#17 Wayne Lynch

SURFER Celebrates the 50 Greatest Surfers of All Time

Johanna, Victoria, 1976. Photo: Jeff Divine

Johanna, Victoria, 1976. Photo: Jeff Divine

I traveled with Wayne Lynch for most of Paul Witzig’s surf movies in the late-'60s. Evolution and Sea of Joy were the classics. You get to know someone pretty well when you travel together. We rode waves all over the world: Morocco, France, Puerto Rico, Mauritius, South Africa--it is a bond we share that will last a lifetime.

Wayne was a country kid, from Lorne in Victoria, who had incredible talent. A goofyfoot, Wayne was something pretty unique in Australian surfing at the time. To the uneducated, the best way I can describe Lynchies surfing is smooth flowing, not radical. With Wayne, no movement was forced, every turn blended together, and the only time the movement stopped was when he ran out of wave.

The first time I really got to know him was when he was on the run. It was Byron Bay in the early '70s and the Vietnam War was taking thousands of young men from the States and Australia. Essentially Wayne was a draft-dodger. We were all opposed to the war, but Wayne had actually run away, risking a prison term if he was ever caught. His number had come up in the lottery, and like that, he turned up at my farm after hitting the road in his girlfriend Kay’s little bug. The tiny VW was spilling over with camping gear and a pile of beautiful boards stacked on the roof when he struggled up my driveway. The boards were all covered; they were keel-fins, sleek, narrow, high-performance, spaceships in see-through, translucent colors. Some were shaped by Pat Morgan from Torquay, but others were experimental, shaped by Wayne himself.

It was the best of these beautiful crafts that we took to Bali on our first trip. I think that was '72. We had all been to a restaurant on the other side of the island from Kuta, it was pretty late, the road was dark with only minimal streetlights. We were all riding our rented bikes, I had my wife sitting behind me and Wayne had Kay riding pillion. I have no idea what inspired him, but halfway home, Wayne speeds past me yelling that he was Superman. The next morning I went by his losmen to go surfing and was told that Kay and Wayne were in hospital. He had hit a roadwork ditch that wasn't there when we went across the island. Kay lost all her teeth in the accident and I think that was where Wayne caught Hepatitis--in the Balinese hospital. Certainly after that Wayne was always very particular about his diet, where he traveled, and how he rode a motorcycle. --Nat Young

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