Engel, Joe


Stocky regularfoot surfer from Sydney, Australia; Pro Junior winner in 1978 and 1979. Engel was born (1960) in Sydney, began surfing in the early '70s, and was best friends with future pro tour star Cheyne Horan, but didn't flourish until moving to Queensland's Gold Coast in 1975. He was runner-up to future two-time world champion Tom Carroll in the juniors division of the 1978 Australian National Titles. As Deep magazine later noted, Engel was a "frightening ball of energy, with a short thick neck, and broad shoulders that seemed to fall straight down to his waist."

Engel was featured the 1982 surf movie Storm Riders, riding the exotic and then-unknown waves of Nias in Indonesia. At age 22, he won the 1983 Rip Curl Bells Beach pro, a world tour contest, but never really regained the competitive form he'd shown as a teenager, and in 1985 he quit the circuit.

A Deep magazine feature in 2000 described Engel's subsequent troubles with drugs and mental illness; in 2006, at age 46, he died of a massive heart attack.