Matt Wilkinson and friend. Photo: Out2Brunch.com

Whenever a sport's history is recounted it's inevitably the most successful players who get the most attention. Think Pele in football, Jack Niklaus in golf or Roger Federer in the world of tennis.

But surfing (like other action sports) is different. Alongside the likes of 11 times world champ Kelly Slater or mid-80s machine Tom Curren, there is a special place reserved in the history books for surfers who are less successful - at least in the conventional sense.

These are the dudes who, although they were talented surfers, spent a large proportion of their time pursuing another great passion - partying. And who are all the more legendary for it.

1) Clark Gable's Protegée

Bunker Spreckels partying like it's 1969.

Born in 1949, Adolph Bunker Spreckels III - great grandson of a Germany-born sugar baron, railway tycoon and publisher, Claus Spreckels - grew up in the lap of luxury.

When he was five, the world's most famous man became his stepfather. Clark Gable schooled him in the art of hunting and women and revealed the illusory insanity of the image factory to his young charge.

However at 18, Bunker (as he was known) found surfing and would turn his back on the family fortune and return to Hawaii.

"He inherited a cool 50 million dollars and went on a ten year spree of women, drugs and surfing."

It wasn’t till he was 21 when he inherited a cool 50 million dollars that he went on a ten year spree of women, drugs and surfing, living a life of spectacular excess that few have ever matched.

The fact that the book and film of life was called Surfing's Divine Prince of Decadence pretty much says it all.

2) The Merewether Madman

Matt Hoy and err... friends. Photo: Transworld Surf.

Hailing from Merewether, New South Wales, Matt Hoy spent more than 10 years on tour racking up career wins, including a famous victory at Bells Beach, as well as enormous bar bills in every town.

He never shied away from his love of beer and late nights and his rock’n’roll lifestyle was a constant throughout his competitive career.

He didn’t stop much afterwards either, fronting webcasts and his own TV show, often with a beer in hand and always with a smile. The tattoos and the forehand hacks may have been his trademark, but his love a good time remains legendary.

3) Rod "[Off His] Box" Kerr

A recent Bondi Rescue shot of Rodd Kerr. Apparently he's  actually pretty sensible these days...

Rod “Box" Kerr was a Bronte goofy-footer who rose to the top of the surfing ratings, managing a hugely respectable fourth by the end of year in 1992.

"He vomited on the beach twice after a wave, and yet still went on to beat his (sober) opponent."

However Kerr never ever let his surfing get in the way of a good time, and with his sparring partners like Matt Hoy, Rob Page and Ross Clarke-Jones, was often the first one at the bar... and the last one to leave.

In one infamous event in Spain surfing in a heat he vomited on the beach twice after a wave, and yet still went on to beat his (sober) opponent.

Post career Box tamed his wild ways and went on to become the head lifesaver at Bondi Beach, and now stars in the famous TV show Bondi Rescue.

4) The Big Wave Badman

Rob Clarke-Jones aka Dark Bones. Photo: Quiksilver

rob clarke-jones

Aussie Ross Clarke Jones has famously led a life at a furious pace. If that meant partying in Las Vegas for days, and the jumping on a plane to surf in the 20 foot wave in the Eddie Aikau contest, then so be it.

His love of adrenalin; fast cars, hot women and big waves was legendary and fuelled by a manic energy and willingness to never miss out on any action anywhere he was one of the biggest party animals on tour.

This never stopped him from being one of the world’s most respected big wave watermen and one of the biggest characters in surfing.

5) The Rampant Rabbit

Wayne 'Rabbit' Bartholemew, complete with Smirnoff bib.

wayne bartholemew 2

The 1978 world champion Wayne “Rabbit" Bartholomew, cultivated a rockstar like image. At one stage he was famously sponsored by Smirnoff Vodka, and got around in a white three piece suit.

"At one stage he was famously sponsored by Smirnoff Vodka"

Fiercely competitive, be it surfing Pipeline, playing tennis or in a drinking game, Rabbit lived a life to its fullest, partying hard in hometown on the Gold Coast and around the world, whilst surfing his brain out in a professional career that lasted almost 20 years.

0114rabbit

He would go on to be the president of the ASP, but the inner fire always burns and if you get caught up in a round of drinks, or party with Rabbit, you better be ready for a late night and a good time...

6) The Wild One

Matty Wilkinson's got a lot to smile about. Photo Maty Wilkinson Tumblr

matty wilkinson

Flying the rager flag in the new era, Matty Wilkinson is that rare breed of elite professional surfer, one that exists soley to have a good time.

His dance skills are as good as his backhand blast, and whether it be cross dressing at ASP Award Nights or letting his hair down at French discos, there are very few surfers on tour that seem to be having as much fun as Wilko right now.

Matty Wilkinson enjoying himself on a night out. Photo: Matt Wilkinson Instagram

Matty Wilkinson

The results may not always go his way (he went out in the 2nd round in Fiji, although he seems to be doing better at the J-Bay Open) but at least he knows what's really important right?

7) Christian Fletcher

Christian Fletcher in an interview for 'Juice' magazine. At the time his sponsors apparently included a porn shop.

In the 1989 Body Glove Surf Bout, Christian Fletcher hit the skate ramp and psyched between heats by playing the video game "Skate or Die."

In his backyard, the 18-year-old anarchist torched the competition. And by beating what he called a bunch of "weak" surfers, guys "butt-wiggling and riding all the way to the beach," he became the ultimate Anti-hero.

"He played in several death metal bands, including Bloodshot, Mutilage, and Axefukk."

He played bass in several death metal bands, including such classics as Bloodshot, Mutilage, and Axefukk and partied as hard as anyone in the surfing world, to the point where drink and drugs almost destroyed him completely.

He survived though and these days makes the rounds as the elder statesman of air, living in southern California and pursuing speed in all forms - from surfing to skateboarding to wakeboarding to snowboarding to street luge.

8) Matt Archbold

Anyone who drinks a bottle of whisky a day, and still manages to get the shack of the season at Backdoor Pipe and Backdoor has a serious claim to be a party animal.

Matt Archbold was that man, combining insane tuberiding ability, progressive aerials, loads of tatts and the ability to go on benders that would last for days, if not weeks.

"By the time he was 21, he'd been arrested for driving under the influence three times."

By the time he was 21, he'd been arrested for driving under the influence three times and as one surf mag put it "any lingering hope of him bridging the gap between Tom Curren and the inevitable rise of Kelly Slater were toast, as he was headed for a prison."

Not that it stopped him. The tattoo on his neck, “Built For Speed" said it all - Archbold was always on the the brink of destruction, be it in surfing or living.

He is however, a born survivor, and come through addiction and out the other side. Most impressively of all, he's surfed throughout all of it, and over the course of his career has left an indelible mark on the sport, both in and out of the water.

9) Paul Fisher

The ex-Australian WQS surfer (and now DJ) started out making a living out of his talent in the water, but more recently has found a career by simply having a good time with his videos and blog on Fishtales.tv.

His DJ act Cut Snake (with former pro Leigh Sedley) has also been increasingly successful and he can be found spinning his house music mashes until all hours of the morning, chatting up model chicks and generally causing everyone around him to have a damn good time.

It’s unusual to be paid to party, but it seems that “The Fish" has somehow found a way.

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