Press Release

September 28, 2010

Image: Bobby Brown bottom turn on a cut down surfboard

Bobby Brown, age 16, on a 7' 6" cut down Jackson Surfboard in May 1963 (Photo: Bob Weeks)

There have been many talented surfers from Cronulla and the Southside beaches of Sydney. Names like Eddie Conlon, Gary Hughes, Jim Banks, Ross Marshall, Gary Green, Michael Mackie, Richard Herbert, Rod Baldwin and of course the one and only World Champion Mark “Occy” Occhilupo that established themselves through-out the 70’s and 80’s. However the history of the Southside is not complete without the acknowledgement of Cronulla’s first surfing hero Robert Eric Brown or better known as Bobby Brown.

The Gold Coast Surf World Surf Museum at Currumbin will kick off the Bobby Brown Exhibition on Thursday, 11th November (Remembrance Day) 2010 celebrating the surfing legend hosted by local surf reporter Andrew McKinnon who won the last Bobby Brown Open Memorial at Wanda Beach, Cronulla in 1970 at the age of 16.

“Bobby was my all time hero growing up as a gremlin on the Gold Coast in the early sixties. You couldn’t help being inspired by his contest results, his style, and cool demeanour!” said McKinnon, who has been the custodian of the Bobby Brown perpetual trophy modeled on the famous Jack Eden photograph of Bobby on his G&S stringerless board (which will be in the exhibition) at Sandon Point. The Soul Arch sculpture trophy was presented by Bobby’s fiancé Lorraine McIntyre and has been McKinnon’s number one prize item for the last 40 years.

“While I never met Bobby, I watched him surf in the 1966 National finals at Coolangatta, and have felt a strong affinity with his legendary spirit. The exhibition is my way of giving thanks and invoking his incredible spirit.”

Bobby had a raw unbridled surfing approach considered to be super radical for the day, sometimes riding shorter boards than the normal equipment. “He broke his 9ft Jackson Surfboard in half at Cronulla Point one morning,” explained close Cronulla mate Brian ‘Chubby’ Kirkham, who then watched in amazement as Bobby came back to the Point on a cut-down version of the same board. “He reshaped the tail, whacked on the same fin creating a 7ft 6in shorter board than the original. He was pulling off full rail carving turns on this shorter board but none of us thought any differently as Bobby surfed great on all types of boards.” Cronulla photographer Bob Weeks (find photo attached) recorded these revolutionary sessions in May 1963 when Bobby was only 16.

Bobby Brown was way ahead of his time but was sadly struck down in his prime dying at only 20 years of age as a result of a glassing attack in a Sydney pub over a game of pool in August 1967. His premature tragic ending devastated his family, fiancé and friends, who were left trying to come to terms with his unexpected loss and the question begging, “What if?”. Bobby was planning to marry his childhood sweetheart Lorraine McIntyre at the end of the year and go to Hawaii for their honeymoon. They had never been out of Australia.

Paul Witzig who made a number of groundbreaking movies of the Australian Surfing Heroes in the sixties is currently restoring his first masterpiece, “The Hot Generation” and will dedicate the digitalised release to both Bobby Brown and the late Kevin Brennan who share a segment surfing at Tallows, Byron Bay.

The opening party for Bobby’s Exhibition is on Thursday night 11th November, at 6.30pm and will be a great night to celebrate this enigmatic Australian surfing great and will be well attended by Bobby’s Family including his oldest brother John who has written a special poem for presentation. Other legendary surfers in attendance will include Cronulla’s surfing pioneer and artist Gary Birdsall who has painted a portrait of his old mate for the Exhibition, other memorabilia on display includes original Bobby Brown boards and trophies, timeless photo’s and classic 16mm and 8 mm movies. World Surfing Champion Wayne ‘Rabbit” Bartholomew will help Andrew “AndyMac” McKinnon MC the night including live music and a presentation of Bobby Browns’ remarkable life and legacy!

The Bobby Brown – Celebrating a surfing legend exhibition will be on show at Gold Coast Surf World from November 2010 until January 2011. In the New Year the Bobby Brown Exhibition will take off for the Noosa Surfing Festival and Kingscliff Malfunction in March, and Surf World Torquay in April during the 50th anniversary of the Bells Beach Easter event and back to Bobby’s home turf of Cronulla and Wollongong in September 2011.

McKinnon is currently writing a book on the life and times of Bobby Brown.

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