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Grand Prix Dream

Hemmings (right) and Bruce Jenner. Photo: Leonard Brady
1976 world champion Peter Townend. Photo: Jeff Divine
1977 Smirnoff Pro-Am. Photo: Lance Trout
Ian Cairns. Photo: Jeff Divine
IPS organizer and cofounder Randy Rarick

Beginning in 1973, a rotating cast of about 20 surfers—mostly Aussies and Hawaiians, and a smattering of riders from California, South Africa, and Brazil—traveled on what Queensland regularfooter Peter Townend would later call the “gypsy tour,” flying hither and yon around the world to compete in a series of unrelated pro contests.

Hawaii had four prize-money contests in 1973, and it led the early professional movement. (Eventually, the three biggest North Shore contests would be packaged tog...

Shaun Tomson didn’t know a 1976 world title was in the offing until he flew to Hawaii for the last two events of the year. Rory Russell found out when one of the Aussies ran up to him and said, “There’s a new tour, mate, and you’ve already got thousands of points!”