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Hughes, Russell


Handsome blond Australian regularfooter; winner of the 1967 Queensland state titles at age 20, and third-place finisher in the 1968 World Surfing Championships. The fluid-surfing Hughes (born 1946) was pretty much the only top Australian to disavow the newly introduced short surfboards in 1967. "I don't like small boards," he told Petersen's Surfing magazine. "They're ridiculous, I think; even nine-footers. The shortboard restricts you."

The 1968 world titles were held in Puerto Rico, and Hughes, having by then made the switch to the shortboard, was a second-string member of the Australian team. But as teammate and 1966 world champion Nat Young later recalled, Hughes probably deserved higher than his third-place finish. "His smooth, flowing style suited the crumbling [Puerto Rican] walls so well," Young said. "I thought he had won."

Hughes mostly avoided the spotlight in the years to come, preferring to seek out and ride good wave either alone or with a few friends. He's been cited as the first "name" surfer to ride Bali, in late 1969 or early 1970.

Hughes was featured in a small number of surf movies, including The Hot Generation (1967), Evolution (1969), and The Innermost Limits of Pure Fun (1970).  He died of bowel cancer in 2011, at age 64.