“Growing up I was always passionate about surfing but I didn’t set my sights on winning contests, surfing Pipeline or on anything really."
I was just a kid from Maroubra. I idolised Gerry Lopez, Rory Russell and Wayne Lynch but I had no plans to surf against them. I surfed in club contests and junior events but the doors opened up for me when I won the first pro event I entered, the Surfabout Contest on the Northern Beaches. After that I was invited into the Pipe Masters.
“Surfing Pipeline came pretty naturally. The waves were so perfect, I had a big board and I was skinny back then and it seemed to suit the way I surfed. I was feeling pretty confident after the Surfabout win and I gave myself plenty of time to prepare. The waves were great – 6-10 foot – right through the tournament except for the finals day. Competitive surfing was tough then. There were six people in a heat and it could be hard just to get waves. I was thrilled to get the win but it happened so quickly I was shocked more than anything. I was only 19 and pretty much an unknown.
“The following year  the waves were bigger and stayed great for the final. There was animos- ity towards some of the Australians in Hawaii at that time. I copped a bit of abuse, some of my boards speared and they made it tough for me in the contest. I was lucky to keep getting through heats. In the final it was 8-10 foot and there was Dane Kealoha, Mark Richards, Tom Carroll, Shaun Tomson, Larry Bertlemann, and myself. Kealoha was way out in front and on all the good ones. He caught 10 waves and back then you couldn’t catch any more so he went in. I ended up picking up two great waves in the last
10 minutes, while he was on the beach watching, and ended up winning.
“The prize money was $4000 and the trophy was a perpetual one so I never got to take it home. I asked Randy Rarrick for a remembrance trophy a few years ago and he said, “Larry, you don’t need one”. I still go back to Hawaii but I no longer surf Pipeline.”
For the record: Larry was the first Aussie to win the Pipe Masters and to win it back to back and remains the youngest ever winner of the event.