Lynch, Barton


Bright, expansive, rubber-faced Australian pro surfer from Sydney's Whale Beach, 1988 world pro tour champion. Lynch was born (1963) in Sydney, the son of a policeman, and began surfing at age eight, three years before his father died in a motorcycle accident.

In 1981, Lynch finished runner-up in the juniors division of the Australian National Titles; two years later, just after turning professional, he won the highly competitive Pro Junior event. On the world pro tour, his year-end ranking shot up from 13th in 1983 to eighth in 1984 to runner-up in 1985; the following year he dropped to 12th, then charged back in 1987 to finish third. The slightly built Lynch (5'9", 147 pounds) wasn't possessed of natural talent on the order of fellow world champions Tom Curren or Tom Carroll, but he rode with great polish, flow, and intelligence, and had a wickedly effective set of backside turns in and around the curl.

Lynch's last-minute dash to the 1988 world title came on the final day of the final event of the season—the Billabong Pro, held in perfect eight to 12-foot tubes at Pipeline—and is counted as one of the pro tour's most thrilling episodes. Lynch was third in the ratings as the day began, behind fellow Australians Damien Hardman and Tom Carroll, both of whom were eliminated in dramatic fashion before midday. Lynch then defeated three-time world champion Tom Curren in the quarterfinals to earn a semifinal match against Glen Winton; a win would give him the championship, a loss meant that Hardman, despite his earlier loss, would still win. Winton built a solid lead through the first half of the match, but Lynch came back with a brilliant series of tuberides for the victory. He then won the final against Aussie teenager Luke Egan for good measure.

Over the course of a 15-year pro career, Lynch placed in the top four eight times. He won 17 world tour events, including the Op Pro in 1987 and 1991, and the 1991 Rip Curl Pro. He competed in the 1990 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau big-wave contest at Waimea Bay; in 1993 he won the World Qualifying Series tour.

Lynch earned a reputation as one of the sport's wittiest and most articulate figures, and for his willingness to express views outside what he correctly viewed as a narrow surf world orthodoxy. Surfing, he said in a 1989 interview, was nothing more than "another outlet for making yourself feel good," and shouldn't serve as "the be-all and end-all of your life." Surfers, he continued, were on the whole the most "self-righteous, cocky and judgmental group of people you'll find anywhere in the world."

Lynch appeared in more than three dozen surf movies, videos, and documentaries, including Amazing Surf Stories (1984), Gripping Stuff (1987), Surfers: The Movie (1990), and Legends: An Australian Surfing Perspective (1994). In 1989 and 1990 he wrote a "Learn to Surf" column for Surfing magazine.

In 1998 Lynch was inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame; two years later he was inducted to the Sport Australian Hall of Fame. Since leaving the world tour, he's worked as a surfing coach, a consultant, a cable TV producor, and a WCT event commentator.

BL's Blast Off, a week-long competition for surfers 14 and under, was founded by Lynch in 2006.