Cheyne Horan Surf School

The Australian Surfers Journal
Vol 3. No. 2, Autumn 2000
Unconventional Wisdom:
The Life & Times of Cheyne Horan
by Jimmy O'Keefe

"Cheyne Horan is vibrant.
He's obsessive, intense and controversial.
Speaks exactly how he feels.
An innovator and, of course, an individual.
He gave us all a different view.
He still does.
He's weathered the storm : innovation through hardship.
He's always moving forwards.
People are shocked to see what he does next.
Cheyne Horan is a survivor!"
- Tom Carroll, 1999.

Very gracious of Tom, those words opposite, when you consider that Cheyne had just beaten him out of a world masters title in France. But these two surfers have always had a special kind of rivalry, and a mutual respect. And Cheyne and Mark Richards have a similiar thing going. In fact, wherever you go in the world of surfing, mention the name Cheyne Horan and you will get two immediate and opposite reactions. Amused incredulity at what he's tried to pull off, and abiding respect for the fact that he has somehow almost succeeded.
Cheyne's dad was a champion ice skater with an obsession. As a kid he'd be up in Sydney's pre-dawn blackness and scoot down to the local skating rink, flick on the lights and he'd carve across the ice like a razor kicking a lubricated blade across a prickly face. From 5am until 7.30am he was completely oblivious to everything except the feeling of flight and speed across the ice. Then he'd throw the skates in his bag, climb out the window and be outta there before anyone knew a thing.
Cheyne says his father's story was the single most important motivation of his early life. "Every morning... he did that as a kid, and he'd tell me that story and I'd feel that exact same commitment to fun and blindly pursuing that feeling. So when I started surfing, I was up at 5am every day - out at Bondi surfing."
And he wasn't the only one. Cheyne's crew of red cordial and vegemite fuelled cohorts were known as the Bush Hill Crew, after their hangout on a South Bondi hill with a solitary tree. Included in the gang were Joe Engel, Richard Cram, and Ant Corrigan - a a hot clutch of kids who later stamp the 70's Bondi attitude of radical flair into the Australian surfing psyche.

The Bush Hill Crew
"We evolved from the original Hill Crew of Brad Mayes, Steve Corrigan, Bruce Raymond, Paul Manstead, Kevin Brennan and Gary Bostock. When we took over the hill from those guys there'd be about 70 boards sprawled all over the place. Just down from us the Wall Crew, they'd have all their boards leaned up against..the wall. That was Greg Webber, the Webber brothers, and the private school kids. And down past them was the Rock Crew, they'd all be bronzing up, caring more about how they looked than surfing.
Everyone wanted to be part of the Bush Hill Crew, but you couldn't just infiltrate and join up. It wasn't because we were too cool, just that you could see people coming from a long way off, and for them to walk up this hill they had to have a reason, so if they weren't with the crew you'd pelt them with milk cartons.
On Sunday arvos all the westies would be going home in a procession of buses. Packed like sardines, heading back to Parramatta after a weekend at the beach. We'd be up there swearing at 'em and they'd be swearing back, hangin' out the windows, and we'd blast 'em with eggs and water bombs.
We got invited to this party one time, or someone knew someone who did. It was a high class party and everyone was in suits and stuff, and as soon as they saw the 40 of us kids wearing our best boardshorts coming into the party, they kind of stuck us out of sight down in a giant wine cellar. We're all down there, 14 years old, and we know nothing about fine wine and how much it costs. Soon we've cracked open all the champagne and all the vintage reds. The champagne was the big hit. We had the champagne fight from hell, hundreds of corks flying around and everyone's going stupid spraying each other, pouring red wine over each other's heads. It was like something out of a movie. The floor was about four inches deep with wine and we're trudging around in and slipping over, girl's tops are coming off, and it's getting really wild.
Next thing they've come down and busted us, we've destroyed this winery and they kicked us out. That was it for our social outings. We had to disband just to go anywhere. It was the last straw, and no one ever invited us, or someone we knew anywhere again."

"I used to leave my board around at Joe Engel's house and wake him up early every morning," Cheyne says about an innocent early morning ritual from a time when Bondi was a far from innocent place.
One morning when the waves were as perfect as anything from a Tony Edwards cartoon, a filmmaker had arranged to shoot the boy's surfing. The only problem was that there was a geography test the same morning. It was no problem for Cheyne: "There's no way I'm going to miss (going surfing). Super 8 was a big deal back then, but Joe's going. 'No, I'm studying for this geography test - I wanna do good in this test!'
I just scoffed and went, 'Mate! Stuff that, I'm going surfing.'
"So I surf and it's the best it's ever been and I still get to school just in time for the test. I'm dripping wet and stoked out of my head. Joe's just sitting there, all bleary eyed from being up all night studying and he's all keyed up for this thing, and he's shaking his head at me. And we both ended up failing!"
Cheyne's laugh comes in low and deep like a chugging locomotive.
In case you hadn't guessed, Master Horan was never the studious type: the pen might be mightier than the sword, but to Cheyne, 5'10" of fibreglass covered foam was mightier than an ink filled plastic pipe any day!
He'd seen the power of foam and fibreglass pushed to its limits by the grown-up guys at Bondi. It was a radical era in Australian surfing and the young Bondi gremmies sucked their inspiration form guys like Ron Ford. Says Cheyne: "Ron Ford was the best surfer in the world in under six feet waves. I believe he was better than MP. I know that's a big statement, because MP is one of my kings too. And Col Smith was really radical too, he'd catch a wave and pull off one really hard manouevre that would blow your mind. But Ron Ford would crap all over that and pull off four."
Cheyne's talent was obvious. Vic Ford, older brother of Ron and proprietor of the Bondi Junction Surfshop, also noticed his determination and took him under his wing, making sure he made it to all the main events. With Vic's help Cheyne was soon working through regional, state, and Aussie titles. Going places.
Says Cheyne: "There's a famous Surfing World photo of me, Tom Carroll and Ant Corrigan in a Rolls Royce, and to me there's a lot of underlying meaning in it. Y'know, me and Tom went on and had our personal success and Ant never really made it...He was easily as good, just not as keen. I remember he missed out on getting to a comp one time. He slept in and missed his ride. The difference was that me or Tom would have run there, on our hands and knees, over broken glass."
Says Tom Carroll: "I remember that photo shoot. Hugh McCleod had us all meet over in the eastern suburbs. I just had a fin cut half my leg off and I'm trying to smile sitting in this car...I suppose that photo was fairly prophetic. And Ant, well he never quite chased it, but for the photographer - two out of three ain't bad."
AS the competition side of things started to hot up, Horan became an ego not to be messed with in the water. Even now, whilst on land he's insightful, humourous - placid even -as soon as he pulls on a singlet he's more cut-throat than a jailed Puerto Rican with a switchblade.
As the supremely competitive Tom Carroll can attest: "Cheyne Horan was the kind of kid who'd compete to walk through a doorway. When I was 13 I was too scared to surf against him in a cadet title because he was so unbeatable. We ended up hitting it off as mates and whenever all us kids were together he'd always be trying to beat you, whether it was pool, pinball, chess, darts, it didn't matter. It was total one-upmanship."
Cheyne started competing on the Australian leg of the fledgling world pro tour at 15. His first experiences in open competition with the big guys were a real wake-up call. "(Michael Peterson) was like this really heavy-psyche guy. He used to eat people up, he had evey psychological trick in the book. Here's a guy who, for three years was not beaten. I guess as a junior I had a similiar reputation, blowin' kids away before the heat had started, but this was really serious.
"I think I was still 15 when I got through into the Coke contest. I got MP in my heat and he's staring at me, doing this laugh, just the full psyche scent, but it's not even scratching at my surface. So we're in the heat and the PA's gone off.
Peterson's not that far away and I tell him: 'Hey Michael - they've just asked you to go in. You've got an interference for paddling for that wave I was on.'
"He's curled up his face and gone, 'I didn't interfere!' He's looking around and swearing, screaming, his eyes are mad - he's just peaking. The microphone blares out again, it's muffled like before and Peterson's scratching around, looking in at the crowd and looking over at me and he's just wild. So I look at him in disbelief with my arms out and I go, 'Mate, are you deaf? They've just said it've got to go in!"
"So he's got steam coming out of his ears and all I can hear is 'Bullshit!' and 'No way!' as he starts paddling in. He's halfway in and I cup my hands to my mouth and I yell as loud as I possibly can, 'Hey Michael - I was only joking!'
"I'm coming out of the shower after the heat and I'm laughing and happy...then MP grabs me by the stomach, almost rips it out, and it knocks the wind out of me. His eyes go into mine like two knives and he whispers: "You're in the big time now."
The media loved Cheyne Horan. He was the 'White Knight', the Blonde Bombshell from Bondi', any number of convenient light relief headlines. He was so mmuch the quintessential super grommet, he was almost a cartoon character. The shock of white hair, the freckled tan skin, the blue eyes - surfing's Aryan youth poster boy. The original fluoro grommet covered in bright colours, backed up with a full arsenal of unbelievable skateboard tricks.
But beyond all this, he was an extremely talented surfer. In recent surfing history, it's hard to think of a freakier talent at such a young age. He was the predecessor to Curren, Potter, Occy, and Slater as freakish kids who barnstormed their way out of school uniforms to be overnight world title contenders.

Trucks: The Skate Thing
"We had no idea it would be such a big deal.
Skateboarding just took off in this country, and we were right in the middle of it. It was a full-on craze.
Now let's get something straight, we never created anything new. All the skating tricks, all the equipment was American...It wasn't like surfing, where Australians were creating all the innovations, we were just copying the hot American guys like Stacey Peralta.
The main man behing this skating push in Australia was Thor Svensen. He'd been around surfing for a long time and was one of the original WindanSea gusy in California. He was a school teacher at Balgowlah High (in Sydney) and he put on a lot of surfing events for the kids. Everyone liked his surfing events because they were all different. He'd have prizes for best style, hang ten or radical turn. The way comps should be.
It all started when Coca Cola put on this skateboarding contest and all the surfers from all over Sydney went in it. Everyone who skated was a surfer back then, it gave us something to cause havoc on when the surf was flat. I'd been practicing a bit and I managed to win every division I went in except for one. They picked a team and Thor was in charge of it. There was Kenny Oliver, John Sanderson, Chris Elliot, Rob Bain, who was the baby of the team, and myself. Twice a week we used to go to this place, skate, and get our trip down. Fully choreographed - it was like we were getting a concert ready.
Thor was great. He taught me a lot about how to act in public. We were role models and he made us aware of it. 'Keep a tight act, so you're respected.' He taught us how to have a media face, how to act on TV, how to behave when you're being entertained by sponsors. We needed that restraint because we were wild surfing kids under those uniforms. We travelled around Australia getting paid for those performances and signing autographs. None of us really got off on that fame thing though, all we wanted to do was skate.
So as soon as no one was looking we'd tear off through the city, flipping airs and 360's, doing handstands and just hooting each other. It was a good experience for a kid. It helped our surfing as well - balance, weighting and unweighting the feet and body through turns, aerials; it's still one of the best training devices.
I still love skating even now. I guess the funny thing is I never had an accident when I was a kid but I had a shocker when I was on the world tour in Laguna in 1988. I was just skating home from the shop and I had food in both hands and I went to jump the gutter, and I'm up in the air and there's no way I'm gonna let go of my food (laughs), so I thought I'd cushion the fall with my back. I had to spend 3 weeks in bed, looking at the ceiling. Nowadays we've got this hill we still skate down in Hawaii, Pupukea Hill, that's about a 45minute downhill speed burn. But if you take your time and cruise it, it'll take an hour and a half. It's like snowboarding - just loosen up the trucks and carve."

Bronzed Aussie
As a grommet Cheyne used to wag school every Friday afternoon and hitch a ride up to Avoca with Geoff McCoy. McCoy, an excellent surfer and Sydney's most in-demand shaper, had one of his boards under the kid's fee as soon as he saw him surf. Geoff became a mentor but never let his protege know just how good he was. On weekdays at Bondi, Cheyne would turn up at Vic Ford's shop, where - from time to time - McCoy would drop in with famous test riders like Reno Abellira and Buttons Kaluhiokalani.
Cheyne and McCoy hit it off, the pair actually looking very similiar with matching Greenough-inspired bowl-cuts. McCoy would taunt the grommet with tales of how when he got up to Avoca on the weekend all the local kids would surf rings around him, make a fool out of him and generally just kick his arse.
Recalls Cheyne: "He used to dog me like that, just tickle with my ego. It used to drive me mad. So by the time I got up to Avoca I'd be frothing at the mouth, ready to blow these kids out of the water.
While McCoy's mind games had Horan boxing shadows on the Central Coast, Peter Townend had become the first IPS World Champ and the Bronzed Aussies had formed. The controversial Bronzed Aussies, a marketing concept of Sydney Sports journalist Mike Hurst, was a bold attempt to take surfing to the mainstream media, and thereby capitalise on it through big money sponsorship. Hurst and surfers Ian Cairns, Peter Townedn and Mark Warren shared the dream of seeing the sport of surfing getting the coverage of other national pursuits such as tennis and cricket.
As part of the recruitment drive, the BAs set up a contest with the wnner scoring a trip to Hawaii. Mark Warren who knew Cheyne well through the McCoy team, told him about the comp, Horan blitzed the competition, got to know PT and Cairns and soon after became a fully fledged Bronzed Aussie signing a three year contract. Down the track Mark Warren amicably split from the BAs and was replaced by young Cronulla stylist Jim Banks.
In 1978 with BA support, Cheyne set out on his first full year on the tour. He shot from the blocks and just kept going, finishing an incredible seond in the world at his first crack. the only thing stopping him from getting to the top was the other-worldly charge of Rabbit Bartholomew. Rabbit refers to Cheyne's impossible '78 climb in his bio, 'Bustin down the door': "All of a sudden everyone was looking over their shoulder at Cheyne Horan. He just came out of nowhere. It was a race between me and the super-kid. It really felt like this kid might take over and relegate all of us to history in one go. It was radical"
That year when the tour hit Brazil, 'Cheyne Mania' kicked in. The Brazilians went ape over the blue-eyed blonde kid with the freckles, and the hot blooded crown made him their own. In the quarters, he came up against Critta Byrne and the crowd, so enamoured with the Bondi bombshell, started booing Critta. Throughout the heat they cheered Cheyne hysterically and bayed for his Woollongong opponent's blood. As Byrne walked away from the water's edge at the end of the heat, the locals started throwing sand bombs and bottles at him to which he responded as you would. Byrne needed a police escort ot get off the beach. He packed his gear and booked a flight home. Horan won the contest, beating his employer, PT, in the final, earning him sainthood status in Brazil and pocketing a cool 4000 donuts along the way. The boy was on fire.
The following year cracks started to show in the Bronzed Aussies' facade. Cairns and PT were losing money flying Horan and Banks aorund the globe. Even Cheyne's high flying publicity didn't convert to dollars for the Bronzed Aussies clothing range.
Horan and Banks were not getting along either. Cheyne recalls: "It was a joke. Here I am travelling around the world, I'm always stuck in the same room with this guy I didn't get along with, and he's stuck with me. We'd look each other in the eye and want to fight . We tried to get Ian and Peter to work it out, y'know , they've got their own rooms so they'tre fine. I don't mind living in the dogbox as long as there by myself. So I said, I'm out of here. Up and left, and I had to get a good lawyer to get me out of it."
Despite the flak the Bronzed Aussies got from the surf media, and his own bitter split with Cairns and Townsend, which may have cost him a world title later that year, Cheyne doesn't regret pulling the pin on the Bronzed Aussie cossie. "I have a lot of respect for them. It was a very brave move, they went for it and I went with them. Surfing and life in general was different back then, Mohammed Ali was fuckin' running around saying, 'I am the greatest', and people in surfing were doing it too. You can't call it a wank because that was a sign of the times, I reckon Rabbit shit himself. I reckon Shaun and MR shit 'emselves, a lot of the companies were scared of it too. They bagged it, then turned around and used all the same ideas (Sponsored teams travelling together)"

It was 1979. Haliewa. This is how I feel about that...I love all these guys I'm about to talk about, but you have to remember I was a kid when I went through all of this. PT was hassling real badly and took off on three little waves. I got two big ones. But that's not what got me. The clocks reading 18.36 so there's a minute and a half left and I've got a world title riding on this. I was right on the peak and this set's coming. As the set came, the announcer says, 'ten seconds to go...three, two, one..' And the hooter goes, 'nnnnnyyytttt!'
I rode the wave all the way to the beach, and I march up and there's still like 40seconds to go. If there was video at the time, there would have been proof of the action.
People are at fault here and they need to be questioned on this. The only guy who knows besides me is Jack Shipley. MR's sponsor. He called the time. You may as well ask him. We're all going to die one day, so we may as well have the true history. I love Jack Shipley, he's taught me a lot, he's a brother, but at that point in time it came down to a business decision. I honestly think that's what happened.
I was never bitter, I was upset, Fuck, I was upset! I was still a kid and so much work went into it, and it came down to this? All the work the McCoy tema put into it. I had a whole pit crew behind me, we'd gone through history to see what had worked before, good points, bad points, and how I could incorporate everything. It was the most calculating bid for a world title ever. We had everything covered. Yeah sure PT went out to shut me down. He didn't cost me the world title, but he sure didn't help me. But it was all about competition. He was getting me back for something...He thought it was payback time. He wouldn't feel bad about nowadays. PT....mate, I reckon he probably loves it! (laughs)

Nat and Midget, Occy and Curren, Curren and Carroll, Bradshaw and Foo... as far as famous surfing rivalries go, they all pale when compared to the Cheyne/MR clashes of the early eighties. This was the grandaddy of them all. In an era when individual flair and competition was everything, the tour was all about rock star egos, flouro boards, lairy smoothskin wetsuits, and proving the dominance of one's individual style. MR and Cheyne clawed to the top of this bearpit to be the best surfers in the world.
For those of us just joining us, Cheyne Horan never won a world title. He was runner up four times. Thrice to MR and once to Bugs.
It would have been easy for him ot becom the broken hearted bridesmaid. Most people still wonder how someone could have coped. How hard would it be to go so close and never quite put the points on the board?
The question is touched on briefly, and Cheyne replies: "I've never dwelt on it. The way I answer it - truthfully, I went damn close! That whole thing with Mark Richards...mate, we pushed each other to the absolute limit! It pushed surfing performance forward."
A frank phone call from Mark Richards' Newcastle surfing bay reveals an almost verbatim response to Horan's. "It made me dig. Dig as deep as I possibly could. Here were two surfers built completely differently, with completely different styles, and completely different types of equipment, and at the end of the year two individuals fighting it out.
"I was out on the face, drawing big lines and doing off the tops, and Cheyne's thing, with his body shape, was power in the pocket, tighter and closer to the curl. His tube-riding was phenomenal. I would go as far as to say I don't think anyone has surfed as close to the pocket as Cheyne...ever!"
So where was the edge? According to Cheyne it lay in the rock solid support and strategic battle practice Mark gleaned from father and coach Ray. "I had support and equipment from Geoff, and at various times Chris Brock, Paul Nielsen and Simon Buttenshaw helped me out with technique and ocean awareness. But that was where MR had me: the strategy between him and his dad was the best part of their game."
While the compliments run free these days, it's not a shiny revisionist history, nor a pocket pissing exercise. They both seem to mean it.
Says MR: "I think about Cheyne a lot. I'll be shaping a board and I'll think about a board McCoy shaped for him and he'll just pop into my head. It's a weird feeling that I have never verbalised until now...I just wonder how I would have felt. I don't know, it's strange. As bad as I wanted to beat him, and I wanted to beat him bad, as heated as it got, I never wanted to gloat after I'd won the title...because he'd pushed me to it.
"I remember one year, 1982, and a lot of the stuff he did, like reading books on psychology, looking for all these edges, and it just spurred me on. That year the media was behind him, everything he was doing was getting big publicity and it got me mad. He didn't know it but he was giving me fuel, the motivation to beat him."
Cheyne: "I was never pissed off. Because it made me look for new ways to beat him. Every year I'd think, 'I'm gonna get him this year. MR's on the way out.' "
According to Tom Carroll, the battle with MR opened the door to Cheyne's diversification. He says: "Perhaps his search elsewhere was a result of coming second four times. It's hard to deal with, especially for someone as competitive as Cheyne. Even the word 'runner-up' means that you're running up - it's an uphill battle. But he weathered the storm and turned it into a plus. He diversified. He seemed to be more focused on a lot of other things...riding big waves, fitness, and riding the winged keel."

The outline of the fin was the Spitfire win. It's not surprising either, because the last time they ever did anything big in aerodynamics, like I mean really concentrated on it, was in World War 2. The surfboard fin was very much based on the tuna fin shape and we were working on the Spitfire wing model. It was bold but smart.
Ben Lexcen was a fuckin' legend mate! And a great Aussie. I thought the keel in that boat would be a great idea for a surfboard. Australia knew everything about the winged keel, Australia II, Alan Bond and Ben. The Americas Cup was one of our biggest ever and most spectacular sporting triumphs. McCoy and I had put so much of our own money into developing surfboards and fins, and we simply couldn't afford to keep doing it. So my friend Kerry rang Ben Lexcen out of the blue and we set up a meeting. We go to meet him and we're walking up his driveway and he's got Lamborghinis, the full trip. He's just won the Americas Cup and he's a national icon. I remember just being in awe of him. And he comes out and he's all jolly and happy. He says, 'G'day Cheyne,' and blows me away telling me he used to surf and that his first job was with Gordon Woods.
I said, 'Can you design me a fin.'
He said, 'Yeah, sure, show me what you're riding'
So I break out the McCoy and he tells me that I have to do and change all the edges and the bottom contours and the nose. He was really serious about hydrodynamics and the ideal water flow so that all the energy impacting on the board is being used to propel the board. We fixed it up and went back and saw him, then we made the fin and it was time for the big test.
Ben Lexcen, Peter Crawford, Kerry and myself all walking down the beach. It was judgement day, I was amped and Ben's going, 'Hang on,' and he's sitting down on the sand with the board, bending the fin, sanding it, just tweaking it all round for about 45mins, then he goes, 'Right. It's ready, now'.
From the first wave it felt like I was flying. It was phenomenal. A truly magic moment. A totally unhindered surfing experience. I still have it on 90% of my boards today.

Shangri La
Crossroads. A change of life, sharing a farmhouse in the Byron Bay hinterland with fellow alternate lifestylers. His time off the tour was spent pooling thoughts on environmentalism, yoga, exercise, religion and philosophy with a heavy Eastern bent.
The challenge for the group being to use their ideas in a practical day to day basis. It was far left of centre, even for Cheyne who'd always been seen as unconventional. Now his search was being seen as extremism.
Cheyne claims the era from '85 to'88 was a "change of focus" rather than a loss of focus. Others called it differently and saw him on a downward spiral. The surfing press, his professional contemporaries, judges and other ASP cogs could see the fire dwindling as Cheyne went off on his almost-noble crusade of individuality which due to his high profile, became a very public search for self.
There was a particularly damaging interview with Californian surf scribe Matt George, describing the "descent into weirdness" that resulted in Cheyne's sponsorship with Gotcha being radically cut.
"It could have been such a positive piece too," Cheyne says now, of a time he sees as an exciting personal renaissance; delving deeper into design, making a movie, his shift to giant waves, the interest in yoga and all the rest of the nu-hippy paraphenalia. "We were onto some really positive stuff with Scream in Blue, and the subsequent idea for the solar shelter. This was our five year plan..." Cheyne says like a communist apparatchik."...we'll make a movie, I'll go on, win the world title, the movie will be a massive success, we'll get the vibe out there, then we'll take that money and build the solar shelter - an automatic house that grows it's own food.
The plan started to go out of control though, I was losing all my heats and there would be no world title. I was just looking to save my arse. One kick in the guts after another."
The Scream in Blue project, although not being a big money making venture, nor the planned heroic depiction of world domination, was never deemed a disastrous failure. To the surf movie afficianado it lies in the vault as more than just an odd curio of a failed world title attempt. As time goes by, the raw, bittersweet documentary seems increasingly powerful.
"We got a backer and I paid for the music, the music was the big thing, it made the movie." Horan's right on the money with this quote: Peter Garrett's distorted wail on the title song is as intense a surf movie moment as any, providing the perfect aurals for Cheyne's visuals - a pairing of 80s Aussie surfing culture's most progressive avant guardians.
"I don't thing anyone who saw it had a bad word to say about it. I honestly reckon it's art, Australian art," Cheyne says, nodding proudly. "For some reason everyone who saw it was sad at the end, which I think's strange, but hey, I'm stoked if it moves their emotions."
Australian celluloid don, Dick Hoole says, "It's one of the bravest movies I've seen. It's raw, brutally hones, and amazing. Whereas most people use the medium to elevate their status, Cheyne just showed the truth. It was him at his lowest point, banging his head against a brick wall. The wall's not showing any cracks and he's getting a bigger and bigger headache."
So the solar compound never came to fruitition, but even in hindsight Cheyne seems oblivious to the naive boldness, some would say futility, of the failed five year plan: "It was an experiment in getting along harmoniously. I learnt how to get along with people. We believed if we could do that with just four of us, then that gives the world a chance. There's no way I regret living in that atmosphere. We created a vibe, it's just that now we've gone in our own directions as splinters an we're trying to spread ti. We're still out there giving it a shot!" Cheyne also sees the time at the farm as a rite of passage into adulthood. "In a way it was strange everyone goes through. I was getting a clinging thing from my parents, and I was cutting my ties with them. Not my loving ties, but, y'know, the nappies. I owed them for all my sucess, my morals, who I am... but all of a sudden I had to do my own thngs. I needed to do it. But it wasn't a phase, it was a building period, a foundation. Moving on with my life and my surfing." Tom Carroll: "One thing I touched on with Cheyne at this time was yoga. We did yoga together under a pretty amazing guy called Chandor. Powerful stuff. The physical aspect of surfing is a complex act, with the yoga we were really connecting with body intelligence - pushing your intelligence back into your body. The longevity both of us have experienced can in many ways be attributed to learning this at that time."

This is what I brought to the table when I was living in the house with Kerry, Brad and Pau. This was my contribution. I first got into it by watching Reno Abellira and Gerry Lopez on the North Shore, and I thought, 'that's me'. Then I read a book about this guy who was always sick, y'know, with throat infections, bad breathing, shit posture... and then he started bodysurfing and from holding his breath, using his lungs he recovered full. This is really simplified - the intake of air and the way you bring that energy, the Prana, into your body is our life source and yoga is how you can get in touch with that.
Simon Buttenshaw made me aware of it fully. Simon is one of those brilliant people in surfing. He created all the surf logos and the art and the symbols in the Torquay scene, all the stuff that gave us the term 'surfwear'. Stuff like 'Warpaint', 'Echo Beach', Poo Shooter'... that's just some of the top of my head. He's helping me with my clothing company at the moment. Simon is a free thinker. He started me on BK-Yenngar yoga which is really dynamic body yoga. Our boss, the main man, our instructor, well his name was Chandor. Wayne Lynch was into it, Tommy Carroll and Rob Page...Me and Tom ended up getting into this really extreme yoga, stretching the 'cobweb' areas, those areas with minimal flexibility. Stretching areas like this makes your body pliable. If you're rigid, you can rip and break. Everyone thinks it's a big mystery and it isn't. Yogo gets in touch with the internals from the outside.

Fish Bones
"I was on the bones of my arse. I had nothing."
The late eighties was hard for the once-wunderkind as he continued to struggle with equipment that didn't fit into the judging criteria, pressure from sponsors who'd dropped the old warhorse to minimum salary in preparation for graceful retirement.
The late 80s also signalled a giant worldwide surf boom. New surf companies sprang up overnight as the non-surfing public finally cottoned on to the reality that surfing was unassailably cool. Ad-swollen surfmags, particularly in California, ballooned almost to the point of explosion. No one was immune: car-lovin' bogans from landlocked Australian suburbs and hayseeds from the American mid-west all caught the surf bug. The resurgence of skateboarding and the word 'street' also came shoreward on the crest of the surf boom. In this country the era insidiously signalled the demise of the local surfshop as an instituition and the introduction of the shopping mall surf boutique. Surf starved masses became so desparate that the prostate troubled Beach Boys even reformed, sans Brian Wilson of course, to inflict Kokomo on the world. Frankie and Annette pumped out a 60s rehash, that was, if at all possible, worse than one of their vomit-inducing beach romps.