From Nov. 30 to Dec. 2, Malaysia was host to the Terengganu RIP CURL Pro 2012, the first ever 6-star Asian Surfing Championship to take place there. With surfers from all over Southeast Asia competing, some crushed waves with the standard “regular foot” (left foot forward) stance, while others took the “goofy foot” (right foot forward) approach.
The offbeat, goofy foot style gives surfers an intriguing edge – which many have used throughout the years to snag some pretty impressive wins.
Here are five goofy foot surfing champions.
Born in 1952, Santa Monica native Rolf Aurness is a virtuoso who dominated the Western Surfing Association juniors by the age of 16 and won the 1970 World Surfing Championship in Johanna, Australia. He is the son of the television actor James Arness, whose fame helped his own in the wake of his championship win. Aurness’ surfing success is all the more remarkable in light of a skull fracture he sustained after falling from a tree when he was 9. His father, also a keen surfer since moving to the coast in 1946, was determined that his son would beat the disaster – which he did. Aurness still surfs today and is currently designing models of a new hydroplane surfboard, which he plans to market.
There must be something in the water in Australia because many of the world’s greatest goofy foots are Aussies. Meet Sydney native, Tom Carroll. Carroll, born in 1961, won the Australian Junior Title in 1978, the Pro Juniors in 1977 and 1980, the 1983 and 1984 ASP World Tour and the 1987 Pipe Masters. “During Carroll’s 14-year tenure on the world tour, he racked up 26 victories (second only to Curren), finished in the top five a record nine times and never wavered as the most powerful surfer on earth,” says his Surfline profile. Carroll has also battled some serious injuries, including a stomach rupture and multiple ankle ligament tears, and he almost drowned last year at an obscure Western Australia reef called Turtle Dove Shoal. Still, the go-getter continues to conquer swells. You can watch him perform in the jaw-dropping documentary, Storm Surfers 3D.
Another Sydney native, Damien Hardman, is one of the most successful goofy foots in this list. Hardman won the world surfing title not once but twice — in ’87 and ’91 — proving that there is nothing awkward about the goofy foot stance. The way he twinned acute powers of concentration with a clinical approach to heats won him the nickname “Iceman.” In 1988, Hardman’s stellar skill enabled him to win seven events in a season — a record that would remain until it was matched by Santa Barbara surfing legend Tom Curren and then Kelly Slater. He was inducted into the Australian Hall of Fame in 1999 and though he “retired” from the sport in 2001, he competed with some other older surfing greats this year to win the Four Seasons Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy. “For our ages we are all surfing on top of our game,” he told Surfer Today.
Even by pro surfing standards, Mark Occhilupo, nicknamed Occy, is heavily into surfing. If the waves are working their magic, then Occhilupo is out there at least three times a day. Occhilupo, born in 1966, launched his professional career during the World Championship Tour when he was 17 and capped it by winning the 1999 World Surfing Champion title at age 33 (an advanced age in surfing circles). In 2004, he was inducted into the Surfing Hall of Fame. Occy’s Italian last name means “eyes of the wolf” and his equally epic nickname is “Raging Bull.” But the wild man has a strong social conscience. Truly passionate about cleaning up the ocean, he sticks floating trash in his wetsuit and throws it away when he is back on land.
This goofy footer’s name makes him sound more like a writer than a surfer, but Florida native C.J. Hobgood is intensely serious about surfing. Aspworldtour.com praises Hobgood as “one of the best right-foot-forward surfers of all time.” The 2001 champion’s grace in the grip of feisty barrels won him a reputation as one of the world’s top surfers in his own right. Born in 1979, Hobgood enrolled in his first surfing contest ten years later, reaching the Open Boys final. The following year, he came second in a national contest, then won several other championships and in 1998 was picked as the model for the new National Scholastic Surfing Association logo. In 1999, he was named the Association Surfer Professionals Rookie of the Year. Oh, and in October 2012, he won the Slater Brothers Invitational at Cocoa Beach, Florida. Surfing talent must run in Hobgood’s family because his twin brother Damien is also a successful surfer.