Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Peter Troy Farewell #2

As you know, Peter Troy recently passed on (please see previous posts). Damien Murphy of Australia's THE AGE has written (10 October 2008) a fine bio entitled: PETER HEMSWORTH TROY, OAM, ACCOUNTANT, SURFER 15-11-1938 — 30-9-2008 AN AUSTRALIAN surfer of legendary rather than public fame, Peter Troy achieved several firsts while living the laid-back life of the eternal beach boy. He may have been the first to ride the massive waves of Bells Beach, near Torquay, on a modern surfboard. In any case, on the Australia Day weekend of 1962, Troy staged a surfing competition at Bells that endures as the Rip Curl Easter Pro. But his most enduring accomplishment was the travel he undertook for about 20 years from his mid-20s when he roamed the world with a surfboard, introducing surfing to Brazil, discovering the classic right-hand breaks of Lagundri Bay and Tamarin Bay in Mauritius. He visited about 140 countries. His life became the stuff of others' dreams as his travels were recorded by Australian and American surf magazines, causing thousands of surfers to follow in his steps. His footloose trailblazing odyssey laid down the template, if not the style, for today's backpackers. Troy, who has died at his home at Mudjimba Beach in Queensland from a blood clot on a lung, aged 69, was born in Hamilton, Victoria. His parents, Col and Mardi, bought a general store in Torquay after World War II, and in 1949 young Troy went to Geelong College. He won colours in football and swimming, and in 1957 rowed in the school eight that won the last Associated Public Schools of Victoria's Head of the River race rowed on the Yarra. In those pre-wetsuit days, Torquay's summer coincided with the three-week factory Christmas break, the village hibernating for the rest of the year. Locals were few and close-knit and most of the simple fibro and weatherboard shacks were owned by Western District farmers or Melbourne tradesmen. Torquay's beach culture centred on the surf lifesaving club, which provided shelter for the young men who trekked the 100 kilometres from Melbourne every Friday night. The older men nicknamed Troy "Boy". He was a club champion on hollow wooden boards when he competed at a 1956 international carnival coinciding with the Melbourne Olympics. Californian lifesavers Greg Noll and Tom Zahn paddled out to Torquay Point on their short balsa Okanui boards, and changed Australian surfing forever. The boards sported fins that held them in the waveface, allowing the Americans to slice sideways along the unbroken swell, instead of the straight-in-to-shore ride afforded by Australian hollow boards. The Torquay crew finally had a board that could tackle Bells. Troy cut his teeth under Owen Yateman, an abalone fisherman and risk-taker, who occasionally caught waves at Bells in his fishing boat to amuse locals. He would take Troy to Bells in his motorcycle sidecar on the disused old Cobb and Co coach track and watched the youngster try to ride on his rubber Surf-o-Plane. With balsa boards, the Torquay crew mounted their assault on Bells in 1957. They still argue over who was first, Troy or his rival Marcus Shaw. Troy told the Geelong College archivist recently he was "one of the first two". In 1961, another local, Joe Sweeney, paid Barrabool Shire to bulldoze a track to Bells that afforded vehicle access and opened up the break to the world. Troy trained as a chartered accountant and worker for Price Waterhouse in Melbourne. He took to showing surf films around Victoria and made a fortune. He bought his parents a newsagency in Torquay and himself an MG Tf, and made enough money from Bruce Brown's surf circuit version of Endless Summer to fund a trip to Europe in 1965 with Rennie Ellis, a Lorne lifesaver. They saw the Beatles, slept on the Left Bank in Paris, sailed across the Atlantic in a yacht and hitched around the United States. Ellis' three-part series, Odyssey of a Surfer, appeared in the old Surfing World magazine in 1966 and launched 1000 dreams. Troy went to South America, then moved with his parents to Noosa Heads, where they ran a motel and started a short career as a surf-theatre owner and film producer (including Paul Witzig's 1971 film Sea Of Joy, which featured his Victorian heir apparent, Wayne Lynch). He travelled: Bali, the Maldives, the Seychelles, the Galapagos and throughout Africa. "Carrying a 10-foot surfboard under your arm, you were an oddity and that was your ticket to travel," he said. In the 1980s, Troy settled on the Sunshine Coast, living on Old Woman Island (Mudjimba), off Mooloolaba, and commuting by tinnie to his Surf Ratz surf shop. His partner Libby travelled the world with him for several years after nursing him in a Brisbane hospital in 1969. They parted, but married in 2000. Troy was instrumental in setting up Torquay's Surfworld Museum. Last year he was awarded the medal of the Order of Australia for helping to establish surfing as a sport, for his contribution as a historian and to the surf lifesaving movement. Troy is survived by Libby and her son and daughter. His ashes will be scattered off Old Woman Island and Torquay. --------------------- To view the original article, please go to: Endlessly sought classic breaks |


  1. I remember Peter Troy many years ago when I was a teenager living in South Geelong.Peter used to wait on the corner of Fyans St and Moorabool waiting for a bus to take him to Torquay, I think he may have been rowing on the Barwon River at the time.Peter with his film star good looks.Peter often came in to the milk bar where I worked, but what I remember most about him was he always gave me the time of day we had a quiet chat about nothing in particular,I was very much in awe of him, but I never forgot him,sorry to hear of Peter's passing.

  2. Wendy AdcockApril 29, 2014

    Firstly, Peter’s passing was a great loss to surfing, and a great personal loss to me.
    Secondly, to correct some statements within this farewell,
    Peter “settled”, in Noosaville after his first trip 1963-1966, during that time
    his parents had moved from Torquay to Noosa.
    Never “living”, on Old Woman Island. We would spend weekends and holidays there.
    Peter and I “traveled the world”, together from 1973 to 1981..contrary to “others”
    stating that they traveled the world with him.

    Ref: Pacific Longboarder Vol 15 No 5


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