Deciding what to run on the cover of our 50th Anniversary issue was no easy task. How do you choose a single shot to summarise 50 years of surfing history? The short answer is, of course, you can’t.

The solution? Run one timeless colour image of a surfer that we thought encompassed the best of Australian Surfing - Mick Fanning - beautifully captured by Trent Mitchell on the NSW Far North Coast, and to compliment that, dig deep into the Tracks archives to pull out some of the most classic imagery that’s ever been run in the magazine, which would be tiled around the rest of the cover and gatefold section.

The keep the 50th-anniversary celebrations going, we thought it’d be appropriate to run a series in which we divulge the stories behind some of the black and white images from the cover. And here is number one.

The Ancestors

Taken at Captain Goodvibes’ illustrator Tony Edwards’ place at Palm Beach circa 1973

This photo represents where it all began for Tracks. It features the members of the original Tracks family, who had gathered to celebrate Tony’s Edwards’ birthday. Seated left-to-right are: Phil Jarratt, Albe Falzon, Mary Camardie, Stephen Cooney, Louise de Teleiga, John Grissim, Tony Edwards’ arse, Sally Edwards (holding Chloe Edwards), and Frank Pithers.

You may also be wondering about the random pig wandering around. It was a gift for the birthday boy, and quite appropriate too. Not long prior to the photo being taken Tony’s creation - Captain Goodvibes - had made his debut in the pages of Tracks.

Spit the Winkle

Perpetrators unknown - Photo: Sarge

Issue: December 1989

You might not believe it, or maybe you would, but this photo of a young man firing off a foul brown cocktail full of corn kernels became one of the most run photos in the history of Tracks. Although we’re pretty sure that when he stuck a hose up his arse and filled his innards with water, he had little idea he was about to make history and give rise to the cult known as ‘Spitting the Winkle’

Chris Davidson Beats Kelly Slater at Bells … Twice!

The year was 1996 and Chris Davidson, who was 19-years-old at the time, had been spending most of his time lost in the wilds of Indonesia with Tom Curren on Rip Curl’s Search trips. It was also Rip Curl who decided to pull Davo out of the jungle and give him a wildcard into the Rip Curl Pro at Bells beach, where he would face Kelly Slater in round one.

Now, this was at a time when a younger Kelly was at his best and considered virtually unbeatable, especially against a surfer who had all but vanished from the competitive surfing scene for years. And when the heat hit the water, Davo was nowhere to be seen. In true Davo fashion, he rocked up late for his heat, with no legrope, and holding a borrowed board he’d never ridden before.

However, when he did finally get out there, he surfed like a man possessed, throwing down massive gaff after massive gaff, taking down a shellshocked Kelly and sending him into round two.

In round three Kelly was out for revenge, but Davo beat him again, leaving Kelly fuming, and about the only time he would ever flip the judges the bird.

Chalk one up for the Aussie surfing animal, it wasn’t extinct just yet.