75.
The Paddle Out at Kirra for MP was held on Saturday 14th of April from 10am.
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