Speed Freaks

Terry Fitzgerald. Photo: Alby Falzon
Terry Fitzgerald. Photo: Jeff Divine
Michael Peterson, 1977. Photo: Dan Merkel
Michael Peterson, 1977. Photo: Peter Crawford

“Performance surfing” is a loosely defined term, but it generally means a fast, active, dynamic style of riding in waves smaller than eight or ten feet. By the early '70s the Aussies were taking ownership of the category. Under-18 junior division champs like Mark Richards, Wayne Bartholomew, and Peter Townend—years before their respective primes—were out-surfing all but the best from California and Hawaii. Aussie seniors (18 and above) were even better. Perth’s Ian Cairns already had a couple...

Michael Peterson's short, brilliant, toxic career made him a rebel surfing legend second only to Miki Dora. Terry Fitzgerald, meanwhile, did for performance surfing what Led Zeppelin did for the blues—made it bigger, louder, heavier.