Ever wonder where the word “softcock” went?
Or “seppo,” for that matter?
You don’t really hear those terms much anymore, and I’ve got a theory why: The Malloys killed them. Snuffed them out. Speared those words with a trident and ate them for breakfast.
If you know your history, you’ll know that a prominent Australian surfer once very publicly called out American surfers as “a bunch of softcocks” for not charging harder in big surf, and another referred to our competitive surfers as “seppo wankers.”
Subsequently, Tom Curren cemented three world titles, Brad Gerlach and Mike Parsons charged bigger surf than anyone, and Richard Schmidt went completely medieval on the North Shore.
Then a kid from Florida named Kelly Slater joined the Tour.
But thanks in large part to an Australian surf photographer, anti-American sentiment and derisive terminology remained alive. Flag waving and unrequited, in-your-face jingoistic trash-talk still existed. Aussie pundits predicted that Shane Herring, Mick Campbell, and Danny Wills would soon crush the American wankers.
Then a side story developed: The Malloys hit the road.
Sponsored by an American branch of an Australia-founded company, the Malloys began to haunt the North Shore in winter and travel the world for the balance of the year.
Some of these trips included visits to Australia, and sessions surfing with Australians on the North Shore. Word started to get out: these seppos were definitely not softcocks.
In fact these seppos were f–king nuts, mate.
Equipped with traditional American West values, the Malloys would come to your town, make friends, respectfully rip the shit out of your surf, were polite, chivalrous, and non-condescending with women (“Howdy, M’am”), and could hold their liquor. They absorbed and basked in local culture, never backed down from a fight, never bragged, smiled a lot, and always stayed humble.
And on the poker table known as the North Shore, the Malloys said, “I’ll see your Waimea and raise you one Outer Reef.”
Strangely, at home, the Malloy phenomenon was initially met by some petty jealousy, behind-the-back grumbling, and bizarre physical challenges, but over time, the critics, one by one, realized that the Malloy act was, well…not an act. They were the real deal. They ripped and they were good guys and they were thankful and happy and unapologetic about being “photo pros.”
In my view, this is just about the time when it became too much for the psyche of the good ol’ Aussie bloke. The Malloys were blue collar, change-the-tire-with-you, risk-their-life-to-save-yours kind of mates, and that’s just too appealing to a beer-swilling, tall-Poppy-hating country.
Softcocks, wankers, and seppos got tossed into the bin.
So the next time you see a Malloy brother, go up to him, shake his hand, and thank him for representing American surfers in such a positive, hard-charging way.
Especially if you’re a softcock.