The April, 1982 issue of Tracks sees Cheyne Horan leading the world title race after winning the first two events of the year – the Straight Talk Tyres Open at Cronulla and the fabled Stubbies event at Burleigh Heads. Both finals were won in heated battles against Cheyne’s archrival, Mark Richards. By the beginning of the ’82 season Cheyne had already finished runner up in the world title race three times – twice to MR and once to Rabbit Bartholomew in ’78 – and seemed destined to finally claim a crown.

Below Cheyne reflects on the rivalry with MR, discusses the role of the 360 as surfing’s most progressive move at the time, and makes some controversial claims about his eventual loss to Mark Richards in the ’82 world title race.


“In the lead up to the Australian leg I’d been living in a tree house with Chris Brock at the back of Broken Head… I called it the best room I’d ever lived in. It was a dome Perspex with a mosquito net on the outside and we had a gutted slot machine for a fireplace. I was surfing a lot with Gary Timperley and living there I was able to get really in tune with the point breaks in the lead up to the Australian leg of the tour.”


“The idea of using video footage to improve your surfing was just coming in. Before that you had to use Super 8 footage. In the lead up to the Cronulla event I was able to get my surfing really in tune by working with a videographer, Rodney Cole. When video came in suddenly it was instant and you could go back to the house and watch the footage straight away.”


“I loved competing in front of the Stubbies crowd … It was probably bigger than Snapper is now with the Quiksilver Pro – just the number of people covering that Burleigh headland. I thrived on competing in front of a crowd, like when I was at the OP pro at Huntington in front of a huge crowd and I did the backside 360. (Later the same year Cheyne pulled off a backside 360 to claim the final of the OP pro in front of a 30 000 strong Huntington beach crowd). I was one of those competitors who liked to leave their best efforts out in the water. I liked to come in knowing that I’d gone for it. If I pulled it off I won. If I didn’t I lost.”


“At the time Gary Timperley, Derek Hynd and myself were the only ones competing who could do 360s and they had a pretty low completion rate back then – about 30 %. I’d learned to do them off a guy at Newport Beach called Preston Murray. I remember one heat at The Stubbies with my sparring partner Gary Timperley early on and it was super close and I pulled off a 360. He went for one and didn’t make it and I made it through.”


“In the final I hid in the rocks and waited until MR was in the water and then paddled down towards him. We got that idea of hiding from the crowd and the competitor from MP. Paul Neilson told me to sit on the bank and let MR stay deep. It was really strange Burleigh – a bit all over he place. MR sat deeper and missed a few of the peaky waves and in the end that was the difference.”


“It was just the full on psyche out at that stage – everything from our training to our boards. We would be in the surf together all the time outside of heats. Often we were the last to leave the water. We’d talk but it was always about trying to get an edge … about boards or he’d talk about this magic wax that he had that he thought would make a difference. It was like the tennis rivalry between Borg and McEnroe. He was the iceman like Borg and even though my personality wasn’t really like McEnroe’s that’s how people at the time tried to frame it. I think I had him in man on match ups though. It was something like 13 to 8.”


“We’re both family men now and our competitive era is all water under the bridge. We don’t really ring each other up but if we see each other we’ll talk about things outside of our competitive era. We’ll talk about boards and family.”


“It was a big deal to get the cover because they were hard to come by. I’d grown up reading Tracks and it was like our bible. I loved the paper format of it back then because it made it feel really current.”


“It might make me sound like a sore loser but when I look back over that year and analyse where it went wrong it’s hard not to look at the Brazil contest. MR was sponsored by Lightning Bolt and three of the judges at the Brazil event were affiliated with Lightning Bolt – Mark Jacola, Bernie Baker and Jack Shipley. MR wasn’t even at the event. If I won the competition, the world title was mine but I lost on a 3/2 judging decision in the quarters or the semis. The two local judges had me winning the heat. It had nothing to do with MR, it was more of a corporate thing that he was oblivious to.”