Professional surfing’s first tour, the IPS, launched the same year with 16-year-old Horan jumping aboard. In his debut at Sydney’s Surfabout, he finished seventh. The teenaged speedster soon became the youngest member of the Bronzed Aussies — a team of professionally-minded competitors intent on gaining mainstream exposure for the sport. Horan finished runner-up to Wayne Bartholomew for the 1978 world title, winning the Waimea 5000 in Brazil and appearing set for the top, pushing Horan’s record of runner-up finishes to four. During that stretch, he was the fastest surfer alive, refusing to relinquish single-fins to jump on the twin-fin or the thruster bandwagon. A staunch advocate of Geoff McCoy’s needle-nosed, wide-tailed Lazor Zaps, he was at times unbeatable in small to medium surf.
He gained independence from the clone-like Bronzed Aussies in 1980 and pledged his life to vegetarianism and yoga. A radical surfer for his era, Horan won the inaugural Op Pro in 1982 with a crowd-pleasing backhand 360 in the final. His popularity culminated with a win in the 1983 Surfer Poll and a spot in a widely distributed Sunkist soda commercial. With Geoff McCoy and designer Ben Lexcen, Cheyne Horan developed a winged keel fin based on an America’s Cup sailboat design. The Star Fin has been a great success for Cheyne and continues to sell well today. He produced a movie, Scream in Blue, chronicling his life and views in 1987.
At the start of 1990, he won the final event of the season, the Billabong Pro, and re-emerged in the Top 16 — this time on conventional equipment. The $50,000 win was his first in Hawaii. Before ending his world tour career in 1993, Horan accumulated 12 victories and seven top-five, year-end finishes. Six years after leaving the pro tour, Horan found a shot at redemption with the Quiksilver World Masters Championship in France. Never wavering in his dedication to fitness and competition, he out-dueled his old adversaries in perfect beach break barrels and claimed the under-40 world title. Emerging from the water, he proposed to his girlfriend Paulina, and they were married in May of 2000.