Jennings, James "Chappy"


Australian goofyfooter from Queensland's Gold Coast; often remembered as the elfin sidekick to world tour stars Wayne Bartholomew and Gary Elkerton, but a hard-charging surfer in his own right. Jennings was born (1965) in New Guinea, grew up in Victoria and South Australia, and began surfing at age 10. Three years later he ran away from home to live in the warm, wave-rich Gold Coast, where he was mentored by 1978 world champion Wayne Bartholomew; in 1980 he finished fourth in the juniors division of the Australian National Titles; in '80 and '81 he was runner-up in the Pro Junior.

The spindly-built Jennings (5'5", 115 pounds; nickednamed "the Little General") placed fourth on the 1985 Australian Professional Surfing Association tour, but had little success on the world tour. He was better known as a fearless tuberider, utilizing a wide, low, crablike stance, and a photo of him racing through an cathedral-sized tube at Pipeline ran as a two-page spread in A Day in the Life of Hawaii, a 1984 coffee-table photo book.

Jennings appeared in a small number of surf movies and videos, including Wizards of the Water (1982) and The Performers (1984). Along with Bartholomew and fellow Queenslander Gary Elkerton, Jennings co-starred in Kong's Island, a popular 1983 Jack McCoy-made short film.