Surfers, Shapers And Shaggers: Are These Surfing’s Greatest Couples?

Did you know Kelly Slater used to date Pamela Anderson?

Gerry Lopez and Rory Russell

Photo: Jeff Divine/Encyclopedia of Surfing

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

Photo: ASP/Kirstin

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

Photos: Surf Careers/Sean Ivermee

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.

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