Join the army! Travel the world!.....and kill people!
Writing the book was a trip back in time! Today’s surfers view the seventies as an era of idyllic, empty waves, but it was a very different world where surfers were virtual outlaws, harassed by police and rejected by polite society as dole-bludging druggos. Much early surf exploration was driven by conscription - rather than face going to gaol for refusing to join the army, many surfers chose to disappear. My own brother, Mike, was faced with this threat to life and liberty, but it turned into an opportunity when he became manager of Skipp’s surf shop. When we interviewed John Skipp we got his side of the story.
‘It was ’68,’69, I had the shop and I was ready to go fighting. I advertised in the Mercury –‘Wanted: surfer to manage surf shop. Must have long hair and brains.’ Mick Richo got the job. Then they changed the intake date and skipped the three months that contained my birthday. It was the only lottery I’ve ever won.’
Gough Whitlam dismantled conscription at the end of 1972 and surfers came out of hiding all over Australia, including plenty of Americans on the run. Wayne Lynch was the most famous of them all, the goofy who almost single-handedly invented modern backhand surfing. ‘I went in Bells in 1973 to try to get some money because Gough Whitlam had given us amnesty from conscription, I think I came fourth.’