Photo: Aitionn

Legendary Surfer/Shaper Wayne Deane Has Passed Away

It’s with great sadness that we report the loss of an Australian surfing icon.

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Surfing World Magazine has just learnt that legendary surfer/shaper and Kirra icon Wayne Deane has sadly passed away.

Surfing World understands that Deane died this morning after a long fight with stomach cancer.

A contemporary of Michael Peterson and Rabbit Bartholomew, Wayne Deane was smooth natural footed surfer from Queensland’s Gold Coast who made his name at late 60s Kirra, when the famous sand bottom point break was at it’s cultural and performance peak and perhaps considered the best wave in the world.

He was also an icon of surfboard shaping.

Famously, it was Wayne and his brother who sold 1978 World Champ Rabbit Bartholomew his first board, after the Deane boys cut down a 9 foot Ron malibu into a 7’6” and got it glassed at Merrin Surfboards. The board was too radical for the Deane boys, “a toothpick” they called it, but perfect for 13 year old Rabbit. It was the first board Wayne Deane sold, in what would be a long and influential career as a premier surfboard shaper.

He told The Weekend Edition the story in 2014:

“Our Dad had just bought the latest ‘thing’ in the building trade, a Power Planer. It was 1967 and Robye and myself are both carpenters so we thought we knew a few things about building stuff. Our mate George Hopkins surfed with us in those days but he had started fishing more and doing other things. His board was at our place and while Dad was at golf one day, a hasty decision was made. We thought it would be great to do a cut down (make a bigger board smaller). It was a 9′ 6″ “Ron” surfboard. Saw stools in the driveway, we stripped the glass off and away we went. I remember thinking holy shit this is harder than we thought. We ended up with a 7′ 6″ x 19 1/2″ – a toothpick compared to what we started with! We got on our pushies and went to ‘Merrins’ surfboard factory at 3 Sunshine Ave, south tweed to have it glassed. One of my all time favourite surfers Geoff “Bully” Arnold worked there glassing and making boards, so we asked him to do it. It cost us $20. Luckily for us, our parents were in the Lions Club and knew Bart and Betty Bartholomew, and through that connection we learned that Wayne was learning to surf and didn’t have a board. Mum contacted Betty. They were living at Rainbow Bay in a little house named ‘The Ranch’. Rab was 13, I’m 15, Robye’s 16 and we turn up with the board in tow. Blonde hair, buckteeth, and a smile from ear to ear, Rab was gone as well.”

Deane took up shaping seriously after the Merrin Surfboards factory burnt down in 1970 and he was left without a working shaper, but his shaping career jettisoned when he was approached by Terry Fitzgerald in 1980 and came under the stable of shapers and surfers of Hot Buttered Surfboards for the next 15 years.

Competitively, Deane’s best results came past his performance peak of late 60s Kirra, returning to longboarding, Deane placed fifth in the 1995 World Longboard Championships, at age 43, as well becoming the Australian longboard Champion in 2000.

In 2003 his importance to Australian surfing was recognised officially when he was inducted into the Australian surfing hall of fame.

The Deane legacy in Australian surfing runs deep. Wayne’s father John was a founder ASAQ, which would later become Surfing Queensland, while his son Noa is perhaps surfing’s brightest freesurfer today – Noa’s latest short film, Head Noise, is on tour right now and is considered the most anticipated free surfing video of 2018, 30 years after Wayne Deane appeared in surf video classic Sultans of Speed.

Surfing World’s thoughts are with Wayne’s wife Colleen, his two sons Noa and Jimi, as well as the greater Gold Coast surfing community.

We’ve lost a great one.

Mike Jennings