Sometimes two heads are better than one. Over the years surfing has provided some partnerships that have changed the sport forever.
From tow-in partners, to surfers and shapers, to lovers, here is some of surfing’s best ever golden couples...
Kelly Slater and Pamela Anderson
Kelly Slater was always going to be famous. After all, he had won his first title by the time he was 21 years old.
However there were two reasons why he was propelled him from pure surf stardom and into the mainstream stratosphere. First was appearing in the American TV show Baywatch. The second was going out with the show’s star Pamela Anderson.
"This was the 1993 version of Pammy, not the sex tape and pantomime actress we see now..."
Now this was the 1993 version of Pammy, not the subsequent sex tape and pantomime actress we see now. Back then she and her red one-piece swimmers were the hottest property in America.
The relationship with Kelly was an on-off affair and didn’t last long, but it was still the most mainstream fornication surfing had ever seen.
Kelly would go on later to be linked with the likes of Cameron Diaz, Gisele Bündchen and Bar Refaeli, but it was Pammy with whom he created surfing’s biggest, weirdest and hottest golden couple.
Ken Bradshaw and Layne Beachley
The seven-time world champion Layne Beachley is now the better half of INXS star Kirk Pengilly. However, for a few years in the late ‘90s her relationship with Texan born Hawaiian big wave rider Ken Bradshaw made them surfing’s best ever power couple.
Under Bradshaw’s tutelage and riding his handcrafted surfboards, Beachley not only secured a few world titles, but also set new standards for women's big wave surfing.
"They were the ultimate male-female double act for pure surfing performance"
The two were known to paddle out on the biggest days at Sunset and towed into the outer reef big wave spots of Hawaii. Beachley was, after all, the first woman to do so. A 1997 article in Outside Magazine on Beachley entitled 'I'm Going Big. Anyone Care to Follow?' summed up her confidence and forthright manner.
By 2000 the pair had split amicably. However, for a few years they were the ultimate male-female double act for pure surfing performance, the likes of which the surfing world had never seen.
Matt Wilkinson and Nick Pollet
Matt Wilkinson and Nick Pollet make up another surfer/filmmaker combination, although a very different beast from the McCoy and Occy model.
Wilkinson is one of surfing’s biggest characters. With his friend Nick, he has found someone who can tap into his weirdness.
"Nick went as Wilko's hot date, dressed as a Victorian lady with a pink dick-shaped phone"
“Nick travels with me full time. He was originally French but has lived in Oz since he was 10," Wilko told Mpora. “He pretty much has the same thoughts as me, which is just plain weird. To be looking for the same things as me, you have to be a little whack."
Evidence of this came at the 2013 Annual ASP Banquet. Nick went to the ASP Banquet as Wilko’s hot date, dressed as a Victorian lady and proceeded to make some calls on a pink dick-shaped phone.
For a while, their blog Out2Brunch.com was the weirdest, and best, blog in surfing. The two however have been rumoured to be making a film together, the results of which is bound to be both supremely exciting and profoundly strange.
Tom Carroll and Ross Clarke-Jones
- Dean Dampney
- Photo: Red Bull
Like most famous duos, the key to Ross Clarke-Jones and Tom Carroll’s enduring appeal is their very different personalities.
Ross (or RCJ) is one of the original wild childs of surfing. After failing to adapt to the hardcore competitive scene in the ‘80s, he focused solely on his two loves: big waves and good times.
"THEIR FRIENDSHIP IS AS WATCHABLE AS THE MASSIVE WAVES THEY RIDE"
He was at the forefront of the tow movement in Hawaii and won the prestigious Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay, all the time while living a life at 200 miles per hour.
Tom Carroll was a two-time world champion who is credited with bringing a professionalism and real fitness training to surfing. Both sponsored by Quiksilver, the quieter and more reserved Carroll teamed up with Ross post-competitive career as tow partners and for a series on Australian TV called Storm Surfers.
In the show, surfing’s hardest charging odd couple track down huge swells. It's their enduring friendship that is as watchable as the massive waves they ride.
Gerry Lopez and Rory Russell
Rory Russell, the man known as Dog, is one of the surfing’s great characters. He is described in the Encyclopedia of Surfing as a “happy, hedonistic, tuberiding specialist."
Russell is a true raconteur who has led an incredible life within surfing, a two times Pipe Masters Champion (and three times runner up). With his mentor Gerry Lopez, the pair formed one of the classic double acts in surfing.
"Their 45 year old friendship continues to this day"
Under the Lightening Bolt logo, Russell and Lopez dominated Pipe in the ‘70s. They travelled the world, discovering and surfing waves (along with wine and women) in Bali, Java, Europe and Japan.
Gerry was the suave, gentlemanly super stylish Pipe legend, while Rory was the constantly talking and laughing, charismatic hustler.
Their act, and their wide travels, made Lightening Bolt one of the most recognised symbols in surfing, while their 45 year old friendship continues to this day.
The Hobgood Twins
The identical twins C.J. and Damien Hobgood have been competing against each other since the age of 7, alternating first and second places until they hit the professional ranks in their late teens.
C.J. was first onto the Championship Tour, was awarded Rookie of the Year in 1999 and became World Champion in 2001. For 15 years the Hobgoods have been at the forefront of big wave evolution and small wave progression.
"Being identical twins, surfing and competing together our whole lives, it’s been like staring at a mirror"They have handled themselves with true modesty and a rare articulateness. To have one surfer with such a well-rounded surfing act is incredible - to have two from the same egg is ridiculous.
Of course it hasn’t always been easy trying to forge their own identity in a marketplace that craves differentiation.
“Being identical twins, surfing and competing together our whole lives, it’s been like staring at a mirror. I think that identity is something that everyone struggles with at some point in their lives," CJ told Surfer recently. “Being a twin makes that even more difficult, but without that struggle I don’t think we would have accomplished what we have."
Alana Blanchard and Jack Freestone
While Layne Beachley and Ken Bradshaw set a surfing couple template, it is surfing’s current dream duo Alana Blanchard and Jack Freestone that are now setting the world, and Instagram, alight.
"Blanchard's million odd fans were upset when she started dating Australian surfer Jack Freestone..."
Blanchard, while being located in the top 15 women surfers for the last few years (although it must be said she didn’t win a single heat in 2014), is perhaps more known for her shapely derriere and huge social media following.
Her million odd fans were at first upset when she started dating Australian surfer Jack Freestone.
Freestone also welds model good looks onto one of the most dynamic acts in surfing today. He is currently only one place off qualifying for next year’s elite surfing tour. Together they are 2014’s IT couple, travelling the world, posting photos for their fans and generally being good looking and fabulous.
Jack McCoy and Occy
Another fairly incongruous coupling, but it's one that changed the way we see surfing forever.
Jack McCoy was the tall, gregarious Californian filmmaker who made a name for himself in the late 70s and 80s with a string of great surf movies including Tubular Swell, Storm Riders and Kong’s Island.
"Jack put Occy's infectious, childlike wonder at the centre of great surf flicks"
However, it was his Billabong movies starring Mark Occhilupo (or Occy) from 1990 onwards that really changed the game. Jack's mesmerising water footage put Occy’s sublime talent and his infectious, childlike wonder, front and centre of a series of great surf flicks.
The result was a clutch of some of every surfer’s most favourite films, plus it cemented Occy’s unique place in the surfing world.
Mick Fanning and Darren Handley
Since Mick Fanning was an 11-year-old kid, Darren Handley has been shaping his boards.
“I get around 100 a year," Mick Fanning told Mpora.“So he must have easily have made me more than a 1000 boards."
"Darren must have made me more than 1000 boards"
“Mick is both a son, and best mate to me," said Handley. “We have worked together for so long and been through so much. It’s a pleasure shaping for him. His feedback and performance have been critical for my shaping."
Darren has shaped boards for some of the best surfers in the world, including Luke Egan, Joel Parkinson, Steph Gilmore, Matt Wilkinson and Jack Freestone. However it is his two decade long relationship with Fanning that has produced the best results for both, including three world titles and over a million pounds in prize money.